Animation Workflow

I’m working on a project and I need to make a lot of animations for many different characters. I’m struggling to find a decent workflow for the rigging/animation. I have done quite a bit of research, and from what I have gathered, the problem might be that I am using 3ds Max, while the standard animation tool for unreal 4 is on Maya. While I’m not against the idea of learning Maya, I would like to know what is the best way to work on 3ds Max in the meantime.

The challenge I face right now is that I need to work on many small, interlocked animations, and if I need to change one animation, I often need to make changes to others animations as well to reflect that change. Having all the animations on one timeline is pretty unpractical at best, and having one animation per file seems pretty slow. One way I found was to work with CAT rigs, having one animations per CAT layer, but I am encountering some weird bugs that make the hands of my character shake while using the IKs. Biped seems outdated though I have not tried it. Animations layers combined with a custom rig seems like it might work, but it doesn’t seem like the best way either.

What tools should I use ?

If you don’t want to use Maya, the best option - Motionbuilder. I’m using a student license. There are animation layers, great tools for character animation and facial animation, tools for retargeting and working with mocap-data. In Motionbuilder you can do little bits of animation - “Take”, combine them, add variations through the layers, copy, change duration and so on. The storyline in Motionbuilder is when you can put little pieces of animation (takes) on the timeline just like in the UE4-sequencer and make them something larger. Personally, I use two: 3DS Max for modeling and Motionbuilder for animations.