OT - Getting any BVH animation cleanly into Carrara

stringtheory9stringtheory9 Posts: 411
edited December 2015 in Carrara Discussion

I've uploaded a video outlining the process I use to convert any BVH animation into Carrara in a very clean and easy way. It requires the installation of the free DanceForms software (Mac & PC) for retargeting which can be downloaded here.

https://youtu.be/bGtSLpxgGGc

Download Gen4, Genesis and Genesis2 Figure Models.

 

 

 

 

Post edited by stringtheory9 on
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Comments

  • DUDUDUDU Posts: 1,866

    Thanks, I downloaded it a few time ago but never tried it.

    I'll check it tomorrow.smiley

  • mindsongmindsong Posts: 971
    A HUGE thank you for this - where's the 'beerpal' donate button?
  • You're welcome guys. Hope it helps! smiley

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,976

    OMG! So cool!

    I especially love the tips on cleaning up with an editable clip! I wish I'd have known about that one years ago! LOL

    I've never been a big fan of getting BVH files working properly. It just seemed to be easier for me to make my own animations from scratch, or to edit ones that were somewhat (or not) close to what I need.

    Just downloaded DanceForms and look forward to animating with it!

    Thank you SO MUCH!

  • bighbigh Posts: 7,639

    the easer way for me was to load them in DS and edit them using aniMate

    and bring them over as DUF files .
    I watch your video and you still had to edit some more in Carrara .

    guess its what works for that person .

  • stringtheory9stringtheory9 Posts: 411
    edited December 2015

    OMG! So cool!

    I especially love the tips on cleaning up with an editable clip! I wish I'd have known about that one years ago! LOL

    I've never been a big fan of getting BVH files working properly. It just seemed to be easier for me to make my own animations from scratch, or to edit ones that were somewhat (or not) close to what I need.

    Just downloaded DanceForms and look forward to animating with it!

    Thank you SO MUCH!

    Thanks Dartanbeck, yeah, additive NLA tracks are super useful for fine tuning (amongst other things). Another thing that DanceForms does that I know you'll appreciate is the special paste function that lets you paste and replace partial motions (left arm, right arm, arms, upper body, legs etc.) over an existing animation.

    I think the way you do it in Carrara give us a little more control though. :-)

    Talking about importing pz2 animations (Calling Fenric thread); I've not seen it mentioned anywhere but pz2 animations can be imported directly as an NLA clip using the "Pose as Clip" button under the General tab for the figure (Gen4 only). They come in as a little slither but can be easily lengthened with a simple click and drag. Another cool Carrara feature! 

    Post edited by stringtheory9 on
  • stringtheory9stringtheory9 Posts: 411
    edited December 2015
    bigh said:

    the easer way for me was to load them in DS and edit them using aniMate

    and bring them over as DUF files .
    I watch your video and you still had to edit some more in Carrara .

    guess its what works for that person .

    Hi bigh, yes, the aniMate route is a very good workflow too. 

    I find DanceForms to be a lot less work for me. The tweaking I did in Carrara for the arm going through the leg could very easily have been corrected once in the mapping editor (like in the Genesis2 example) and baked into the mapping and forgotten about after that. Daz characters tend to have short collar bones so this seems to be a common issue when retargeting from other BVH figures. I left the V4 t-pose as default mainly so I could demo the additive NLA clip usefulness. I think of the additive NLA tracks as point keyframing.

     As an example, let's say there is an animation of a figure reaching out for a glass, picking it up and then drinking from the glass. The size of the glass would dictate where the hand would have to stop near the mouth. I think it would be difficult to get that spot on even with a custom captured mocap. Using an additive NLA track, you would only need to add keyframes at two points. One keyframe (pose adjustment) to align the hand exactly on the glass sitting on the table and another to align the hand so that the edge of the glass (now parented to the hand) touches the characters lips. This would be a time consuming adjustment if done using only the every-frame-is-keyframed imported animation. Another Carrara gem! 

    Post edited by stringtheory9 on
  • th3Digitth3Digit Posts: 17,819

    One thing that works for me from iClone is to import the bvh on the hip and import a separate skeleton and add a track modifier to the figure's hip and have it track the imported skeletons hip.

    you can move your grouped imported bvh skeleton only figure to translate it and can also delete all bones but the hip on that one.

