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v2022 Autodesk MotionBuilder

Autodesk MotionBuilder
  

3D character animation software

MotionBuilder® 3D character animation software for virtual production helps you to more efficiently manipulate and refine data with greater reliability. Capture, edit, and playback complex character animation in a highly responsive, interactive environment. Work with a display optimized for both animators and directors.

Produce high-quality 3D character animations with prebuilt moves

Capture, edit, and playback complex animations with MotionBuilder® 3D character animation software. Work in an interactive environment optimized to help you work faster and more efficiently without compromising creativity.

Autodesk MotionBuilder Features

Real-time 3D engine

Create realistic human movement with one of the industry’s fastest animation tools. MotionBuilder provides you with many tools that make it easy to create a realistic movement for a character.

For the sake of simplicity, this topic discusses how the MotionBuilder character engine works with biped or human skeletons. There are special conditions and exceptions when animating quadrupeds that are beyond the scope of this section.

Before you can successfully animate a character, it is important to understand how skeletons move and how MotionBuilder can help you recreate believable motion.

Productivity-geared workflows

Access a unified nondestructive, nonlinear editing environment.

Once you have set keyframes or opened a file containing motion capture data, you can continue to refine your animation. You can edit keyframe animation by manipulating function curves and modifying interpolation. You can also use filters to clean, manipulate, and modify animation.

Motion capture editing

Fine-tune character animations with production-proven tools used to manipulate motion capture data.

Smooth interoperability

Includes a software development kit and FBX data exchange for interoperability with other 3D applications.

Using the single-step interoperability features, you can exchange data between MotionBuilder and Maya, MotionBuilder and 3ds Max, or MotionBuilder and Softimage. You must have matching versions of these applications installed on your system before you can use the single-step options.

Take on demanding, high-volume projects with MotionBuilder

  • Support for consumer motion-capture devices
  • Re-create elements of real-world cinematography with advanced camera options for Animatable Depth and Follow Focus
  • Combine, blend, and layer to block out or previsualize scenes in less time with an additional 100 useful character animations
  • Unified nondestructive, nonlinear editing environment
  • Live device support and live data recording to disk
  • Full-body inverse kinematics character technology with animation retargeting
  • Available as a 64-bit executable for the Linux operating system

What’s New In MotionBuilder 2022

This release includes significant developer-focused improvements, including support for Python 3 and related updates. This release also includes substantial improvements to the Story tool as well as several other general workflow enhancements.

Python 3

Python 3 is now available for MotionBuilder and is the new default on both Windows and Linux. To explain, Python 3 support provides developers with performance, security, and dev-centric language enhancements, while support for PIP delivers instant access to the latest libraries and tools.

Note: You can still launch in Python 2 mode by setting an environment variable or using a command-line flag.

Refer to the MotionBuilder Developer help for detailed documentation updates. Supplementing the new Python 3 support, you’ll also find the following improvements in MotionBuilder 2022.

More powerful command line

The Python command-line tool in MotionBuilder has been significantly improved. You can now use mobupy.exe to call the MotionBuilder Python SDK, which opens the door to new capabilities that weren’t previously possible, such as file processing and rendering from the command line.

Expanded Python API

Based on common feedback from developers, the MotionBuilder Python API has been expanded and improved to include many additional capabilities. See What’s New in the MotionBuilder 2022 SDK for details.

  • set last selected model
  • new FBTransportAudioManager class
  • new TRS methods to modify Actor (IK Manip off)
  • get the main window
  • manage layouts
  • get referenced property
  • change FBTool title bar caption after creation
  • get and set Const Key Reducer threshold
  • support for QtSql
  • expose pAskUser…

Python Editor updates

Each script tab in the Python Editor can now display an ‘x’ (Close) button, giving you a quick way to close scripts and making it much more efficient to manage multiple script tabs at once.

A new Show Close Button on Each Tab preference in the Python preferences lets you control whether these close buttons display in the Python Editor.

New mode in FCurves Window

In the FCurves Window, animators can now visualize real Quaternion Rotation properties that match the evaluation values, instead of displaying them as normal FCurves. Toggle this mode by right-clicking and selecting Real Quaternion Rotations in the FCurves context menu. Additionally, a new Showing Real Quaternion Rotations HUD displays in the FCurve Editor, when enabled.

Character Extension keyframing improvement

With MotionBuilder 2022, a new property for Character Extensions simplifies the keyframing process by letting you more easily animate them in conjunction with an associated Body Part. Enable the new Add to Body Part property in the Character Extension properties to key a character extension whenever the body part containing a reference object of the extension is selected.
Improved UX for Auxiliary Effectors in the Character Controls

A new Automatically Expand Auxiliaries preference in the Character preferences lets you control whether the auxiliary pivots/effectors should be automatically shown or not when working with the Character Controls. This saves time for animators by reducing the number of actions required to expand IK auxiliaries each time you select individual effectors in the Character Controls.

