Animation packs missing root motion

I’m so sick of buying animation packs and having to badger the creator for a week to get them to do root motion correctly.

When is root motion optional? Well I’m glad you asked. Root motion is optional on animations of non-locomotive actions that do not move the mesh outside of its collision capsule. Non-locomotive means that the animation is not changing where the character is in the world, but only the pose that the character is in. Changes in posture, aiming directions, and hand gestures all fall into this category. Walking and running loops also fall into this category, as they are meant to loop while the character’s movement component causes locomotion.

When is root motion NOT OPTIONAL? Any other scenario. Anytime the character mesh could be moving outside of its collision capsule. Any action that should be changing where the character is in the world. Nearly any type of melee attack.

Here is a basic rule. Horizontal motion goes on the root bone, not the pelvis. Always. Vertical motion goes on the root when the entire character is moving up or down in space. Otherwise, vertical motion should go on the pelvis.

Why is root motion so important? If your animations are supposed to have it and don’t, then they are completely useless to game development. It doesn’t matter how pretty they may look.
Major issue 1: The character capsule and mesh will be misaligned without it. The character mesh will end up clipping through the world. Collisions will not look right.
Major issue 2: The character mesh will snap back to its initial position once the animation is over. Looks awful. Breaks the flow of motion.
Major issue 3: IK will not work correctly without it. IK bones are typically used with the ‘Animation Scaled’ option. They are parented to the root. They will scale from the root. Your root is way to the right of your character? Well, now both hands are way to the left.

It is baffling to me why so many animators are dumping content on the marketplace without even the most basic knowledge of how animations are used inside Unreal Engine 4. It would also seem that Epic is not taking this into consideration during QA, or that they aren’t actually doing QA at all.

I can fully understand you being frustrated as a customer that a pack might not be to your liking, but that doesn’t mean you should spam the marketplace forum with 3 different threads on the same topic within a 12 hour period. Not only does it clutter the forums, it divides the areas of feedback on the specific topic you are providing. If you feel that some products on the marketplace aren’t adhering to the standards, inform the epic staff and they’ll contact the seller to figure out what’s going on.

I made three threads on three separate topics that affect two completely different types of marketplace assets. I’m guessing you didn’t read them. I’m speaking in general about issues that keep cropping up and are not limited to specific sellers. The fact these problems are not limited to specific sellers means that a significant portion of blame does not rest with specific sellers. Do you have anything to contribute to the topic of root motion on marketplace animation asset packs?

I have actually, they all deal with animation which is why I found it a little strange that you’d make 3 unique threads in one day when you could have covered the contents in one post. I’m only trying to help you consolidate it in one area so that your feedback can be properly addressed rather than pulling people in 3 different directions, but you do whatever seems best to you. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I Agree with Se_JonF. Don’t get it wrong, I think your threads should almost be a sticky. It’s so hard to find information related to those three areas you’re trying to address in 3 different threads. Honestly, The way UE4 works with animation is a little bit annoying. Especially with humanoids and the UE4 Skeleton. reading the docs don’t help much and it’s only with the experience of veteran users that people like me can gather IMPORTANT information…
I’m a UE4 Marketplace content creator, mostly animated characters. A lot of them are creatures so the only threads that make sense for them is the one about root motion. This, I managed to figure it out. It’s in the docs. To me it’s a limitation / constraint of UE4 engine. root has to be at (0,0,0) with (0,0,0) rotation. I usually use the 3DS max Biped to ri and animate now for the root motion I have to parent the root of the biped to a root bone at (0,0,0).
Now the UE4 Skeleton is still confusing despite what you answer the other day in the other thread… And here it’s annoying to have to look up different threads regarding animations ( see Jon is right)
To me the UE4 skeleton for a humanoid character has to be used as is ( exact same hierarchy, joints count, size, orientation and naming convention). Here again it appears to me that it’s another limitation constraining you to have humanoid character the exact same proportion as the UE4 skeleton ( I can be totally wrong but it’s the way I understand it) I have humanoid ish characters with really different proportion than the UE4 skeleton, they are not rig onto the UE4 skeleton. They have been approved. Is it right or wrong , well I can’t tell… :frowning:
When submitting content to the marketplace they ask if : “rig to UE4 Skeleton”, “scaled to UE4 Skeleton”. Confusing again. What exactly does that mean? scaled to UE4 Skeleton would mean it’s a humanoid character with a humanoid rig which IS NOT the UE4 Skeleton but has the exact same joints sizes???
I’ve been postponing some humanoid characters that to my opinion should be UE4 Skeleton until I figure out everything about it… and now you opened a new thread about IK bones… Just adding up to the list of unsolved things that I do really want to figure out…
It can also be frustrating for publishers to develop for UE4…

I’ve pondered on it a bit and I think you guys are right. I’m going to organize my thoughts on different asset types and make a big thread with my own ideas of best practices and try to explain them in terms creators can actually understand instead of them having to find out through trial and error. I talked to a bunch of different creators yesterday and it was universally that they just didn’t know things needed to be done a certain way.

