Autodesk Maya

Maya Tutorial

Shadow provides support to preview, record, and import motion capture directly from Autodesk® Maya® 3D animation software. Maya users can easily integrate Shadow directly into their character animation work flow.

This tutorial outlines the Maya tools and plug-in included with all of our Shadow motion capture systems. We support the last four years of Maya releases. Maya LT also works great and supports live-streaming, our FBX file format, and animation retargeting.

1) Shadow control panel. Open from the Shadow menu in the Animation (F2) menu set.

Open the Shadow control panel. This is accessible from the menu item Shadow which, by default, is in the Animation (F2) menu set.

The Shadow control panel is tabbed by command functionality. We will start with the Preview related commands.

2) Result of the Load Skeleton command. A Maya version of our software skeleton model, ready for preview.

Click on the Load Skeleton button. This reads the skeleton hierarchy and measurement information from the Motion software service.

We now have a hierarchy of named joint nodes with their translate and jointOrient attributes set. All rotate channels are zero since we will use those to drive the animation. This is called the rest or T-pose.

The Markers checkbox creates positional locators for each joint. These also display the current active contact points during preview.

3) Result of the Start Preview command. The skeleton pose updates on the fly. The Preview text is displayed in the HUD.

Click on the Start Preview button. This connects to the Motion service and starts streaming animation data.

Note the Preview text shown in the heads up display (HUD) of the Maya viewport. This means that the data stream is active and driving the skeleton.

Preview operates separately from and supercedes the timeline. When you Stop Preview the skeleton will return to the keyframed pose.

The Set Pose button is used to create the performer rest pose and reset the skeleton position between takes.

4) Result of the Start Take command. The Recording text is display in the HUD.

Click on the Start Take button. This starts a recording session in the Motion software.

The preview remains active and this does not add any keyframes in Maya. The take is recorded from the Motion software and stored in your Motion data folder.

Click the Stop Take button when you are finished recording.

5) Result of the Import Take command. Dense keyframes on the Hips joint show up as solid red in the timeline.

Click on the Import Take button. This finds the most recent take recorded and loads the keyframes into the timeline.

The Use Character checkbox imports a take into an animation clip for use in the Trax Editor. This also creates a character set for the skeleton if it does not already exist.

The Use FBX checkbox exports the take from the Motion software as an FBX file and then imports it into Maya using the FBX importer. This option is available for platforms that do not support our plug-in based take importer.

6) Viewing the imported animation curves in the Graph Editor. The Hips translation channels (in cm) are shown in this screenshot.

Open the Graph Editor to view the animation curves. In the screen shot, the Hips translation channels are shown in centimeters.

You can now use the Shadow control panel to start the preview again and record another take. When you import additional animation, its keyframes will be placed at the end of the timeline or into a separate clip.


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