Basic animation set

I’ve spent the last 2 days trying to edit open mocap data from CMU to produce walk, run, jump, idle etc. animations for my character and get them working on a MakeHuman model. So far I’ve managed to get a reasonable run, walk and jump done, but I am struggling to find a decent idle animation and still need to do loads more for the side stepping, crouching etc.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in finding this bit of the game creation puzzle rather tricky. I know there are things like Mixamo, Daz3d etc. which can create game-ready characters but I am not happy with the flexibility, pricing and licensing of those. Makehuman is great, if only I could get some decent locomotion animations I could easily hand animate or use kinect motion capture for the extra bits like hand gestures etc.

TLDR: Does anyone know of any freely available animation packs out there with a decent set of basic animations working?
If it doesn’t already exist, I think it would be really great if we could put this together as a community resource - I’d be happy to share my walk and run cycles that work with the MakeHuman IK rig if other people have anims to share too.

I’m running into the same problem. Animations are a huge bottleneck.

Might not be feasible for you, but you could look into picking up one of the DexSoft character packs that has animation and retarget to your character (that adds a whole nother can of worms and extra work, though).

Its just like any other aspect of game development u got to keep learning and keep at it. Animations is something we all have to tackle and will likely be unique enough to require making them yourself, thus no cookie cutter sets will do. However not opposed to them being there.

Well, actually… a walk is pretty much a walk. A run is pretty much a run. And in practice most of us are using the same open mocap data sets to make them anyway. Of course there are all sorts of variations you can do, but personally I find with a small team there’s more than enough work to be doing to worry about if my walk cycle looks the same as in the next guy’s game.

We’re going to make all our own models, characters, maps and locations - I’m really quite OK with using a generic set of basic locomotion animations to save days of work that could be spent on the gameplay instead. I’m guessing a lot of people are. Except there doesn’t seem to be one. :frowning:

Welcome to the MakeHuman crowd :wink:

I too had quick results getting the MakeHuman models to work in UE4. I used KingBadger’s MakeHuman - Blender - UE4 approach. It’s very easy to include some free mocap data (there are several universities that provide “real free” mocap data, just google “bvh”). A tool that might come in handy is the “bvhacker”, if you didn’t know about it already. This site has a good overview:

Though, I’m stuck. I have no idea how to make changeable cloths, how to stop skin from bleeding through cloths in some animations (I tried different approaches) and I couldn’t get the fracking IK Two Bone thing to work on my MakeHuman-based character in UE4. Good looking hair is an issue too.

I’d welcome an open-source based community effort to create a character workflow based on MakeHuman, Blender, etc.

I still have no idea how to adapt my models (I have Fuse) and animations - couldn’t get them working on UE4 so far. However I was programming on Unity, and bought this:

I’m not sure if they’ll work, but they’re .fbx animations. I’ll try to adapt them to my models on Maya and use them. Will see if it works.

I’m not familiar with those, but if they’re FBX animations, they should work. The only possible hangup is that some of them (walks, runs, strafes) are likely to have root motion. Unity takes care of root motion on import, but UE4 takes care of it in AnimMontage, which means you can’t use animations with root motion in a Blendspace.

I posted a tutorial for removing root motion from an animation here:

I use Blender, not Maya, in the video, but the basic approach should be adaptable.

In most cases, the best way to keep skin from poking through clothes is to remove the parts of the body under the skin. IIRC, MakeHuman has the option to export vertex groups for mask modifier use to hide the parts under a piece of clothes. If you apply that modifier before exporting, it should get rid of the unnecessary vertices from your model. This will prevent poke through and get rid of unnecessary work for the GPU by reducing vertex count.

If you’re trying to make configurable outfits, then you’ve got a bit of a challenge. :-/ Even if skinned perfectly, you’re likely to get some poke through unless you give the clothing a lot of thickness.

