Introduction to Animation

We will be creating character skeletal animations and rigid body animations in UE4.


Index



What you will need?

For this project you will need to be install Unreal Engine 4.22.x , have a GitHub account (which is free of charge) as well as GitHub Desktop.


Starting New Git Repository


  1. If you are a student of mine in class you will have received an email of this same repository and will view the invitation and press the Accept this Assignment button. Once this process is complete open Github Desktop and press File | Clone Repository and clone the UE4-intro-to-animation repository.
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  1. If you are not part of the class you can login into github with your personal account and navigate to https://github.com/maubanel/ue4-intro-to-animation and in the top right corner press the fork button:
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  1. Navigate to the directory where you installed it. You will have a Source Files folder with all the files you need. There is a hidden .git folder that contains the database for all your files. There is a LICENSE file that declares the copyright and licensing terms. You can look at this if you like. The README.md file has temporary text that you need to keep updated. You also have a .gitignore file that keeps binaries and files that are not required out of the git repository. You should fill it in with relevant content as you progress through this walk through. You will only see the .git folder if you have hidden folders turned on.
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Download Character

There are many options available to us, but lets use a non UE4 solution to see just how easy it is to import an FBX file with animations. We will start by selecting a character.


  1. Navigate in a web browser to mixamo.com and you can sign in with your Adobe credentials (they are run by Adobe) or create a new account.
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  1. Press the Characters tab and scroll through their selection of character models. I will select AJ but you can pick the one of your choice. Once you have chosen press the Download button.
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  1. You will now get a Download Settings menu. We will leave the Format as FBX and the Pose as T-pose. Press the Download button to download the model.
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Download Animations


  1. Press on the Animations tab. Lets find some animations. Lets start with the regular run speed. Type Run in the Search menu and click through various runs. Pick a moderate speed run that you like. Now adjust the various settings to make it as you would like. Make sure the arms don’t swing into the body poloygons.
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  1. Now the unreal engine will be propelling the player forward and backward. So we do not want the animation to translate through space. When you find an animation you like make sure you press the In Place toggle so that the player runs on the spot. Make all adjustments then press the Download button.

  1. In the Download Settings you will need to make a change. We do not need the model every time, and now only need animation data that is solved to this model. Select the Skin drop down menu and change it to Without Skin. Press the Download button.
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  1. Repeat this process for a fast run. Make sure you select In Place and download this new animation as you did previously.
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  1. Repeat for a slow walk animation. I found one that looks like he is sneaking up on someone.
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  1. Download a normal speed walk:
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  1. Pick two idle animations. One that is just breathing and another one that we can cut to after a timer to give the animation some personality. My second one has the character striking his foot like he wants to move again.
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  1. Double click the UE4 Project IntroToAnimation.uproject to open the UE4 editor. Create two new folders called Characters | AJ. You can call the name of the second folder by the character you picked for the game.
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  1. Go to your Downloads folder and drag the file that has the characters name on it into the AJ character folder. As a hint, it will be the largest file (model is bigger than the animations):
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  1. Now in a production game we want to share the same base skeleton where we can. To learn more about this go to this Skeletal Assets Unreal Training Video to find out more. For us we will use the skeleton that is provided with this geometry. So make sure you leave Skeleton blank and you can leave all the other settings as default.
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  1. Now you this imports a lot of files into the project. You should see a Skeletal Mesh, a Physics Asset, a Skeleton, a group of Materials and finally a group of Textures. If you picked a different character then your folder will have different files.
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  1. Create a new folder under AJ called Materials. Drag and drop and Move the materials into this folder.
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  1. Create a new folder under AJ called Textures. Drag and drop and Move the textures into this folder.
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  1. Double click the Physics asset and look at it. You can see that this has the collision volumes that move with the mesh. The default settings should be fine.
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  1. Open the skeletal mesh. Look at the right hand side and you will see a list of bones that are on the skeleton.
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  1. Double click the Skeletal Mesh and lets look at the model. Now when going from Mixamo to UE4 there are some errors in how the Materials are put together. In some cases it is quite prominent. With AJ, something is wrong with the face. We will fix this on the next page.
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