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Exporting UT2004-legal characters with Maya

Document Summary: This is a short doc explaining a possible workflow for converting the UT2003/UT2004 character models (Max) for use with Maya.

Document Changelog: Last updated by Michiel Hendriks, update for v3323. Previously updated with animation information. Original author James Green (james@carbondata.com).


Files are for Maya 4.5, and should work fine with 5.0. Make sure you are using the latest version of ActorX.


The male_skeleton_rig has been converted and included with this release. If any other skeletons are required, follow the instructions in this first section; otherwise skip to the second set. If the skeleton is on the ground it is because I set the scene to assume Z-up; this makes it work better when merging with the existing psa/psk data. (If you are only attaching new meshes you don't need to use Z-up.)

Part 1: From Max to Maya

I think the easiest way to do this is to grab the free plugins for the FBX format, found here: http://www.alias.com/eng/products-services/fbx/ . Free registration required.

Install the plugins for both Max and Maya. It looks like the characters that DE provided are in Max4 format, but I'm sure Max5 works as well. Open the scene, and export everything to an FBX file.

Import the scene into Maya now, and don't use the "Merge" option. I just deleted all of the Dummy bones, since Maya does not use them. I also got rid of the Footsteps, and other non-skeleton related artifacts. Change the hierarchy so Bip01 is the root--you can delete the Filmbox root stuff after you have separated it from the hierarchy. (I also changed the scale to 1 instead of .34 or whatever it was before ungrouping it, not sure if this is necessary.)

Note that Maya does not allow spaces in object names, and of course Biped uses them all over the place. No problem, because Erik added the option to "convert underscores to spaces" when exporting. Make sure you set that option in axoptions.

You can make it export the "Bone weapon" by checking off the option for "hierarchy as bones", but I just made a bone for it instead and deleted the box. I duplicated the "Bip01_R_Finger0" bone and just set the rotation and translation to the same as the weapon bone. Be careful not to get an extra translation node created by accident (you shouldn't if you duplicate the bone I mentioned).

Your skeleton should be ready now. Check it against the Maya scene included to make sure it's ok if you are having problems.

Part 2: Exporting from Maya

This should be pretty easy, if you have a properly prepared scene. The one included has been tested. Just make sure you set the "underscores to spaces" option when exporting or it will not work I promise.

I'm not going to go into the details of attaching the mesh and doing the basic export -- you can find that well documented elsewhere. Just do a standard export, then check your log file and make sure your bone hierarchy looks something like this (might be a bit different for the different skeletons):

BONE LIST        [26] total bones in reference skeleton.
  number     name                                   (parent)
  [  0 ]    [Bip01                          ]      (  0 )
  [  1 ]    [Bip01 Pelvis                   ]      (  0 )
  [  2 ]    [Bip01 Spine                    ]      (  1 )
  [  3 ]    [Bip01 Spine1                   ]      (  2 )
  [  4 ]    [Bip01 Spine2                   ]      (  3 )
  [  5 ]    [Bip01 Neck                     ]      (  4 )
  [  6 ]    [Bip01 Head                     ]      (  5 )
  [  7 ]    [Bip01 R Clavicle               ]      (  5 )
  [  8 ]    [Bip01 R UpperArm               ]      (  7 )
  [  9 ]    [Bip01 R Forearm                ]      (  8 )
  [ 10 ]    [Bip01 R Hand                   ]      (  9 )
  [ 11 ]    [Bip01 R Finger0                ]      ( 10 )
  [ 12 ]    [Bone weapon                    ]      ( 10 )
  [ 13 ]    [Bip01 L Clavicle               ]      (  5 )
  [ 14 ]    [Bip01 L UpperArm               ]      ( 13 )
  [ 15 ]    [Bip01 L Forearm                ]      ( 14 )
  [ 16 ]    [Bip01 L Hand                   ]      ( 15 )
  [ 17 ]    [Bip01 L Finger0                ]      ( 16 )
  [ 18 ]    [Bip01 L Thigh                  ]      (  1 )
  [ 19 ]    [Bip01 L Calf                   ]      ( 18 )
  [ 20 ]    [Bip01 L Foot                   ]      ( 19 )
  [ 21 ]    [Bip01 L Toe0                   ]      ( 20 )
  [ 22 ]    [Bip01 R Thigh                  ]      (  1 )
  [ 23 ]    [Bip01 R Calf                   ]      ( 22 )
  [ 24 ]    [Bip01 R Foot                   ]      ( 23 )
  [ 25 ]    [Bip01 R Toe0                   ]      ( 24 )

Notice that Bip01 is the root, that there are no underscores in the names, and there are no "Dummy" bones. And the weapon bone is there too.

After importing, you can just copy the mesh properties from an existing mesh and paste them onto your new character. Then linkup the mesh and animations, and you should be good to go.

Part 3: Exporting Animations

Surprisingly, it seems like you can append animations created in Maya as well. There are a few things that might give you some trouble that I can think of though. First, if you want to set up a nice rig for your character, you will notice that I deleted the terminating bones since it's easier to skin your character that way. But Maya likes to have terminating bones for IK chains, if you are doing your feet with the grouped IK technique. You can add them in of course, just make sure that those dummy bones are not influencing any part of your mesh or ActorX will try to export them.

The other thing is that with the UT2004 version of the editor, it does not let you choose Maya coordinates when appending animations. It is assumed that if you started using Maya/Max you will continue to do so. The quick fix is to change Maya's up direction to Z in your Preferences -> Settings.

And if you want to get animations from Max into Maya, use the FBX plugins, only when importing into Maya make sure you set the "Merge" option on again. I haven't tested this, but in theory it should work. It would be useful if you want to use something like an idle animation as the base for something else.