Best method for exporting custom character animations from Maya LT (2016)?

Hello everyone, I am new here (first post) - so apologies if this belongs in the AnswerHub rather then the forum. My background is 3 weeks learning Unreal, and I am on my third day trial with Maya LT 2016. I’d previously started looking at Blender, but other then that no real experience.

After spending a couple of days trying to figure out how to successfully export characters and animations from Maya LT, I finally achieved a way to accomplish the goal. Below is the method I used.

I am looking for some feedback on different approaches or a better way to do it. I feel like I found a way to get it to work, without really understanding why or how I got it working (other then trial and error).

Other questions:
-I get the warning: Complex animation baked. when exporting. Any ideas what this could be?
-Any links to good reference material you’ve found for best practices on importing assets/animations into Unreal Engine?

Maya LT 2016
Unreal Engine 4.10
Steps to create, rig, animate, and export Custom Animations
Character Creation Method

  1. Create Character in Character Controls
  2. Setup Skeleton
  3. Drag skeleton to custom model and align
  4. In objects list, highlight both and use the skin tool to bind skin
  5. Select the character to export, export the selection to unreal
  6. Save File – a copy of this file will be made for each animation sequence
  7. When ready to make animation, make a copy of the original file, rename to desire animation sequence name
  8. In character controls, open up the control rig for the character (it will make a new character reference)
  9. Create animation
  10. Export character to unreal (delete duplicate physical asset and skeleton mesh, keep animation)

Did you export the entire character with controls, constraints and referenced nodes?
Thats not how its supposed to work. I guess thats what the complex animation bake stands for: indirect bone animations through iks, constraints and direct connections from other nodes.
You should bake your animation down to the base skeleton and export only that skeleton with animation keys on it… nothing else.
Did you successfully import any of this into the engine already? If yes im quite curious as to what exactly you exported/imported, could you make screenshots of the individual exported content from your maya outliner?

The other thing you export is the character itself with its skin bound to that skeleton as a different file.

Also remember to check .fbx export parameters as UE still doesnt fully support the 2016 signature. You should export with version fbx 2014/2015.


Screenshot attached!

the joint is under character1_Reference ? take it out of there, and have it be in world, if you havent any, add a root joint at the 0,0,0 origin and have that be the top group. Then select both the mesh AND the joint and export selection.

If you only want to import animations to unreal you would only need to select the root bone when exporting your selection, the option for importing mesh / physics assets shouldn’t even appear in this case. I like to keep the mesh fbx separate from the animation fbx so nothing gets overwritten accidentally. If you’re using humanIK be sure to select every one of your IK controls as well as the FK bones before running Edit -> Keys -> Bake Simulation (or whatever LT might be calling it). I’ve found I need to run Edit -> Select Hierarchy on my selections to really capture everything in the bake.

I don’t know if this has changed in more recent versions of maya, but on 2013/2014 HumanIK will go bonkers if you use the default quaternion rotation interpolation. I have to set that to Independent Euler in settings/preferences to be able to edit HIK curves in the graph editor and edit keys. Has this changed? :smiley:

Whether or not you keep all your animation sequences in one file should be up to you. If you can use mel, there’s a command to bake timeline frames into FBX “takes” and UE4 will import these as separate sequences from one file, same as with motionbuilder. FBXExportSplitAnimationIntoTakes command:,topicNumber=d30e146083

FWIW, I always check on “Resample All” in Bake Animation options at export and use “Set as Euler Interpolation” under extra options. This may be because I’m using Euler interpolation natively - I get very stiff / linear motion without those two settings.

bump. i’m trying to export serperate animations and make sure i’m doing things right also

Bump. For those who need help. I make the animation in maya and export using unreal exporter. then after selecting the mesh i want to animate by selectign the skeleton. Im warned about bones and something weird. IF you Say NO IT WILL CRASH BEWARE!!! but press yes and retarget the bones and it’ll be saved not Perfect buy great for me… and works the same good luck!!!