Uefy v2.1 adds a new Match Pose feature that can pose the rigged character to be the same as an imported animation.
This is significant because now we can easily copy Key Frames from existing animations. Allowing us to seamlessly blend our custom animations with existing sets like those on the Unreal Marketplace.
Prior to this feature it had to be done manually. By individually moving every single control to it’s correct position in an attempt to match the pose of an existing animation.
There are Limitations
However it is important to understand the limitations of this feature and how it works to use it effectively.
Match Pose not Retarget
This feature is not a retargeting solution, it simply matches the transforms of an imported armature with animation to the rigify rig.
This means we need additional measures to use characters with different proportions to copy the pose. Otherwise if animations were authored on a different character they could not be copied over without severe distortion. That would be very limiting and not useful at all.
So we use Unreal Engine to do the retarget for us. Animations from the unreal marketplace are obtained for the unreal mannequin. But they can be retargeted using the engine to a character of any size.
By retargeting in the engine to our characters previously rigged with Rigify + Uefy. We can obtain animation that is usable for pose matching.
While this works well for overall size/scale. Some features to fine tune the retarget are specific to the unreal editor and not exported in the output FBX.
To get an accurate view of what the pose will look like in Blender. In the skeleton Retargeting Options, recursively set everything to ‘Animation’.
Depending on how different the proportions of your character are to the Unreal mannequin this will introduce stretching and displacement in some places (which can be fixed as shown below).
This is the pose that will be exported from the engine to FBX.
How to work around this
So how can we work around this?
Use the Mannequin
Well the first thing you can do is just rig the mannequin in blender and use that for creating your own animation. Since any rigged mannequin is going to match the proportions of the original. There will be minimal stretching or displacement.
Once the animation is made and imported to unreal you can retarget it to your custom characters in the editor.
But I want to use Custom Mesh
Can we use a Custom Mesh and overcome this stretching problem? Yes.
Depending on what you need this will mean different things.
If you are primarily interested in single poses for Key Frames. You can simply move the displaced bones into place. If a single pose is what you need that is all there is to it. Once corrected you can add it to the pose library and reuse as needed.
But I want the entire Animation
This trick is not going to work for a whole animation. Because that would mean updating every single frame by hand. Can we do anything in this case? Yes.
It may not be as fancy as the retargeting options in the unreal editor but Uefy does offer a couple of options to improve the pose.
You can edit the control file in Scripting workspace. It would be called ‘uefy_anim_Custom.json’ and set either location or rotation value to ‘false’ for any problem bone.
This is somewhat affected by the type of animation you are running. But for most animation selectively setting the location value to false on clavicle, thigh, upperarm, hand and toe bones will likely eliminate the most common stretching problems.
Turning off a transform on one bone might have consequences further down the chain. If your mesh has them the twist bones might also play a role. So you do need to plan this out a little.
This is not about just flipping a switch on or off. By carefully choosing whether location or rotation transforms are copied from the animation or inherited from the rig by various bones. You can remove the stretching problem almost completely.
In the cases where this is affecting animation playback you can fall back to animating with the mannequin.
Using a combination of manual adjustment and control file customization. We can efficiently Match Pose and extract Key Frames from existing animation. Without spending a lot of time manually moving every control in the rig. This is the primary function of this feature.
Blender has been moving forward with new updates at light speed. Many new features have been added. Including new functionality for Rigify that is really awesome. Rigify was always a good rigging system but with these new updates it can truly stand on it own against some of the more larger systems.
These new updates and changes have been transparent to Uefy Script without any breaking effects. But there are some cosmetic changes to the interface you should be aware of when following what is shown in the older youtube tutorials.
FBX Import and Export
When importing or exporting FBX files the options for the armature and animation are on the right side of the dialog box. Only the location has changed. You still get the same options and they still operate the same way.
Run Script Button
The “Run Script” button has been shortened and looks like a play button now. It has the same function and nothing has changed.
Spine and Neck Joints
With it’s default settings Rigify requires the spine to be continuous without any breaks between the bones. With newer Blender releases it is now possible to select and move the lower spine without moving the neck and head.
However this still causes an error with Rigify when you try to the generate the rig. You can avoid this by moving the whole spine as one piece. Just make sure that when you adjust the bones the head and tail of adjacent bones in the metarig always overlap perfectly.
For example the Tail of Spine.004 should be in the exact same location as the head of Spine.003
If you do that the rig generates without any problems.
Advanced Spine and Neck Joints
It is actually possible to separate the neck and spine but requires an additional change to Rigify settings for metarig neck bone.
You have to turn off “Connect Chain” for Spine.004 in Pose Mode -> Bone Properties -> Rigify Type -> Options
After doing so the rig will generate without issue even if there is a break between the neck and spine. This could be great for rigging larger Brute/Hulk style characters.
This is a newer functionality that I’ve not used much but it seems to be working fine in the limited tests I’ve done with v1.3 of the script. I’ll have this fleshed out more for the next update.
Uefy Script is a python script made for Blender 2.8 that enables rigify addon to export an Epic Skeleton compatible bone hierarchy. With Uefy you can quickly rig and export any character and create new animations for Unreal Engine from Blender.
Step by Step guide to start using C++ for Unreal Engine 4
While it may seem daunting at first, we will see Unreal Engine provides a plethora of macros and features not commonly associated with C++ to make it very easy indeed.
Blueprint is an incredibly powerful visual scripting language provided by Unreal Engine 4. It provides the ability for anyone to create compelling games with advanced graphics by drawing out logic using nodes and pins instead of writing code.
However as pure Blueprint projects grow in size. They can become difficult to manage and organise. Even a small project can require a rather large code base. Pointedly it can cause difficulty with source control and sharing work between team members. Blueprint is a stepping stone to quickly get into game development. The correct way to proceed with a production quality project is to use a combination of Blueprint and C++.
The goal is to move Logic to cpp space while retaining the ability to set settings and options for quick design changes in Blueprint. Effectively we want a C++ backend and a Blueprint frontend.
What makes games really pop and come to life are the small things. One of the most important of these is variation in character idle animations. Perhaps the most iconic of which are idle and repeat click animations on peasants and grunts in the Warcraft series of video games.
Achieving the same result in Unreal Engine 4 is pretty straight forward.
First we setup some preliminary variables in the AnimBlueprint for the 3d character model that shall have multiple Idle Animations.
Then we take the first sequence pin to setup Speed and IsInAir variables. The speed variable will drive the locomotion 1D blend animations while the IsInAir variable controls animations for falling and jumping.
And lastly we take the second sequence pin to set the switch boolean “Show Wait Anim” whenever a certain amount of time has lapsed. The blueprint starts counting time if speed is zero and hence the character is not moving.
If the character moves the timer is reset, the alternative idle animation is played and the timer is reset again to replay after another time interval.
This is a very simple system that can easily be expanded for more complex animations including variations in time and order of animations. So for example a character that is standing still might look around or shuffle in place every little while for a much more realistic and convincing appearance.