Relation constraints + animation layers

You can now add an animation layer in a relation constraint to control the weight of the layer. Additionally, the layers are now shown and parented to their respective takes in the Navigator window. This means you can include relation constraints in an animation layer while also controlling layer weight. It also gives animators improved visibility of the layer relationships within the Navigator.

Autodesk MotionBuilder 2022 Relation constraints + animation layers

Note: No validation occurs when users create a loop, similarly, to other relation constraint objects. For example, a cube position affecting the weight value of a layer. The cube moves in an unexpected way when the cube position affects by the same layer that the cube affects.

See also Using animation layer weighting in a Relations constraint and Creating a Relations constraint.

Camera Plate Offset and Scale

New Offset X/Y and Scale X/Y options added to the camera back and front plates. To explain, it gives you more precise control over the transformation of the camera plates. These new options become available when the Fit option becomes disabled. In addition, they work in conjunction with the existing Center and Maintain Ratio settings. When the Maintain Ratio option is enabled, the new Scale Y value/animation is ignored, and Scale X is used for both.

See Back Plate plane and Front Plate plane for updated information.

Group & Set enhancements

Autodesk motionbuilder 2022 Group & Set enhancements

There is a new option available in the Groups/Sets Tool, Activate Recursively, that lets you preserve the Show/Pick/Trs state of Groups/Sets when toggling a parent node.

If toggling on the Group or Set while the option is enabled, all nested groups or sets are be turned on. If toggling on the Group or Set while the option is disabled, only the nested groups or sets that are already checked will be checked again.

See Adding and removing sub-groups, and Creating and removing sub-sets

HUD hierarchies in the Navigator

The Navigator now supports drag and drop parenting of HUDs, making it easier to associate things like HUD-style rig control setups with cameras. With your HUDs now nice & organized in a hierarchy, it’s much simpler to attach them to cameras and render in the Viewer.

Motionbuilder navagator

See Parenting HUD assets.

Better Audio Display

If you’ve gotten used to having to switch back and forth from the FCurve Editor in order to see your audio waveform, we have good news! Similar to the FCurve Editor, the Camera Switcher can now display the audio waveform from an audio clip or a Story audio track. This makes it easier for animators to stay in the flow while using audio in the Camera Switcher.

motionbuilder audio display

New Undo Window

For the first time in MotionBuilder, a new Undo window gives you a detailed view of the command history, letting you see and update the current level within the undo stack.
motionbuilder undo window

To access the Undo window, see Window > Undo in the MotionBuilder main menubar.

Customizable Splash Screen

Tool developers can now modify the MotionBuilder splash screen with custom imagery using the new environment variable MOTIONBUILDER_ICON_PATH. We put this in for studios that want to customize the startup experience in order to differentiate between different projects or tool versions.

See Customizing the MotionBuilder splash screen.

Faster Image Loading

When loading a scene file, you can now have images contained in the file load in parallel, significantly speeding up the loading process. This is ideal for those of us with a need for speed, a need for speed specifically when opening files with numerous large images (for example when you are working with scenes with image-based reference footage).

See Loading Preferences for more information.

C3D Import improvements

Now, you can control the up axis of a C3D file on import with the new Up Axis Used in File option in the Custom Import options. This control over which axis is up is very useful in relation to HIK.

Viewport selection accuracy

Motionbuilder viewport selection

Several of the updates improved the selection accuracy for objects in the viewport. For example, interactively select objects such as cameras and locators more predictably. You probably don’t need much more updated documentation for this one, but we hope you’re going to feel and notice the difference!

Story Tool fixes

Based on feedback from power users, we made a number of targeted fixes and stability improvements related to the Story window and some of its associated features. Animators will experience workflow improvements and increased stability when working in the Story tools.

New pivot hotkey

The shortcut key for toggling the Use IK Pivot has been replaced from the ‘D’ key to the ‘Ctrl+D’ key for all interaction modes. The reason behind this change was that the legacy shortcut key was error-prone in the Maya interaction mode because the ‘S’, ‘W’, ‘E’, ‘R’ and ‘F’ key are commonly used and it was easy to wrongly press the ‘D’ key, which was changing the interaction behavior without a clear indication in the UI that Use IK Pivot was active.

See Character keyboard shortcuts.

Control over the crash report (CER) window

When MotionBuilder crashes on Windows, in most cases a crash reporting (CER) window pops up to let you send the crash report to Autodesk (thank you!). With automated processes though, this CER window could cause processes to hang until you manually interacted with the window.

