Motion Builder tutorial

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oDDity's motion builder tutorial for all us animators. Requires this codec:

Reminder - face the character along the X axis before animating (Motion Builder defaults to Z). Doom 3 uses the X axis as the forward axis. Don't rely on the export settings in the def file to fix this, because the vision cone will still be wrong.

One thing not explained in the video - layers are actually for seperating animation timelines for the entire body, not seperating body parts.

Body parts already have their own channels within a layer - just select the body part and the keyframes shown in the timeline will only be the keyframes for that body part (provided you are in "body part mode", as shown in the vid).

Layers can be used to easily layer movements over one another and keep them seperate and editable. This has two major uses;

Layering movements

Just say you wanted to animate someone shaking their fist. You have a bunch of keyframes in quick sucession that move the fist back and forth rapidly. You created this quickly by setting one key frame with the fist backwards, and another with it forwards, and then copying and pasting that pair of keyframes over and over for however long you want him to shake his fist. Now you have a lot of keyframes.

What if you wanted the fist to move upward slowly over time WHILE shaking? Without layers, you'd have to edit each key frame and move the hand upwards by a small amount, like old fashioned stop-motion animation, and you'd be stuffed trying to get fluid movement, and it would take forever.

Well with layers, you just make a new layer, and create the upward movement of the fist using just 2 new keyframes. Now the upward movement and the shaking are blended together. Easy!

Pose tweaking

Say you have a walking animation. You decide that he's not leaning forward enough for the entire animation. In Maya, with only a single timeline, you'd have to go through every keyframe for his back and rotate it forward.

But in motion builder, you just make an empty layer, and set one keyframe a the start for the back, rotate it in the positoin you want it, et voila, the entire walk animation has him walking the way you want him to. I have a layer specifically for this, that I call "pose tweaks".