Btw, the way I understand it, ‘Scaled to UE4 Skeleton’ means it is on the same scale as the mannequin. This is for any model, not just characters. If its a car, the mannequin needs to fit in the seat to check yes. Most things will be scaled this way. Something like a planet or a star won’t though, because that would be entirely impractical. (maybe even impossible to import)

If you do that it would be awesome and I would be personally eternally grateful! Such a mine of information for content creators (here mostly characters and or animations) is so valuable. You’ll be helping so many people, and the marketplace would be improved since all the products would now comply with the way UE4 actually works ( which is sometimes annoying and frustrating) Time and money will be saved on all sides…

I plan to begin producing characters in the future, so I agree with @PROTOFACTOR that feedback on this is indeed useful.

All right, need your help @**BlackRang666 **… My submission has been rejected because I’m not using the Epic Skeleton. I need to rename the bones to the Epic Skeleton naming convention… My character is a Dwelf ( well a hobbit but of course you can’t use that name…) So the scale is totally different from the Epic Skeleton. This means that your Epic Skeleton can be pretty much any size and proportion as long as you have the same number of bones the Epic Skeleton has.
Question though: My character has some extra bones for sword, slingshot etc… can these bones be attached to the rig without breaking the Epic Skeleton constraints??? is there a certain way they should be named?? I have an undead (humanoid ) character coming soon after and would really love to be right on target for that submission without bugging the vetting team with some annoying back and forth.
Thanks in again for sharing your knowledge.
Cheers! :slight_smile:
Edit: also my character has only 2 spine bones, do I need to add a third one in order to comply to the Epic Skeleton?

The scale of your character doesn’t matter, it doesn’t have to be the same size of the Mannequin;
What does matter is the scale of your character relative to the scale of the Mannequin, because it is the base point of reference, get it?!
A Hobbit will be smaller than the actual Mannequin and that is fine; but it must be the correct scale of smaller, relative to the scale of Mannequin in World Space coordinates.

For humanoids you must use the Mannequin’s skeleton, no matter what scale the character is (relative to).
You can change the scale of the rig to fit your character’s mesh, but if you use a custom rig then most likely retargeting won’t work.

You can add extra bones to the Mannequin skeleton, but you cannot add extra bones in between the default existing ones;
Example: Add facial animation bones or hair bones to the head joint, but NEVER add a bone between Neck and Head joints.
You can extend, not modify the skeleton.

Why should i buy a character model from the Unreal marketplace which is
1. Not rigged to the Unreal mannequin
2. Costs less, over at Unity store
3. Is limited to default animations, which often look dated, or missing certain animations

In my opinion Unreal market should remove all character models which lack proper rigging.

While in Unity you can easily enable/disable bones, in Unreal developers prefer models without any extras attached, because

1. It is kind of a hazzle to hide bones
2. Character independent meshes (weapons, gear …) can be attached on the fly, and offering more sophisticated variation options (random setups)

However, it would be a great incentive if extra gear items are rigged to the model (come as skeleton meshes, prefered with morph targets), but are delivered independently.

A-1: because it’s something else than a humanoid for example, but I’m sure you were talking about humanoid.
A-2: unreal don’ let developers chose their price, for consistency they do the $.99 thing.
A-3: if not humanoid then there are not so many choices besides exporting to fbx the Skin pose version and adding some new animations in a 3rd party program.

B-1&2: not sure about the programming workflow in UE4 but indeed if you have a character with optional meshes that you can swap out or show / hide then in UE4 it’s best practice to only export individual pieces that you can assemble via Blueprint or C++. At least that’s what I do for my characters submitted for UE4. All extra optional meshes or pieces of armor, in my case, are usually skinned to the rig. I set up a showcase blueprint with the “Set Master Pose component” for the extra meshes and voilà…

Now thanks for your input but that wasn’t really helpful unfortunately… :frowning:

UE4 has some limitations and constraints regarding humanoid that are not extremely clear, leading to confusion and mistakes… Also their pipeline is limiting, constraining artists to use Maya or Motion Builder for rigging and/or animations. On my end I use 3DS max with Biped, It’s a lot of extra step to rig an additional skeleton to the Epic Skeleton… The way i figure things at the moment is rigging with biped, create another rig with basic bones snapped to the biped bones, full of constraints (look at and position) to be driven by the biped one. Skin the model onto that second rig. Start animating in 3DS max with the biped and export the animations from the second rig… Also Biped doesn’t allow you to rename the bones the way you want…
Another way I though of would be to rig and animate in 3DS max with Biped with almost the exact same hierarchy ( here you’d have to unlink pelvis/hips from the biped root and parent it to a new root bone at (0,0,0), export the thing to fbx with the whole animated timeline. reimport that fbx, rename the bones to the Epic Skeleton naming convention and finally re export each individual animations meshes etc…
If anyone else know of a better workflow I’m all ears. Really want to get some stuff done and it’s pretty frustrating to experience delays because of what I consider constraints that should have been smoothed out …

I would buy many of your humanoids if they were rigged to the UE mannequin, and extras like weapons are separate. Also some models like the Witch are not available for purchase, only accessible in a pack with content which not fits my game design scope. I can imagine that many think same, once you can use additional animations the market really explodes.

