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Can you use an existing skeleton/rig in the ART Animation tool in Maya?

So in Maya with the Animaiton and Rigging Toolset, you can create a skeleton and rig it to a mesh to get your character ready to animate. However I was wondering if its possible to use the Animation tool with the toolset with a mesh thats already skinned to a custom skeleton? In my case its a character from another game that has bones that control parts of the mesh like weapons, cloth, etc, and I don't think I'd be able to get those unique bones into the skeleton with the rigging tool of the toolset. The reason I ask is this is I want to be able to use the animation tools with the control rig and all the import/export features that would greatly increase efficiency in getting animations into UE4. Any ideas?

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asked Mar 27 '14 at 08:52 AM in Using UE4

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Hi Krailyx, There's probably a few ways to go about this, and without really looking at your current skeleton/rig, it's hard to say which one would be best.

Hacky Option 1: First off, you can't really just plug an existing skeleton into the ART toolset. Jeremy built it from the ground up to be an all-in-one rigging and animation solution. But, if you wanted to have the functionality of the UI and rig, while keeping your current skeleton, I think you could create a new skeleton that matched the proportions of your old one through the normal ART setup process (described here: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Content/Tools/MayaRiggingTool/RigTool_Rigging/index.html) and then constrain your old skeleton to the newly created one. So, it will still be driven by the ART control rig, but will preserve whatever naming convention, etc you have currently. The export animation functionality will not work however as it will export the new skeleton not your old one. So, at export time, you'll just have to grab your old hierarchy in the outliner, bake animation, and then export selected. Whew!

Option 2: Recreate the old skeleton in ART. I'm not sure how much you played around with ART, but there is support for adding extra bones for weapons, cloth, etc. Just look at that link I pasted above under 'Adding Extra Joints'.

Hope that helps, and if anything needs clarification or anything, just yell.

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answered Mar 27 '14 at 12:56 PM

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Ray Arnett STAFF
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avatar image krailyx Mar 27 '14 at 06:41 PM

Interesting, I'll try both options to see what works best for me. I've tried to use the tool as much as I could but whenever I go to add a character or build/publish it I just get an error that prevents me from doing anything else with it.

avatar image Ray Arnett STAFF Mar 27 '14 at 08:00 PM

Ah, sorry you're having trouble with it.

Have you seen this thread: https://answers.unrealengine.com/questions/17113/maya-animation-and-rigging-toolset-cannot-bind-ski.html

Sounded like a couple people had found workarounds for that issue. Not sure if it's the same thing that you are seeing.

avatar image krailyx Mar 27 '14 at 10:04 PM

It sounds like it would work for an issue I'm having now with not currently being able to bind the skeleton to my mesh. But its all drawing back to the problem I'm having where I can't build/publish any skeletons in the ART tool in any situation, with this being the error I get. http://puu.sh/7LYuM.png What you linked is sounding pretty much like the solution to my rigging issue but when I can't even compile it prevents me from doing anything.

avatar image krailyx Apr 01 '14 at 12:10 AM

Hey, so I was wondering, I'm going to try the hacky method since I really don't want to re-rig an entire character that is already rigged. Can you explain some more on how to constrain the old skeleton to the new one? I'm not really sure how to go about doing that in maya.

avatar image Ray Arnett STAFF Apr 01 '14 at 12:24 PM

Hi Krailyx, There's probably a few different ways to set up the relationship between your old rig/skeleton and your new one, but I'm a fan of keeping it simple. So, I would just use Point and Orient constraints.

You would want to make the new skeleton in ART match your old skeleton as closely as possible. So, all the joint locations should match up as closely as you can (without getting too OCD). Then, after your ART rig is completed, you could step through your old skeletal hierarchy a joint at a time and constrain it to your new one. I imagine it would mostly be Orient constraints, except for bones that you would need to translate like the Hips or Pelvis, maybe the Root, etc and you could throw a Point constraint on those also. With the Orient constraints, I would keep 'Maintain Offset' turned on.

Just for clarity, when I say 'your new skeletal hierarchy', I mean the one that begins with 'root'. In your outliner, it should look like '(name of your rig):root'.

Hope that helps, and if you need any more clarification, just yell.

avatar image krailyx Apr 01 '14 at 11:46 PM

Ah I seem to have finally gotten it working. Thanks, this is extremely handy to know.

avatar image Vertal Apr 18 '14 at 12:51 PM

Did you used the first "Hacky" method?

avatar image Sherif Riad Aug 03 '15 at 06:38 PM

Well .. this is tricky but not off topic.. I know how to use Maya ART but the situation in a brief is that I want to use Daz Studio models in UE4.8 with Animation Starter Pack and I already gone through all the possible re-targeting finest solutions and not just inside UE but also Max and C4D but at the end the result was a horror movie character skeleton! (messed up movements and displacements of bones) :D so.. It looks like the best solution is to try to match the skeleton of Daz models with the one that UE understands nice (aka: Maya ART) but the only problem here is that I don't really have a clue on how to replace the skeleton of the rigged Daz model in Maya ART with the UE4 recognized skeleton without going through all the frustrated weighting tasks.. considering that Maya constraints is not recognizable in UE4 plus that you can't already have a fbx model with two skeletons - driver(UE4) + original(Daz) anyway... or can you?! lol .. any (fast easy) help? :)

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