If you’ve been making use of Mixamo or other motion capture to create your character animations in Blender, you probably plan to or have already explored the possibilities of non-linear editing to combine your clips to form a sequence for your scene.
Using motion capture presents a few limitations, however, and one deal-breaking caveat (especially when working with premade animation) is that there will probably be certain parts of the animation that you’d like to adjust. Simpler modifications are relatively easy to manage, but some situations will call for hand animating certain elements on top of a mocap clip.
- Mixamo is a website that lets you mix characters and animation. In this video we look at how you can download the animated character and import it into Blender.
- Mixamo FBX and animation to blender. Mixamo import edit clothing textures. Facial movements distort the face of the character when auto-rigged in mixamo.
Continue browsing in r/blender r/blender /r/blender is a subreddit devoted to Blender, the amazing open-source software program for 3D modeling, animation, rendering and more! I am working on a 3D game and found just the character I needed on Mixamo. The only change I want is to make the chracter a little fat. /r/blender is a subreddit. In this quick tutorial, Marco explains how to combine animations to create a seamless transition between movements using Blender's 2.9 NLA system, particular.
The first half of this article will be an Auto Rig Pro tutorial, where we’ll go over how the nifty addon can not only quickly create an elaborate rig for your mesh, but also let you use this rig with your motion capture data. After we’ll be going over a few NLA Editor techniques that can be used with or without Auto Rig Pro.
You can get the addon from Blender Market, and I should point out that we’ll be working with the paid version. It’s 40 dollars well spent in my opinion, and can really save some headache if you’re looking to make animated shorts. If you don’t have the addon yet, go ahead and make the purchase and download the files.
If purchasing the addon is out of the question for you at the moment, you can check out my video on using the NLA editor with Mixamo for a way to edit motion data with free tools.
So here in Blender, we’ll head over to preferences and install the addon. We’ll only need to select the main auto rig pro zip for this tutorial.
We can find the addon’s controls in our properties tab. We’ll start by selecting our meshes to be rigged, heading over to the auto rig pro smart tab, and hitting get selected objects.
We’ll now be prompted to position a marker for each of the guide areas for the rig.
With the markers in place, let’s hit go, and refine the meta rig just a bit.
Now let’s hit a match to rig to get our controls,
and as you can see we now have an armature that’s much more wieldy than what we get from Mixamo or a bvh file.
Let’s load in an fbx of this character from Mixamo,
and assign the Mixamo armature as our source armature, and freeze armature.
If an fbx from Mixamo comes in too small, simply clear the scale (ALT +S), and our meshes will be aligned in their rest poses. You can use the autoscale feature to align the scale of both your armatures for other cases.
Let’s now assign our generated rig as the target armature, and hit the Build bones list.
Once that’s done we can import the Mixamo Fbx IK preset. This will match the naming conventions of our rig to the mixamo armature.
Let’s hit retarget, make sure the frame range specified is correct, and hit ok.
And here’s what we get!
In some cases, minor adjustments can be made by selecting a controller and moving the graph on the channels that need editing,
and we can remove keyframes for any controller we want to animate over.
Editing with NLA
Alternatively, we can use the NLA editor to override animation for some of the controls.
In this instance, I retargeted another animation to the rig, and by pushing down the current animation into action, I move certain joints around and just insert a keyframe after I make the change.
The retargeted animation shows as a new set of keys in the NLA editor. In this example, I will parent the lute and a jug on the character’s hands, and rotating the fingers to grasp these items.
This icon will push the animation down into an action strip on an NLA Track.
The strip in “NLATrack” is the action strip from the retargeted animation.
The orange strip above our action strip represents new keyframes I made as I was adjusting the character’s hand
(In case you were wondering, I just parented the objects to one of the finger bones so that they would follow the hands as they move).
A rendered frame of the resulting animation:
Another cool use case is adding a separate animation over an existing one using the NLA editor, and this can be done without auto rig pro as well
So in this scenario, I want to have this guy play his lute while doing a spin. We’ll use the lute-playing animation we already developed earlier.
To achieve this I’ll retarget a dancing animation from Mixamo, this time adjusting the scale manually since I just used the Mixamo dummy mesh for this one.
Once the animation is retargeted it will override the existing animation. In the NLA editor I’ll push down the new keys into an action strip, and tab into edit mode for the strip.
From here I’ll select all the controls for the upper body of my character and clear out the keyframes.
Now Only the spinning animation on the legs and feet is overriding the lute-playing animation below it.
And that concludes this tut! Hope this was useful and as always, happy rendering!
If you're interested in learning more about motion capture, I highly recommend our next tutorial on using Deepmotion to make mocap. I also invite you to follow our YouTube channel GarageFarm.NET Academy, where we publish new tutorials every week!
The scope of work involved in producing a 3d animation is vast, and that studios producing any level of animated shorts for Film and Games consist of numerous specialists working on Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Lighting, and Animation is enough to make a lone creator rock back and forth in fetal position while showering, contemplating on how the shampoo foam slowly making its way down the drain is an apt metaphor for his dreams of ever creating a short of his own.