Yep, I am using the carnegie mellon university data in bvhacker already… it seems to be just about the only way that works. Other things I’ve looked into:

  1. Mixamo Fuse - can create characters and animate, but their customisation is nowhere near as good as makehuman and you can only get 1 or 2 rigs per week which is nowhere near enough for experimenting with lots of different ideas. Also in the end I want to have in-game character customisation so this isn’t going to work.

  2. Epic’s Maya/ART workflow - I don’t have Maya, it’s expensive, I am already familiar with blender, and the makehuman -> maya pipeline isn’t as good as the makehuman -> blender pipeline anyway.

  3. Truebones - There’s a big library of mocap data offered by truebones, but from reading various forums and looking at the contents list etc, it looks like it’s more of a collection of motions from other places and the licensing isn’t clear enough for commercial uses in my opinion.

  4. Unity assets - Unity has some motions you can get from the asset store, including some free ones. However, they seem to come in a strange format, I can’t get the FBXs they provide to work in other tools. In any case, the licensing on the use of these in other engines is a bit of a grey area.

I have a walk, run and idle working in makehuman now. I’m more or less happy with them. Unfortunately, I can’t work out how to get the makewalk motion retargetting to load the motions into different channels, so I have 3 different rigged characters rather than one with all 3 animations. When I try to import them onto the same skeleton in UE4 it doesn’t work because UE4 seems to rename all the bones when it imports so they don’t match. The retargetting thing in UE4 doesn’t seem to work for this either.

Oh and it doesn’t help when the importer keeps doing things like this:

Have you tried to getarget in Blender ? Works pretty good for me. I have to say that i havent used the Makehuman Rig. I made my own with BlenderGuru. You can simply modify the Makehuman Rig in Blender to be able to animate a proper way… Activate the Mocap Tools in Blender and retarget by Hand. Gives you much more control over your Rig.

Some tips. Cut down the Animation in the bvhacker. A walkcycle should be around 30FPS (counts on you) to 25 . I removed anything so the Rig walks in one position and does not change its location.

When you now retarget, choose the essential things. NOT the shoulders e.g. (in my case this messes up my targeted rig) . After retargeting remove the unnecessary Frames so, that you have left about 8 Frames. The important Walk Poses like these

afterwards do the finetuning… If you do it this way you could be able to do a walk cycle in a couple of hours (2 maybe) .



i just tried something. You dont even have to edit the mocap data in Bvhacker. you can do in Blender. Works much better though :open_mouth: .Epic !

There you go. (if someone needs it) :

1st Pic:

BVHacker setup. Press the X Y Z Button on the right when you`re under “TRanslation Mode” .
Cut down the anim to about 30FPS . Button 1/2 sample…

2nd Pic:

The Mocap Setup. Put the bvh rig directly over your Rig (makes sure you can use your IK/FK Bones. otherwise you`ll have to deactivate the FK/IK)

3rd Pic:

play with the constraints from the “Retarget TemP” tab. Sometimes you have to adjust the settings, like setting from local to world space or something. When you`ve played enough hit “Retarget” in Blender and do the finetuning.


I think this thread really illustrates one of the major hangups we’re all commonly having… Both lack of good generic motions, and also the problems related to different skeletons from motions to models.

It’s honestly really annoying to me, because this type of bottleneck seems to happen in every indie game development production, regardless of engine etc., unless you have a full team of animators at your disposal.

We need a decent way to:

  • Get a good library of generic motions. The big university mocap data is a good start, but needs to be pared down and made to loop properly and such (I literally would do this myself and release it, but I’m a programmer, I can’t animate at all).

  • Work out a pipeline for getting any motion onto any character we want. Right now the best options are probably MotionBuilder, but actually retargeting stuff in there is a gigantic pain IMO.

As an aside, I’ve run into cases where I have literally the same skeleton in animations/models, but they are incompatible because they were somehow named slightly differently. That is just annoying and unnecessary.

