simple blender to Carrara animation export

jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
edited April 1 in Carrara Discussion

I'm looking for a way to export a simple animation to Cararra. Not looking to export complex models or shaders. All I need is the camera path. Everything else I would take care of in Cararra.

I could have sworn I just did this, but can't get it to work again. Working from Blender's default file, I moved the camera. Then exported as a Collada file. Opened that file into Cararra and the camera moved as it did in Blender. (Interesting that the cube did not import, but the camera and light did). However, I can't repeat that. 

Now, any Collada export I create will only import a static camera. The cube does not import. DAZ3D will import the camera, light and cube from the Collada file, but the animation is lost. I'm beginning to think I was imagining the first export working. Re-importing the Collada file into Blender has light, cube and animated camera.

Is it possible to export an animated camera from Blender into Cararra?

 

 

 

Post edited by jrm21 on

Comments

  • OnlyLuvsCatzOnlyLuvsCatz Posts: 22,360
    edited April 1

    you may have unticked something (or not ticked) also try FBX export

    also are options for selection and everything

    Post edited by OnlyLuvsCatz on
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    you may have unticked something (or not ticked) also try FBX export

    also are options for selection and everything

    I have tried FBX, but that results in a "null pointer error." File doesn't load at all. Searching around, I had the impression that FBX imports to Cararra were problematic.

    An OBJ export will include camera, light, and cube. However, that format does not seem to include any animation data for camera or objects. It appears that Collada is the only format that both applications support which might include animation data.

    I have been playing with the various checkboxes in Blender without success. I'm thinking there is something on the Cararra side that I can change to make it work. The file will import into D3D and show the cube (cube doesn't appear in Cararra). It will also load an show all animation data if imported back into Blender. My system icon also has a "play" button which seems to show there is some sort of movement in the file.

     

     

  • OnlyLuvsCatzOnlyLuvsCatz Posts: 22,360

    yeah you need Carrara 8.5 not 8.1 Windows

    Mac they omitted the FBX importer files you need to ask for them from DAZ CS

  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    yeah you need Carrara 8.5 not 8.1 Windows

    Mac they omitted the FBX importer files you need to ask for them from DAZ CS

    Thanks, I'll reach out to CS for the FBX files. Hopefully, that will solve the problem.

  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    Follow up... DAZ responded quickly and I now have the FBX import DLL. Thanks, Wendy, for letting me know about that. I can now import FBX files on my Mac Cararra.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't help.

    I again set up a Blender "default" scene with the one camera, cube and light. I animated both camera and cube with some simple motion. Importing to Carrara, I can only get the cube to import (with animation keyframes). I did not test to see if the keyframes were accurate.

    The camera from the Blender FBX does not import properly. It shows in Cararra as an object (not a camera), and that object doesn't seem to be selectable. (No visible object in the 3d view).

    I'm thinking of a possible work-around that would link an object to the camera in Blender. Then I would export/import that object and copy the keyframes to a Cararra camera. Not sure if this will work as expected. When I have more time, I will test it out.

     

    Does anyone have experience importing DAE or FBX scenes to Cararra? (via Blender or another software). Do Collada files not normally transfer camera and/or animation data? Do FBX files not normally include camera data? I don't if this is all expected behavior or a problem with the Blender export or Cararra import process.

  • TangoAlphaTangoAlpha Posts: 4,456

    Carrara doesn't handle FBX formats more recent than 2015 / 7.1, so when exporting from blender, you need to select one of the earlier formats (I think it defaults to 7.4). I do know that if I export a later format from Modo, Carrara doesn't read it.

  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    Carrara doesn't handle FBX formats more recent than 2015 / 7.1, so when exporting from blender, you need to select one of the earlier formats (I think it defaults to 7.4). I do know that if I export a later format from Modo, Carrara doesn't read it.

    Thanks for the suggestion. You got my hopes up for a moment.

    Blender has two options for FBX export: 7.4 binary (it is the default) and 6.1 ASCII. I just tried the 6.1 binary option. Unfortunatley, that yields the same result as the 7.4 FBX export. Cube imports and keeps animation (via one keyframe on every frame). Neither camera or lights import properly. 

    Looks like I have two options. One is to bring my Cararra files into Blender and render there. This would involve a bit of work to clean things up. The other option is to try an have a simple object in Blender mimic the camera movements. I could then import that object into Cararra and have a camera track it. I'm thinking the latter option might be easier. My only goal here is to use Blender's motion tracking on live action that I bring into a 3D environment 

  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    A follow-up to my own post - just in case anyone else ever wanted to do the same thing. 