To help avoid this situation, we added a new config file that lets you disable showing that CER window and sending reports to Autodesk but still create the *.log and *.dmp files in the user folder.

You can access and modify the config file in C:\Users\{username}\Documents\MB\{version}\config\Cip\Cip.txt.

Note: This value is only read on MotionBuilder startup, so if you choose to modify and save this config file, make sure to restart MotionBuilder so that it will take effect.

Support for AIF files on Linux

A new library named libaudiofile comes within the MotionBuilder Linux setup. This makes it possible to import an AIF file.

SDK improvements

See the MotionBuilder Developer Help What’s New for more changes to the MotionBuilder SDK.

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Autodesk® MotionBuilder® 2019 software is supported on the following 64-bit operating systems and at a minimum, requires a system with the following 64-bit hardware:

Software

Operating System

  • Microsoft® Windows® 10. See Autodesk’s Product Support Lifecycle for support information.
  • Linux® Red Hat® Enterprise 8.2, 7.6-7.9 WS operating system
  • Linux® CentOS 8.2, 7.6-7.9 operating system

Browser

Autodesk recommends the latest version of the following web browsers for access to online supplemental content:

  • Apple® Safari®
  • Google Chrome™
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer®
  • Mozilla® Firefox®

Hardware

CPU

  • 64-bit Intel® or AMD® multi-core processor

Graphics Hardware

Refer to the Maya Certified Hardware page for a detailed list of recommended systems and graphics cards

RAM

  • 8 GB of RAM (16 GB or more recommended)

Disk Space

  • 4 GB of free disk space for install

Pointing Device

  • Three-button mouse

What’s new in Motionbuilder 2020?

Improved playback

  • Toggle manipulator visibility: You can now turn on the new Display > Hide Manipulators during Playback option to remove all manipulator elements during scene playback, providing you with a cleaner viewing experience.
  • Render scenes using MP4: MP4 is now an Output Format in the Render window.

Bookmarks in the Schematic view

New bookmarks in the Schematic view let you quickly jump from one region of the schematic to another, eliminating the need to manually search for nodes. Bookmarks save the x and y position of the existing nodes, the expanded or collapsed state of the nodes, and the width, height, and zoom factor used by the Schematic view.

Lock story clips

You can now lock story clips using the new In/Out Locked property. Locking a clip prevents animators from accidentally moving or retiming a clip, and avoids subsequent issues that can arise later in the animation pipeline.

New custom Frame Rate support

The frame rate 119.88 is now supported. This is a standard used for UHDTV and many cameras.

Unlimited undo levels

A new Undo preference (Settings > Preferences > Undo) lets you set an infinite undo queue.

Support for arithmetic operations

Numeric and timecode fields now support basic arithmetic operations.

Modify a single axis using a delta numerical value

Simply double-click a translation arrow, rotation ring, or scaling handle, and enter a value to precisely transform the object.

Resize Add/Remove Namespace window

The Add/Remove Namespace window now easily accommodates long namespaces. The window’s default size is larger than in previous releases, and it can now be resized.

SDK Help improvements

When starting MotionBuilder from the command line the -3 flag is now supported, enabling Python 3000 compatibility warnings.

What’s new in Motionbuilder 2019?

Camera Switcher improvements

The following are improvements and fixes to the Camera Switcher:

  • Improved look and feel: The list of cameras in now displayed in a separate left pane, making it quicker and easier to select cameras.
  • Lock switches: Ctrl-select multiple camera switches, right-click the Switcher timeline, and then select Link Selected Clips to lock the selection together, making it easier to move and edit multiple switches at once.
  • Move camera switches: Drag the selected camera switch(es) to reposition them on the Switcher timeline.

New embedded media settings

New embedded media settings in the Saving preferences let you select a specific location for your media files locally and preserve their original file paths. You can also enable a warning that appears before saving a scene with embedded files.

Reduce file size with Clean Up Scene

A new tool, Clean Up Scene, has been added in the File menu to let you remove empty or unused assets from your scene. This helps you organize your scene and reduce file size.

Translation tool updates

The following improvements have been made to the translation tool:

  • Translate objects in local relative space: You can now move multiple objects in their own respective local space using the translation tool. Instead of applying to all of the selected objects like a global translation, the local translation only applies to the object with the translation handle.
  • Parent Reference Mode: Lets you translate an object along the axes of the object’s parent.