    This may work with other bvh files too

     

  • One thing that works for me from iClone is to import the bvh on the hip and import a separate skeleton and add a track modifier to the figure's hip and have it track the imported skeletons hip.

    you can move your grouped imported bvh skeleton only figure to translate it and can also delete all bones but the hip on that one.

    This may work with other bvh files too

     

    Clever idea JaguarElla

  • Stringtheory, thanks for the links and drawing attention to this application.  I have created a scene and V4/M4 characters and I am about to get into the animation phase..so this info is very timely.  I have always manually keyframed...But this looks very interesting. I have downloaded Dance Forms 2 and I am slowly working my way through the U-tube tutorial... You provide a link to load the Genisis skeleton  but where can you download the  V4/ M4 skeleton ?

    Thanks,

    Starboardtack 

  • You're welcome msteaka! The link is to a zip that contains the models for M4/V4, Genesis and Genesis2. If you're just starting out then you may not have too many BVH files yet. Take a look at Mixamo, Animstreet. These are commercial sites with over to 10000 professional BVH animations and both have just recently made everything free! Then also very highly recommended are the following (also) free sources: CMU, The Trailers Park and DanceForms itself comes with a bunch. 

  • mindsongmindsong Posts: 971
    question: is there a 'universal' or standard reference bvh skeleton for bipeds (esp humans) that would be a preferred when normalizing a mocap collection? Appreciating the endless list of character rigs, has any settled on (or against) a particular favorite jack-of-all rigs, good-at-none, or is this a holy grail of sorts? I could see the iclone 'non-standard-human', v4/m4, the mixamo skeleton, or perhaps biovision has a baseline, etc. Any thoughts or opinions? tia, ms
  • mindsongmindsong Posts: 971
    fwiw, *all* of mixamo's mocaps are available for free for an unknown period (about 2 months so far, since Adobe bought them). go to mixamo.com, get an Adobe ID if you don't have one. add a character to your assets from their list (e.g. xbot) or upload and 'autorig' your own character (...), then add lots of animations to your 'assets', then queue and download them. to get their full suite might take 16000+ clicks(not kidding), but you can get 2400 mocaps in bvh and/or fbx format (which to use?). There's another thread on the Daz forums that indicates that you'll be able use these forever, and have long-term access to these assets from your account as if you purchased them, even when Adobe figures out how to integrate Mixamo into their fold. Get 'm while they're hot, And... a bird in the hand... lastly, these bvh files are targeted to the mixamo rigs, which is where the thread-related Dance-Forms SW comes in to allow remapping to our local favorite rigs, and in bulk. (stringtheory, you rock). I would bet that iclone 3dxchange can do this too, but dance forms is free and does bulk conversions. cheers, ms
  • Stringtheory9,

    I have followed the tutorial so far..However I do not get the same skeleton as shown in the Video tutorial. I have the V4  all right but the apposing skeleton is more like a fleshed out figure - which is odd  as I seem to remember, but maybe not, that it  was a simpler skeleton when I first started to play with Dance Forms - such as is shown in the tutorial video. Also some of the bones do not match the V4. I have adjusted for  T pose and have matched the bones as best I can..then exported it as per instructions..However the key frames are not pasted in Carrara. I suspect the problem is this (non) skeleton in Dance Forms 2... I have looked around for a simpler skeleton in Dance Forms..but it is not in any obvious place.  I have also gone to the Help/User Guide, but so far have found no switch..  Puzzeled.....

     

    Starboardtack

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  • stringtheory9stringtheory9 Posts: 411
    edited December 2015
    msteaka said:

    Stringtheory9,

    I have followed the tutorial so far..However I do not get the same skeleton as shown in the Video tutorial. I have the V4  all right but the apposing skeleton is more like a fleshed out figure - which is odd  as I seem to remember, but maybe not, that it  was a simpler skeleton when I first started to play with Dance Forms - such as is shown in the tutorial video. Also some of the bones do not match the V4. I have adjusted for  T pose and have matched the bones as best I can..then exported it as per instructions..However the key frames are not pasted in Carrara. I suspect the problem is this (non) skeleton in Dance Forms 2... I have looked around for a simpler skeleton in Dance Forms..but it is not in any obvious place.  I have also gone to the Help/User Guide, but so far have found no switch..  Puzzeled.....