    There doesn't seem to be a way to import a Blender camera track to Cararra. I have tried several file formats and ideas. Cameras and lights just don't seem to transfer through file formats. Animation data is also tricky to transfers between software. I thought linking an object to a camera in Blender might work since the object will transfer. That idea also fell flat. The object will come across, but no matter what I do, the animation data is either not good or not there at all.

    I'll keep looking for workarounds, but for now it looks like I am tied to blender for anything that involves a camera motion track.

     

  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,486
    edited April 9
    Import and export of animations for the following parameters are supported: Light Camera Material effects -------- From Blender 2.79 manual: https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/latest/pipeline/collada.html
    Post edited by 3drendero on
  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,486
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10
    3drendero said:
    Import and export of animations for the following parameters are supported: Light Camera Material effects -------- From Blender 2.79 manual: https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/latest/pipeline/collada.html

    Yeah... I've read that page a hundred times. :) Unfortunately, the parameters may be supported, but they don't actually work. I take the default scene and make a simple animation of the cube and camera. Export as Collada.

     

    If I import that same Collada file back into Blender, the animation is gone. I've tried various setting and "baking" of action without any success. Importing that Collada file to Carrara yields worse results. The file does open, but it is empty. No cube, no camera, no light.

     

    The other links (thank you) point to an FBX solution. FBX does provide better results but still doesn't work. The animated cube will come in to Carrara and seems to move properly. The camera, however, is problematic. A camera object appears in the Instances list. Its size is completely messed up (a negative 10+ digit number. It appears as a dot on the screen. Resizing doesn't help.

     

    It does, however, seem to be animated. I'm now thinking it may be possible to create a Carrara camera that tracks the phantom camera. I'm going to play around with this a little more to see if I can come up with a working solution.

    Post edited by jrm21 on
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10

    Back again after trying some tests. FBX seems to be the closest solution. I have been able to get things to work a little better, but the results are inconsistent.

    I created a simple scene in blender. Two "text" objects and a sphere on a plane. These objects move and scale across 120 frames to provide a visual reference. One simple light. The camera moves horizontal left for frames 1-60 and then adds additional movement and rotation for frames 61-120.  I also added a cone that tracked to the camera via a parent/child relationship.

    I exported four versions. 

    FBX 6.1 - imported to Carrara with incorrect camera movements. Objects seemed to move and scale correctly..

    FBX 7.4 - imported to Carrara with wrong camera movements. Objects did not move or scale. Camera/cone did not move. Ground plane was rotated 90 degrees and moved to camera position. Ground plane picked up camera's animation keyframes.

    FBX 6.1 with baked blender animation: imported to Carrara with incorrect camera movements. Objects seemed to move and scale correctly.


    FBX 7.4 with baked blender animation: This worked the best of all, but still not good enough. 

    Again, the ground plane was rotated and moved to the camera position. It took the animation data from the blender camera. Blender camera/cone had no animation data. Since none of the options transfers a usable camera, I created a Carrara camera, manually positioned it and created a parent/child relationship with the ground plane.

    I have included two small test renders. One is the original blender, the other from Carrara. As you can see, the camera track is close, but nowhere near close enough for motion tracking.

    I'll probably keep trying, but there is probably too much difference between the way Blender exports and Carrara imports for this to work.

    Blender Version

     

    Blender Movie

    Carrara version

    Carrara Movie

     

     


     

     

     

     

    Post edited by jrm21 on
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 14,689

    I wonder if a more efficient workflow might present itself using something like HitFilm or Fusion to do the motion tracking, then use either of them to create a backplate (Backdrop in Carrara) that will contain the 'result' of the camera's motion 'baked' into the backplate? Just an idea.

    When I (if ever?) get my new computer, I'll be demonstrating how powerful and efficient such a workflow can be on my upcoming website, which will be dedicated to techniques toward making CG movies using Carrara, as I finally present the labors of my work over the years. It's been a long time coming!

  • OnlyLuvsCatzOnlyLuvsCatz Posts: 22,360

    There is of course the precise nerdy option 

    of

    noting parameters in exact measurements along the timeline down to lens type, focal length, yaw, hither, yon whatever and replicating those values precisely in both softwares.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 14,689

    There is of course the precise nerdy option 

    of

    noting parameters in exact measurements along the timeline down to lens type, focal length, yaw, hither, yon whatever and replicating those values precisely in both softwares.