Story Window improvements

The following updates and fixes improve the overall performance of the Story window:

  • Ripple Manipulator: The new ripple manipulator lets you scale a clip and move the position of all subsequent clips at the same time. The change in one clip’s duration moves all subsequent clips later on the timeline. To see the manipulator, extend the clip length and track height. See Scaling Clips.
  • Sync Shot and Shot Clip Lengths: You can now sync the lengths of a shot and its associated shot clip when stretching one or the other, instead of creating loops. To enable this new mode, click motionbuilder icon in the Story window controls or turn on Maintain Shot and Shot Clip Lengths Synced from the Story context menu. This mode only affects shots and shots clips and does not affect other types of clips (animation, audio, video). Before using this mode, Time Discontinuity and Loop mode must be turned on.
  • Show or hide a clip’s text: The following new options can be used to hide a story clip’s text during playback and manipulation, improving performance in scenes that have many clips:
    • Disable motionbuilder icon in the Story window controls to hide text.
    • Turn on Settings > Preferences > Story > Remove Clips’ Texts During Playback & Manipulation to hide text.
  • Shot display: Shots are now displayed on multiple tracks, making it easier to manipulate them.
  • Matching shot and shot clip colors: In previous versions, shots were always red, now a shot is the same color as its corresponding shot clip.
  • Show or hide shots: By default, a shot is hidden if its associated shot track is minimized or collapsed. Turn on the new preference Settings > Preferences > Story > Display Minimized Action Shot Clips to display shots belonging to shot tracks that are minimized or collapsed.

Play all takes consecutively

A new option in the Transport Controls lets you playback all takes consecutively. To enable this option, click the motionbuilder icon button until motionbuilder icon appears. When this option is active and the time cursor reaches the end of the first take, the next take plays automatically. Playback stops once the end of the last take is reached.
Note: If reverse playback is enabled, playback stops once the beginning of the first take is reached.

FCurves Preferences

The following options are now available in the FCurves preferences:

  • Detect Invalid Keys: An invalid FCurve key can be inserted in a curve following a computation error. When enabled, this new preference detects when an invalid key is inserted, and displays an error message if needed. The problematic key value is automatically reset to 0 and can be fixed manually.
  • Force New Keys on Ordinal Property to Step: When enabled (default), keying an ordinal property generates a Step key.

Character Controls: Pinning Presets

A new Pinning Presets icon motionbuilder icon in the Controls tab of the Character Controls window lets animators save frequently used pinning setups. It is now possible to save Translation and Rotation pinning values into a unique preset file, and multiple preset files can be saved with different pinning values. Presets can be loaded at any time, eliminating the need to pin and unpin the same effectors repeatedly.

Baking Improvements

The following new options are now available in the Plot All Properties window:

  • Plot Aux Effectors: When turned off, this option prevents auxiliary effectors from snapping their position onto their related effectors when plotting to the Control Rig.
  • Evaluate Deformation: When turned on, allows deformation during the baking process.

Control automatic popup of Character Controls

A new option in the Application.txt config file lets you control when the Character Controls opens. By default, the Character Contols opens automatically when a new character or actor is loaded. Set the new PopUpCharachterControlonce option to No to disable this behavior.

Control Human Finger Limits default value

A new Human Finger Limits preference (Settings > Preferences > Character) has been added to control the default value of the Character’s HumanFingerLimits property value when creating a new character. The preference is turned off by default.

FBX Version 2019.5

MotionBuilder 2019 picks up the latest version of FBX (2019.5), which provides various bug fixes.

Support for DDS bc6 and bc7 video formats

It is now possible to open a DDS image file compressed with the bc6 or bc7 format natively in MotionBuilder.

LTC device support

The LTC device is now available if you are running MotionBuilder on Linux.

Run MotionBuilder in batch mode

MotionBuilder can now be run in batch mode, letting you execute commands without the interface. To do so, the -batch flag must be used when starting MotionBuilder. The batch flag is usually used for executing a Python script, which can be set with the -F flag.
Note: The -batch command is not used for batch rendering.

Time precision improvements

MotionBuilder 2019 introduces a more accurate tick rate, and the precision of the working rate has been adjusted to match Maya. While working the new rate is used, but while saving the legacy rate is used. This results in greater precision while working, but the same precision as the past while saving.

Set variables in Python console during start up

The Python Editor now reads the content of the C:Users[username]DocumentsMB[version]-x64configPythonpythonidelib_init.py file, allowing users to execute specific code on startup, like shortcut variables. If the file doesn’t exist, MotionBuilder creates it. For example, after scn = FBSystem().Scene is added to pythonidelib_init.py, the shortcut variable scn can be used in the Python Editor each time the editor is launched.

SDK Help improvements

You can access SDK Help topics directly from the MotionBuilder Help table of contents as well as use the help system’s improved search feature.

View Bug Fixes here

Creating a Walk Cycle in Maya

In 2015 I wrote an article about how to create a walk cycle with several tutorials and examples, plus, some animals, not just people! This article is a follow up, focused on Maya. Yes, we missed Maya Monday due to the holiday yesterday, but we’ll do it like the garbage man, and bump things back a day!

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