    Starboardtack

    msteaka,  

    The figure you are pasting is one of the animations that comes with the software which allows it to be saved in a format that allows you to pick different skeleton display styles (this is found under the Figure menu under Drawing Style).  With an actual BVH file you will always get a standard skeleton. But this will not impact the retargeting of the animation. 

    Unless you are loading a BVH file that was created for the figure you are mapping to, the bones will almost always be different. The mapping process is our best guess at matching the bones on the destination figure with the bones on the source figure. Sometimes you have to skip a bone in the spine here and there. 

    In the example you are using, the t-pose of the source figure has its arms down. In this case you will need to get your V4 skeleton to match that t-pose as closly as possible (like in the Genesis2 example in the video). After you have set your V4 t-pose to match you can click the radio button on the bottom left (Test) to make sure everything is in the right place. When you import into Carrara make sure you have the hip bone selected or it won't bring in the keyframes. 

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    Post edited by stringtheory9 on
  • mindsong said:
    question: is there a 'universal' or standard reference bvh skeleton for bipeds (esp humans) that would be a preferred when normalizing a mocap collection? Appreciating the endless list of character rigs, has any settled on (or against) a particular favorite jack-of-all rigs, good-at-none, or is this a holy grail of sorts? I could see the iclone 'non-standard-human', v4/m4, the mixamo skeleton, or perhaps biovision has a baseline, etc. Any thoughts or opinions? tia, ms

    I'm not sure that there is a "universal" skeleton. Every application seems to have its own unique rigging (or a few). This might be for intellectual property reasons… or not. Most 3D animation apps have built in retargeting so I would imagine that it’s not usually a big deal that there’s no standard.

  • Stringtheory9

    Nothing less than amazing.  I have it working.  A lot of trouble importing into Carrara...Not sure what I was doing wrong..but for no reason I could decern..Carrara started to place the keyframes - and old V4 is strutting along...Amazing and fun.

    There are problems with the feet, which I suspect maybe due to the fact that the  matching window in Dance Forms is not very detailed and it is hard to see where the toes are.  Either way,  I am adjusting these manually in Carrara and it is not bad at all.. A lot less work than making my own walk cycle as I have in the past.  

    The fun will be going on a treasure hunt to see what BVH files are out there...  This is great..Thanks Stringtheeory..

     

    Starboardtack

  • Can the V4 skeleton be used for M4 ?..  Or do you have to somehow bring one in from Carara ?

    Thanks,

    Starboardtack

  • msteaka,

    Glad to hear you got it all going. In the mapping editor you can zoom in to the bones you are focusing on. You can also freely rotate or use the preset views in the 3 smaller boxes above the main figure box. This lets you get a very detailed look at any of the bone joints. 

    You can use the same skeleton for V4 and M4. I do. The V4 mapping skeleton I use has the foot pose in the mapping editor modified so that the feet convert flat. I then use an NLA additive clip if I want my V4 to be wearing heels (which is seldom).

    You can export a BVH skeleton for M4 if you prefer. This can be done with Daz studio if you don't have Fenrics plugin. 

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  • 0oseven0oseven Posts: 559

    Dont forget good old bvh hacker - you can do basic editing of animation,retiming,romove bones  etc

    I downloaded Danceforms 6 months ago never found time to try but reading all the above I must give it a go.

    Thanks for the heads up and also the info about the free mixamo/animstreet mocaps.

    Animation is fun - ain't it ? crying  

  • Thanks Stringtheory,

    I saw those controls on the side but it did not register..Now that I look at them the icons make sense..Duh !  I was able to zoom in and make the corrections...much better results. I have a very good walk sequence I am checking for foot slide now..but it looks good scrubbing . Now that I can use the V4 skeleton for the M4 skeleton .. I think I am clear for take off - get that cow off the runway.

    I hope some others are getting benefit from your post.....

     

    Msteaka

     

  • I have been playing with the walk designer in Dance Forms 2...... when I can spare the time. I was wondering if anybody else had looked it over.   The Walk Designer seems fairly decent with absolutly no foot slide when brought into Carrara that I can see.  I have pluged in the V4 and it matches really well.  The swing through seems a little quick at slow walk speeds but I am wondering if someone more skilled than I might be able to manipulate this.  I don't know why but there is so very little material on pacing..that is walking back in forward, say in thought, with your hands behind your back.  Just a real slow walk.

