Help me understand the "Default UE4 Skeleton" and rigging

Alright, I’ve gotten a bunch of mixed responses by a bunch of different animators and I don’t know what to think anymore.

My question is this: We will have a large number of mostly humanoid models. I’d like to be able to use the marketplace animation packs if needed, but most of our animations will be done custom.

I’ve had a bunch of people only want to use 3DSMax and a bunch of people who would create great rigs but don’t know the UE4 plugin.

It seems so easy and maybe this is why I don’t get it, why wouldn’t you import the default UE4 skeleton into our models and fit it, then any custom pieces we needed to do like faces/capes, just add those on. With this, the bulk of the rig is already done and we can retarget the marketplace anims?

I feel like these guys who only use 3DSMax or don’t plan on using the plugin are wasting time and money here because they’re going the entire rig from scratch, at least use the default UE4 skeleton so we can retarget marketplace anims and so you have a huge chunk already done? I’ve got some people quoting me 12 hours and one quoting me an hour, I don’t get it.

Or am I completely wrong here?

I think you’re correct to insist that your animators use the grey-guy mannequin skeleton, but it’s a more difficult question what software / control rigs they should actually be animating with. CAT or Biped seem to be the most common things for max, and I know a lot of marketplace animations are actually built with maya / motionbuilder’s HumanIK characterization. So certainly you have out of the box options beside the ART plugin that will drive the mannequin rig and with which most animators should be familiar.

If your contacts are mostly working in Max, maybe take a look at this?

If someone is willing to setup a really nice custom control rig for you, in any program, that still drives the underlying mannequin rig - you should be in business. Like any custom tool, you just have to question whether you or the original author will be able to service it should something stop working. :slight_smile:

The rig isn’t just the skeleton, that’s the “easy” part to add, then you have the skinning that’s rather “easy” too, and then you have the rigging.
The rigging are “Rules” that makes your skeleton move in different ways. So if you pull a controller “attached” to the foot you may want the whole leg to follow it etc.
The use of a “rig” is to speed up the animation creation time, so the animator doesn’t need to move or rotate every joint instead he can move a controller and move a whole chain of joints or something else. Example open and close a hand just by dragging a slider, planting a hand on a table, move the eyes and so on.
So it really doesn’t matter what kind of rig the “rigger” uses as long the animators are happy, the rig doesn’t exports over to unreal. The animator transfers (bakes) the movements from the controls to the joints on/before export.

Most important are the skeleton name convention, it will make your life much easier if all your characters have the same name on the bones/joints.
It doesn’t have to be the same as the Unreal mannequin skeleton but it makes life easier.
You do have the so you can use other animations on your skeleton.

If you have some one else doing it for you, as BobJoel said I would recommend that they used something like CAT/Biped, HumanIK (HIK) or some autorigging script, so the next guy that will work with em can get the hands on the tools used and make changes easy.
You should be able to add tails/capes on to any skeleton/rig if its done correct.
You don’t need to use the UE4 plugin (if its ART you talk about and ART is only for Maya )

Hope this helps some.

With “bunch of people” do you mean riggers or animators? It still buggles me how any rigger would pick 3ds max over maya… but then again, I dont know much 3ds max.
It looks like you are missing a proper pipeline (probably not the best word in this case) that you hire your people according to. Having someone quote 12 hrs and someone else 1 for the same task seems like youre hiring complete noobs along with experienced artists. Not sure how you managed to do that, but you should take actions as those indeed will cost you dearly down the road.

My suggestion: use the ART plugin for maya to get your rigs set up using the UE4 skeleton and have an easy mocap operability. That way youll save loads of time when using marketplace animation assets. Adding prop, costume and facial bones is no problem if you are using the same base skeleton asset on all your characters, every animation will work with its own set of extra bones. If you havent already, take a look at this short playlist from the Unreal Engine channel. It shows you the work with different types of skeletal assets, how to share information over different proportions and the benefits of using a single base skeleton: Skeleton Assets | v4.8 | Unreal Engine - YouTube - very useful, I learned a lot from those few short vids. Even if you arent the dedicated rigger/ue4 character dude, this is important stuff you as a project lead should know so you can tell your folks what to do and what not.

There is also a huge playlist on the ue4 channel that covers the ART plugin for maya, so there wont be any open questions if you have your guys check it out.

This was a huge help, I think I finally found someone that does everything you’re talking about, glad I learned all this! Thanks guys!