Sorry for the rant, all, it’s just that this problem has been annoying and bugging me for years as it relates to indie dev of 3D games. I almost think a big portion the games that could be coming from indies die off due to animations and the associated headaches of getting the ones you need for gameplay.

@anonymous_user_871862b0 : Thanks for this! I’m already more or less using the same steps in BVHacker, but the manual retargeting using the mocap tools in Blender is new to me. I don’t really understand how it works but I will try to find some videos on youtube or something to explain it.

@n00854180t : Yes, I really think there must be loads of people out there like us that find this bit the bottleneck. For artists there are tools like UE4’s Blueprints, Unity’s PlayMaker and GameSalad to allow them to make games without needing to know how to program, yet for some reason no-one seems to have really made tools to allow programmers to make games without needing to be a great artist.
It’s certainly possible to make a tool that can automatically rig, weight and animate a model - Mixamo have done it after all. There’s also awesome stuff out there like the Black Desert character creation system: Black Desert #CB2 Character Creation - YouTube by the looks of it the number of combinations of characters there would be huge, and they all look incredibly lifelike. I would love to see something like that as a game engine tool one day. Sure, there will always be limitations in the same way there are limitations in what you can do with blueprints, but the productivity savings and smoothing of the learning curve is definitely worth it.

In the mean time though, a collection of open licensed .bvh and .blend files with the right “bits” already selected, cropped, centred and seamlessly looped would be a huge help wouldn’t it?
Maybe we could start a repo on github or something for that…

p.s. I also don’t understand why UE4 seems to rename all the bones when you import an fbx… if you import another fbx with the exact same rig it can’t seem to use the same skeleton due to difference in bone naming :frowning:

Maybe it’s just me but I’ve yet to find over the counter animations that I would consider as being game ready. Lots of motion capture stuff out there but most if not all need a fair amount of cleaning just to make something simple usable and takes a fair amount of work to get that video game snap. As a time saver goes it’s most time faster to just key frame for taste.

Personally though our group is holding off to see what the Epic marketplace will offer as far as nuts and bolts goes as to fair use and have the company charge card at the ready. :wink:

I have an idea that I’ve been considering for a long time, that might remedy this situation. We’d all still have to pay for the art - but it would cost FAR less. I’m going to ask around and see if there’s interest elsewhere as there is in this thread and contact the teams that would be needed and ask them what they think.

Sorry for the vagueness, but I don’t want to spoil it if I can get it set up, because it should be a great surprise. But I don’t know if it will work out.

I’m in the same boat. The animation side of things in game dev just makes me roll my eyes. The developer in me cant believe how convulted it all seems and how nothing seems to work together in a reusable system. Granted I am a noob with animation so maybe its just that, but I wish there was straightforward solution using blender that doesnt cost as much as mixamo for indies.

It’s not just you. Animation for games is super freaking convoluted and backwards IMO, and this isn’t a new experience for me either, nor have I only had to deal with it in a hobby capacity without a budget. It’s still not a good pipeline even with someone there that knows how to use it.

Heck, back when I first started looking into making 3D games, automatic skinning wasn’t even a thing. But the same dumb issues with skeletons and such abound, and retargeting has not really taken off as widely as it needs to be.

I also find the overall state of game animation, particularly that of the controlled character, to be pretty lacking, compared to other graphics advancements.

I’m sure you guys have seen it too - you’ll see a screenshot. GORGEOUS game! It looks absolutely amazing. You feel like you could practically step through a window into the world yourself.

Then you see it in motion, and the illusion dies because of the animations. Even well animated games are pretty lacking. I can spot pre-rendered scenes in literally less than a second by superior the animation quality and detail alone.

Of course, fixing these issues, and in particular making motion by a controlled character really fluid, are all difficult problems.

Have you used the github version of Blender’s FBX exporter? I use it and afterwards I convert the ASCII-FBX from Blender to a binary Vesion 2013 FBX with the free Autodesk FBX converter (don’t have the link right now, but it’s free). With that I didn’t have any problems.