     

    Msteaka

     

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,976

    I usually just delete all of the keyframes for the arms from collar to the tips of the fingers, and pose them how they need to be. This works for soldiers carrying rifles so I'm sure it would help you to get a good 'pacing' animation. Then you can go in and key in some subtle movements to the arms and hands for realism, if you like.

    I still haven't had time to play with this yet :(

    I opened it once and couldn't figure out how to get the BVH file into the interface so I'll have to watch the tutorial again. I'm so used to using aniBlock Importer that my current renders are being done using those. I have a decent collection of them which allows me to mix and match nicely. But using BVH will open up a whole new realm of LOTS! LOL

  • PhilemoPhilemo Posts: 923

    You can also create a NLA track that override bones from collar to finger, just as Dart says. It allows you to have an independant motion for those bones, without deleting anything from the original animation.

  • Update, I gave up on the walk designer for now ..could not get a natural flow to the walk. However using the Dance Desin 2  (mocap) walk samples work really well. I have two very good walk samples of V4 in the Carrara timeline. You have to fine tune the feet so as to keep them steady on the ground..but when finished there is no foot sliding at all.

    I have probably been rediscovering the wheel with my method..But this is what I have been doing. I use Dance Design 2 to bring in the V4 bvh file.  I use a primitive cube to make a walk way for the V4. I duplicate the walk way and use this as the ground plain (A). I parent the V4 to the first walk way( call it B) and make it invisable.  I am then able to turn V4 using B so that the figure is in alignment to the y axis. The figure now walks across the screen in the left view camera. I next bring A the ground in alignment with B and adjust B so V4 is standing on the ground. If you scrub the time line you can see that the feet do not stay solidly on the ground but shift  around erratically.  This can be corrected by moving B (V4 ) up down or left right. At the beginning of each step where the heel first touches the ground, I place a little piece of tape on the screen and go through from frame to frame adjusting the heel to this piece of tape.  When completed I switch to the front view and adjust the feet using the same method with a piece of tape.  I know it sounds crude but I have been able to get a descent walk cycle with no foot slide. I realize that there must  be a better way but with my basic understaanding of Carrara I have not been able to think of one.

    At present I am working on M4 using the V4 bones. It requires even more adustments..but as you can see be the image it seems to be working. Once I ahave the walk samples..

    Dartenbeck, thanks for jumping in..I have not used ani-blocks yet..I would like to convert these walk samples into them next. Back to Phil's tapes. So much to learn and remember.  I  have deleted the keyframes for the arms, etc. just retained those for the legs - 

    Philemo, I have also not used NLA's yet also....I am still working on a basic..level.

     

    Thanks guys ..

    Msteaka ........ps.. Teaka was the name of my dog.ergo.. msteaka.

     

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  • th3Digitth3Digit Posts: 17,819

    I thought was Mr Steak my Mistakedevil

  • I love word play.....Nice going J aguarella.  I gave up on Starboardtack... It was liberating. Teaka was the color of Teak wood..ergo..Teaka.  Groan..back to work.

  • th3Digitth3Digit Posts: 17,819

    it gets worse

    click to play

     

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 13,976

    Too Awesome Wendy! Love it!

    Is that RAW Art's Severed man? I love how his body just falls from his limbs like that! So Cool!

    msteaka, I was talking about aniBlocks that I bought from GoFigure. I've never tried going BVH to aniBlock then to Carrara.

  • Wendy,

    Thats quite a long animation - I like how the dresses flow dynamically. I get the misSteaka reference..I've nothing to top that.... Er,,, Does anyone feel like a Tums ?

    Dart, I went to the  Go Figure site...I had no idea that you could get aniblocks ready made for M4/V4 figures. Yikes, what else am I missing. Here I am going half blind making my own.  It is too bad that you have to buy all the aniblocks so as  to use them in Carrara.  I would be interested mainly in the walking aniblocks.  I may wait till they go on sale. Thanks for letting me know about them

    Msteaka aka Starboardtack

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