But lo, the golden dawn of technological advancements hath come, and like Prometheus’ blazing fire numerous software and browser applications now reignite lost hopes of single-handedly creating animated 3d content to one’s heart’s….satisfaction. One such marvel is Adobe’s Mixamo, in which you can upload a mesh to be automatically rigged and animated from a repository of motion capture animations, all for free and from a browser. Offloading character animation alone could save months of work for almost any animated filmmaker!
I tried it, and after the first hour of raw excitement, I came to realize that a bunch of ten-second clips still won’t be enough to create a full short, let alone a few scenes. A character standing idly and breaking into a run would take two separate clips from Mixamo, and unfortunately, joining them together isn’t enough to sell the movement. I knew using premade mocap would never replicate the beautiful subtleties of professionally hand-animated work, but the jerking effect of one clip after another just wouldn’t do.
Thankfully, Blender’s Non-Linear Animation editing system not only allows us to blend clips but to also edit them per transform channel of each bone, making it an excellent way to mix animations and even add a personal flair to them if we were so inclined.
We’ll go through several ways we can use the NLA editor as shown in our Blender 2.9 tutorial on YouTube to help us bash animations from Adobe Mixamo and make some edits in between.
Collating Animations From Mixamo
Downloading a clip from Mixamo is pretty straightforward, and once you’ve got your exported format of choice in your local drives, simply perform an import operation from within Blender.
In this case, I downloaded and import FBX files. This is Mixamo’s default format. The asset comes in scaled-down ten times. Clearing the scale using Alt + S. After doing this you should see your asset in the viewport. Rinse and repeat the process for all of the clips you plan to use.
Using the NLA Editor
You can access the NLA editor by expanding the View Icon as shown above. Select Non-Linear Animation and you should see this interface:
The orange bar represents the keyframes of the Armature you’ve imported, which, incidentally is named “Armature”. Pushing the keyframes down by clicking on the icon indicated by the mouse cursor transforms these keyframes into “Actions”.
By repeating these actions for every armature imported we can build a pool of actions that we can call later on.
Once all our mixamo downloads have been imported into Blender and saved as actions, we can delete all the armatures except one.
As long as we create actions from assets downloaded from the same mesh we brought into Mixamo, we can add them to one of the fbx armatures we imported so that one armature contains animation data from all the others.
With all our actions saved, we can add tracks to our working armature to allow us to position clips better.
In the image above we have two actions residing in 2 separate tracks that overlap as they transition into each other. We’ll see why later.
Here is a common problem seen in importing mocap data in general:
Notice how as we enter the second clip, our character arrives at the starting location as indicated by Blender’s 3d cursor instead of starting there.
This is where the power of the NLA editor comes into play.
We can hit TAB on an action strip to expose its keyframes, essentially entering “edit mode” for that action strip.
We can switch to the graph editor the same way we got to the NLA editor.
And by entering pose mode on our armature we can select the bone in our rig that we would like to make adjustments to.
In this case, we select the Hip Bone, which is also the root of our armature. The root serves as the Parent to all of the bones. Any transformation that occurs in this bone affects all the others. We can assume, therefore, that this bone is where the movement of our character from point A to B exists.
At this point, we are going through all the keyframes for every transform channel on JUST the armature’s hipbone.
The vertical numbers on the graph editor correspond to the value assigned to the key on a particular frame in time (horizontal numbers are the frame numbers, as in the main timeline).
Because the z location channel’s graph is a dramatic spike in value over time, we can deduce that this channel’s keyframes represent the character’s movement forward. (normally in Blender this would be the Y-axis transforms, but the FBX format recognizes Z as Y and vice versa).
Mixamo Blender Tutorial Youtube
Of course, in many cases, things won’t be so easy, so some trial and error is to be expected. Tedious, I know, but it still beats hand animating and refining a single movement over days and days.
Now that we’ve found our keyframes to edit, we can isolate the Z location channel by using shift + h, and by selecting all keys with “a” we can now move them up until our character starts the movement from the 3d cursor.
So we now have our character breaking into a run at the proper position from the previous clip.
However, at the frames where the clips transition, we still get a very awkward jump from one stance to another- this gives the feeling of watching someone controlling a character from a low budget video game
To remedy this, we can tab out of the action strip edit mode in the NLA editor, and in the Strip properties panel, we can increase the blend in value from the second clip to something above the default 0.
Doing this will cause the keyframes from the previous clip to interpolate to the next, and what was initially a cut from standing to running now becomes a new animation in itself, with the stationary leg moving to take the first step in the run animation.
By entering Pose Mode on the armature and selecting both action clips, we can search for the Bake Action operation to combine our clips into one set of keyframes from which we can more easily edit to personalize poses and movements.
This can be done from the graph editor as shown earlier, or even in the dope sheet editor.
And this is how we can turn disparate movements collected from Mixamo into a fluid and new movement for our scenes!
Blender Mixamo Plugin
I hope this overview was enough to pique your interest, and if you’d like to see more Blender animation tutorials, have a look at GarageFarm Academy Youtube Channel.
Mixamo Blender Fbx