Dog Handler and Dog: Synch Movement Animation

Hi I am brainstorming a dog handler and dog character(s). I am shooting for really smooth and synched animation between the dog and handler.

I see tutorials online about companions but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I want the dog to be almost “part” of the handler who will steer the dog and transfer movement input.

Is it possible to rig a human and dog together in one skeleton so they have perfectly synched animation?

If not what alternative can I look into?

Yes, you can build a skeleton that contains multiple parts. They’d end up being rooted at some base position (probably handler’s center of mass projected to ground.) But there’s nothing saying a skeleton needs to be contiguous, nor that the mesh needs to be fully connected.

Build a human and a dog in Maya or whatever, anchor both of them to a shared topmost root, and animate them the way you want them. You will have to export and import them in that configuration, too, which makes things like re-targeting much harder, but not impossible. You’ll also probably want the dog and the handler to each be separate skinned meshes, so you’d use “set master component” to the main, everything-included skeleton.

Thank you for your response!

Would root motion animation be anyway affected by this unusual skeleton hierarchy?

Im also thinking about just having separate skeletons and blueprints and just passing off movement input from the handler blueprints to dog blueprints. I would think there would be some delay there though.

Depends on how you handle the input.

In reality. No. There probably wouldn’t be any delay.

To do it properly the dog root bone would be animated inside the trainer, and the trainer would then manage everything.

The dog skeleton will just be told what local animations to play but it will also be linked to the root bone of the trainer.

In non optimal situations an interface call takes maybe between .0001 and .01 seconds to fire.
Usually unless the delay accumulates overtime somehow (repeated key presses) you’ll never really see anything go out of sync…
and there’s ways you can force a reset, like starting over the main character animation sequence at the same time the interface call is called.

Overall, you are way better off with separate skeletons/meshes when it comes to development and future proofing.

And stitching them together if you have the chops of animating them manually, since you’d have to jump through hoops to get motion from A to B.

Ps: I think I will try to put a rokoko suit on my dog at some point, but even if I do (and I leash him to a treadmill for science), I seriously doubt the quality would be as good as that of humans, So… wondering what you plan to do on the dog front…