    ...and then there's that! yes

  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    I wonder if a more efficient workflow might present itself using something like HitFilm or Fusion to do the motion tracking, then use either of them to create a backplate (Backdrop in Carrara) that will contain the 'result' of the camera's motion 'baked' into the backplate? Just an idea.

    I just took a look at HitFilmand Fusion. Not sure how they could help me accomplish what I am trying to do.  (FYI, I use Apple Motion and FCPX, but they can't do what I need. I also have (but don't use) After Effects - that also has motion tracking, but I don't belive it can do what I need).

    My goal is to take some live action green screen and place that in a virual environment. I want to create and render the virtual environment in Carrara. I have a feeling I am trying to do something atypical. Seems most people want to add a 3d ball to a live action background. I am trying to add a live action ball into a 3d room.

    That means I would have to capture the live camera track and bring it into Carrara. Motion and After Effects both have camera motion tracking ability, but no way I can see to export that track to a format Carrara can work with.​ 

    Blender has a pretty good motion tracker built in. It is also able to export to common 3d file formats. That's why I started there.

    I believe that "Synth Eyes" could handle tracking and work well with Carrara. I avoided that solution because I really don't want to invest more money and learning into expensive software at this time. While not my preferred method, Blender could give me what I want without having to make another purchase. But that means I have to learn to do in Blender what I can already do in Carrara, bring my models over from Carrara, fix the shaders, etc.  At my minimal skill level, I could create and render what I need in Carrara easier and MUCH quicker than in Blender.

    Between AE, Motion, FCPx, and Blender (3 of the four which have camera trackers built in), I thought I might have enough software to accomplish the task. I have three applications that can give me a good camera track. What I don't have is a way to bring any of those tracks into Carrara.

    Your backplate idea sounds interesting though I'm not sure it will give me what I need. Correct me if I misunderstand, but without the Carrara camera matching the live camera movements, any objects in the Carrara scene would not maintain position relative to the scene. Your idea, however, does work when the live camera is static where the background provides a reference point for 3d object position. 

     

  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137

    There is of course the precise nerdy option 

    of

    noting parameters in exact measurements along the timeline down to lens type, focal length, yaw, hither, yon whatever and replicating those values precisely in both softwares.

    Nerdy option is a really nice way of putting it. I would call it the masochistic option. :)  

    Just 1 second @ 24fps = 24 frames. x 3 values (x/y/z position) + (x/y/z rotation) = 144 data values per second. It can be done, but most people would lose their mind in the process. Mine's already mostly gone and I'm desparately trying to keep what little remains. :) 

    144 Shades of Grey?

  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,486
    Googling and youtubing some more, it does look like rocket science to do a proper camera export from Blender to any other 3D app. Some sites recommend the free FBX converter to "clean up" the fbx files. https://www.autodesk.com/developer-network/platform-technologies/fbx-converter-archives
  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,486
    Thanks for the extensive testing btw.
  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,486
    Here is an export tip from Poser, the most similar 3D to Carrara: ‐---------------- I know I saw someone asking this somewhere, but now can't find the post! (It was made about 5 months ago). If you've ever struggled to properly import an FBX from Blender to Poser, this guide should help, even just a little. To start, my model was created with Make Human - exported from Make Human as .mhx2, and imported into Blender as such. That's why mine comes in on such a huge scale, and here's the kicker - I am pretty sure scale is the reason meshes won't show up Either way, from your model in Blender to Poser, be sure to export (with Blender 2.7.6) FBX as such: (Which again, works for me because my model is gigantic, but Blender and Poser also play weirdly with each other, so give it a shot) Version: FBX 7.4 binary Uncheck 'selected objects' Scale: 0.10 <--- VERY important! Any other number either made the mesh invisible, or turned my figure into a big pile of twitchy goo. Check 'Apply Unit' Forward: -Z Forward Up: Y Up Check '!EXPERIMENTAL!' I exported just the Arma, Mesh, and Other, but I am sure you could export the empties, camera, and lamps as well. Not so sure if they'd show up. Check 'Apply Modifiers' Everything below this point you can leave as default. Now, when you import into Poser, keep your Geometry at 100, and let it fly! Let me know if this works for you all! --------
  • OnlyLuvsCatzOnlyLuvsCatz Posts: 22,360
    edited April 10

    Is your camera following some complex snakey path?

    Maybe then exporting a path in some form would help?

