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Character animation in seconds

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Mixamo is a 3D character animation service that makes the end-to-end character animation experience faster and easier. Here is an article on how to use it with from 3dsMax to ShiVa.





Summary

Prepare the model
Export as FBX and DAE
Setup the model in Mixamo
Create animation in Mixamo
Export the animation
Setup the model in ShiVa
Import and play animation

Model credits goes to AXYZ DESIGN.

Prepare the model

Your object must follow the rules from this article : Setup a model for Collada Export.

It needs also one more step to have something ready:

Rename the biped using the Mixamo nomenclature, this step is optional but ensure a smoother transition from Max to Mixamo.

Open the ShiVaTools for 3Dsmax ( v1.5.1 required), open the Character tools tab and in the normalize bones name area, select Mixamo, click Normalize and select the biped root, usually Bip01

Rename using mixamo nomenclature

Export as FBX and DAE

We are now going to export the desired part of our model, press Ctrl+A to select all visible elements, Click File > Export > Export Selected

Select first Autodesk FBX in the “Save as type” drop-down menu
Be sure to check Animation, Skins and set the axis conversion to Y-up

Once the file is written somewhere on your hard drive ( we will name it women-for-mixamo.fbx ), export once again your model but this time using the Autodesk Collada format and set the axis conversion to Z-up we will name it women-bindpose-for-shiva.dae

We have now two files, the FBX for Mixamo, the DAE for ShiVa Editor.

Setup the model in Mixamo

Open your favorite browser and navigate to http://www.mixamo.com, register if needed and Click on My stuff.
In the character tab, click Upload skeleton and select the fbx file exported previously.

my stuff

It is now time to bind our joints to Maximo joints, very simple, select a main joint ( the ones with a double circle ) on the left and select the matching one on the right.
Thank to the name normalization done in the first step, the name are the same from the two parts.

Do that for, at least, all the main joints. Tips : bind the last spine joint to the neck.
Once done, a popup will inform you that the process is complete

Click Done.

Create animation in Mixamo

Your skeleton setup is now done, you are now able to add animation on your character.
Select Motion on the Mixamo website and Click customize for the Free jazz dancing animation

You can see the animation running in the viewport, to tell the system to configure the animation for our character, select Uploaded and Click on the item.
Be sure to set the In place option on as well as the T-pose auto-fix option.

Click on Download, change the format to FBX and click Download again, we will rename it Mixamo_animation.fbx

To summary, we have now a collada file for the character in bind pose plus a collada file for the animation.
Well done ! Let see how ShiVa will handle that files…

Export the animation

To be able to import the animation in ShiVa, we will have to ask 3DsMax to export the animation ( if you try to download the collada from Mixamo, it will not work as expected ).
Go back to Max, Select File > Import, navigate to the file downloaded from the Mixamo website ( Mixamo_animation.fbx) and be sure to have the following state checked : Animation, Deformation, Skins, also set the include mode to Add and Update scene elements and be sure to have the scale factor set to 1.0.

You have now your character animated in 3Dsmax.

One more step before being able to export for ShiVa is to reduce the time line to fit the animation length so open the Time Configuration tool and set the Animation End time to match your animation lenght ( here 68 )

Select File > Export, select the Collada format and export ( women-animation-for-shiva.dae ).
You shouldn’t have to change ant parameters in the export windows if your first collada export was well setup ( animation, deformations, skins, up Axis : Z-up ).

Setup the model in ShiVa

Open ShiVa Editor,  General desktop, in the DataExplorer Module, select Import > Model, in “file to import”, select the character exported from Max the first time ( women-bindpose-for-shiva.dae )
Check Convert from Z to Yup axis and uncheck Animation in the filter part.

Double click on the model to open it, In the Scene Viewer, select Display > Skeleton to show the skinning ( the pink lines ) .
The skeleton must fit the mesh otherwise it means that you’ve missed something in the first part.

Import and play animation

To import the animation, select Import > AnimClip in the DataExplorer, check Convert from Z to Y up axis option and select the collada exported from Max the second time (  women-animation-for-shiva.dae )

Drag’n'drop the new resources directly on the selected mesh, you will be asked to create an AnimBank ( cf animation concept ), click Yes

To see the result, In the top left area, load the AnimBank Editor, Select AnimBank > Open and select the newly created animbank in the drop-down list ( auto-created animBank will inherit the mesh name ).
Double click on the first field, the animation is playing !

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