Characters continued

So I ran into a problem with characters when I tried to load the FBX example Zombie.fbx. It turns out the skeleton in that particular scene isn’t keyed directly, but indirectly using a HIK rig. So when I tried to read the animations from the scene, I got nothing, every curve was a null pointer. I’ve tried back and forth just getting the character in the scene, but the HIK rig doesn’t really NEED to follow the actual skeleton, so there is no exact way of knowing it will fit. Instead, I go into Maya and bake the simulation. This won’t bake the animation to be per-vertex, but instead it will make sure every joint is keyed identically to all it’s effectors. The reason why I don’t really want to read characters in total is not because of simple rig-to-joint connections, but also because of effectors. So a skeleton might be linked to another HIK rig, but the animations are not identical, just slightly identical. Baking the simulation will make sure that every effector along with every possible related skeleton gets keyed in the skinned skeleton.

I really hope MotionBuilder can do the same, because otherwise we are going to be stuck using a single animation layer until the Maya FBX exporter gets support for exporting multiple takes.

I’ve also been working on getting the model files to update when one exports a previously existing Maya scene. The thing is that if one has spent lots of time modifying textures and shader variables, and then decides to tamper with the base mesh or possibly the entire scene, the model file will still retain the information previously supplied. This is a way to compensate for the fact that we can’t set shaders, textures and shader variables in Maya, but have to do it in an external program. When this is done, only meshes with identical names to those already existing in the model file will retain their attributes, all others have to be changed in the material editor.