Ok, and here again there are inconsistencies with why this last model got denied when the others went through… Anyways, If I can find an easy way to “fix” this, the characters you mentioned will be updated. However I really want first to wrap my head around the “Epic skeleton” concept. So little time for experiments, trials and errors. that’s why if people like me can find precise info, technical ways to handle stuff that would be great …
Regarding the witch, it was part of a whole pack that got approved… now if I submit it as is it might again be problematic with the “Epic Skeleton” requirements…

That’s what I’m curious about as well, before I dive into character creation. The Epic mannequin proportions are a little off, especially for female characters. I can’t really find any extensive documentation dealing with this, the stuff on the wiki isn’t extremely lengthy or detailed in my opinion. This is something I will need to figure out before any work begins on characters, because proportions can’t be changed after the fact without distorting the model. If anyone has information on this, it would be helpful. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve held off doing character work. It’s too much work already before the complications with the skeleton. I understand the need to have it rigged to the Epic skeleton for consistency sake, but more details on how to do that with a character whose proportions are wildly different would be insightful.

Ok, so… after some trial and errors and a ton of frustration… UE4 is really not meant for 3Ds max users who mostly use the Character Studio Biped… I managed to find a work around with the Epic Skeleton. It’s a lot of annoying extra steps but I can’t figure out any other way at the moment.
Here are the steps to be able to use the animations from the UE4 mannequin:
In 3DS max:
1/ create a CS biped with 3 spines, one neck joint, one toe with only one link, five fingers with 3 joints each, check the create twist bones for upper arm, forearm, calf and thigh ( so 8 twist bones).
2/ re parent some few bones: make the pelvis a child of the root bone (the little diamond thing inside the pelvis), make the thighs and first spine children of the root bone, make the 2 clavicles and the neck children of the last spine. the twist bones need to be child of their respective bones (ThighTwist child of Thigh etc…)
3/ create a new root bone (with a basic bone) that has the same orientation has the worl and at position (0,0,0)
4/ re parent the CS Biped root to that new root.
5/ create the IK bones: ik_foot_root—> ik_foot_l + ik_foot_r and ik_hand_root—> ik_hand_gun —> ik_hand_l + ik_hand_r. The root IKs are children of the main root. IK gun is at the right hand position, same for the IK hand right, Feet IKs are at their respective foot position.
6/ animate just like usual you character using the CS biped toolset.
7/ select your character mesh and the rig and the whole entire animated timeline.
8/ export selected to fbx (mention that z is up since we’re in max and not Maya).
9/ open a new 3DS max scene
10/ import the fbx you just exported
11/ rename all the bones to match the UE4 mannequin bones’ names ( root // ik_foot_root—> ik_foot_l + ik_foot_r ; ik_hand_root—> ik_hand_gun —> ik_hand_l + ik_hand_r
pelvis //
thigh_l + thigh_twist_01_l, calf_l + cal_twist_01_l, foot_l, ball_l // thigh_r + thigh_twist_01_r, calf_r + cal_twist_01_r, foot_r, ball_r
// spine_01, spine_02, spine_03, neck_01, head //

clavicle_r, upperarm_r + upperarm_twist_01_r, lowerarm_r + lowerarm_twist_01_r, hand_r,

thumb_01_r, thumb_02_r, thumb_03_r
index_01_r, index_02_r, index_03_r
middle_01_r, middle_02_r, middle_03_r
ring_01_r, ring_02_r, ring_03_r
pinky_01_r, pinky_2_r, pinky_03_r

When renaming you’ll have to rename the CS biped root (diamond shape thingy) to “pelvis” and the real root to “root”

12/ once the whole renaming is done you can finally export the character itself and the animations as usual…

When usually at step 7 I would be able to export a character there are all the 5 extras steps to follow in order to have a character compatible with the animations from UE4 mannequin…

Also it’s not quite done once you’ve exported everything… You still need to use the retarget manager in UE4 and duplicate the UE4 Mannequin animations to have your new character use the Epic skeleton…

I really think the Unreal developers team should help out the 3DS max users who uses 3ds max… they invested money in Blender, created an animation toolset for Maya and nothing for us…

If anyone has a better and faster workflow, I WANT to know… a lot more steps that can lead to error and mistakes… Hoe that would be helpful for some users…