I see you did remove the shoes, too :rolleyes: I couldn’t get them to behave in UE, either :stuck_out_tongue:

I thought about hiding part of the body mesh beneath shirt / trousers dynamically in UE4, but I couldn’t check yet whether that’s possible.

Indie Open Source Workflow
How about we…

  • Create a Wiki subsection dedicated to the MH/Blender workflow
  • Start collecting Mocaps that are free, but commercially usable too (e.g., with a license to modify and redistribute)
  • Community effort: retarget the mocaps
  • …?

Yep, I couldn’t have said it better (and didn’t) :slight_smile:

It just seems to me like the programmers of this world have made loads of effort to make things accessible to artists with lots of code conventions and standards, clear documentation and visual coding tools, but the computer graphics folks haven’t done the same for us… every tool works differently and has confusing UIs, different keyboard shortcuts, different terminology for the same things, different axis systems, different scales, and even though there are open standard formats no-one uses them and all use their own proprietary formats - and even when using FBX (the most common proprietary format) there are dozens of different versions and most software has its own broken implementation so nothing still exports or imports properly ever headdesk.

Sure, people can say “just learn it”, but then we programmers don’t say “just learn how to program” to those artists. We make them tools so they can do it without learning to code… and they make great games with those tools these days. So why can’t they do the same for us huh?

Exactly… all we really need is something just like mixamo that can be downloaded and used freely without restriction, and an open free-for-all library of motions. It’s not beyond the wit of man, it already exists even, it’s just not free and open.

I think we’ll probably be waiting a long time for that to come along - but makehuman already has a fairly good blender workflow which can rig and skin the meshes, all we really need is a nicely cleaned up, looped and retargetted animation library that works with the Makehuman IK rig in Blender. We could probably manage that as a community here… right? If everyone handcrafts 1 or 2 animations each we’ll have a library in no time.
The same with clothes… MakeHuman already has a selection of clothes, there just aren’t many to choose from. If each of us with this problem makes just 1 item of clothing and we put them all together in github, we’ll soon have loads to choose from.

I am using the Blender nightly build, I guess that is the same version as github. I have already seen that trick of using the ASCII mode export and converting with the autodesk converter… I find it does work to solve the broken mesh problems but then it loses all the textures and materials. Have you found a way around that?

The shoes I found out they aren’t skinned properly. I went on IRC on the makehuman channel and a guy there told me it’s a known bug in makehuman 1.0.1 and it should be fixed in the next release. I also tried the nightly build though and the result there was that the feet joined together completely! Hopefully they’ll fix it soon.

Yep, I guess we better start this ourselves! I will try to make somewhere to put it all.
I suggest what we should do though is not just gather all the mocap data from the universities etc. - everyone can already find that by themselves, but the hard bit is in finding suitable motions, cropping, cleaning, etc.
So how about we have the following main areas:

“Fixed mocaps” - BVH files which have been hand selected, cropped, edited, resampled to around 30fps, centred renamed etc. so that they can be useful in games.
“Game ready animations” - Animations which have been edited in blender (either keyframe animated by hand or fully fixed up mocap) so that they’re ready to use in game. Categorised into folders like “Walks”, “Runs”, “Idles”, “Jumps”, “Melee”, “Shooting” etc.
“Game ready characters” - Characters in .blend format that are already animated (hand made or makehuman).
“Makehuman clothing” - Clothes for makehuman
“Makehuman textures” - Textures for makehuman
“UE4 makehuman animations” - Animations in the UE4 animation format which are designed to work with the Makehuman IK rig. (not so sure we can do this, because UE4 renames all the bones when imported - does anyone know how to achieve this?)
“UE4 ready characters” - Ready animated characters in UE4 format
“UE4 character blueprints” - UE4 characters with blueprints to control them.

Does that cover everything?