    Carrara path animations export as key frames BTW to iClone at least likewise their paths back, that is actually how I matched camera movements between the two

    Post edited by OnlyLuvsCatz on
  • BrianP21361BrianP21361 Posts: 588
    edited April 10
    My goal is to take some live action green screen and place that in a virual environment. I want to create and render the virtual environment in Carrara. I have a feeling I am trying to do something atypical. Seems most people want to add a 3d ball to a live action background. I am trying to add a live action ball into a 3d room.

    You mean something like "Modern Times" 

    http://carraracafe.com/category/projects/page/4/

    Post edited by BrianP21361 on
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10

    Autodesk FBX converter: Thanks for that link. I have just tried it on the FBX out of blender with no change in results.  It may come in handy for other things.

    Poser export tip: about the only difference in those settings seems to be the "scale" value. Blender's default is "1." I tried the .1 value and it made no difference. Same results as shown above.

    It doesn't look like this idea is going to happen. To stay in Carrara, I will probably plan static tripod camera shots for this project. If the camera must move or is handheld, I will have to work in Blender. 

     

    Thanks again for all the ideas.

    Post edited by jrm21 on
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 14,689
    edited April 10

    Sorry I misunderstood. You never actually described why you wanted to do this, but I had a feeling that's what it was about.

    Back when I was first getting into this stuff (and this forum) pscamm did succesfully use SynthEyes, but I don't think it was just a simple plug-n'-play type of thing. His short experiment clip is in the Carrara 8 Demo Reel (1:08)

    pscamm's SynthEyes demos:

    Post edited by Dartanbeck on
  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,486
    Can you post the blend file for further experimenting?
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10

    The .blend file is attached. (Not sure if it will work - "Attach a file" doesn't accept the filetype so I also included a link to the file) This is the original file _prior_ to baking the animation for export. This provides the most latitude for testing settings. I'd be very interested to see if anyone can make this work any better. It would NOT surprise me if I missed some obvious setting that makes everything work like magic.

     http://familymedia.com/pics/testfile2.blend

     

    Post edited by jrm21 on
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10

    Sorry I misunderstood. You never actually described why you wanted to do this, but I had a feeling that's what it was about.

    I should have provided more detail in my original post. Never thought it was going to more than a simple thing. 

    Back when I was first getting into this stuff (and this forum) pscamm did succesfully use SynthEyes, but I don't think it was just a simple plug-n'-play type of thing. His short experiment clip is in the Carrara 8 Demo Reel (1:08)

    pscamm's SynthEyes demos:

     

    That's funny... I clearly remember the "easter island head" video from way back when (and pleasantly surprised that many of the same forum contributors have been around that long). It's what I was thinking of when I mentioned SynthEyes in my previous post. I took a quick look at SynthEyes website. It is a powerful piece of software but comes with a learning curve. As mentioned, I wanted to try and work with what I already have and more or less know how to use. I'm not even sure if the current version would work as I expect with Carrara... that SynthEyes video is pretty old.

    Post edited by jrm21 on
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10

    Is your camera following some complex snakey path?

    Maybe then exporting a path in some form would help?

    For my test, the camera follows a simple path. It starts out moving  on just one axis (even that doesn't import properly) and then moves on all three axis with rotation included. 

    My end goal is to match move a live camera (likley handheld). That will definitely not work as any kind of path. Too many small random movements.

    Carrara path animations export as key frames BTW to iClone at least likewise their paths back, that is actually how I matched camera movements between the two

    Baking in Blender creates keyframes. The keyframes DO import into Carrara. It's just that they are not accurate. See the two videos I posted earlier. That's the result of blender's keyframes when imported in to Carrara. That much difference will definitely not work on a camera motion match.

    Post edited by jrm21 on
  • jrm21jrm21 Posts: 137
    edited April 10
    My goal is to take some live action green screen and place that in a virual environment. I want to create and render the virtual environment in Carrara. I have a feeling I am trying to do something atypical. Seems most people want to add a 3d ball to a live action background. I am trying to add a live action ball into a 3d room.

    You mean something like "Modern Times" 

    http://carraracafe.com/category/projects/page/4/

    Exactly (although I don't expect to achieve that level of quality with my skill set).

    edited to add: I remember seeing that video when it came out. I just went back to re-read the text and watch the "behind the scenes" video. While Carrara and After Effects were mentioned, there is no indication of how the camera motion tracking was done and brought into Carrara. I suspect something like SynthEyes was used.

    Post edited by jrm21 on
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