View Full Version : Why do Maya users need/use motionbuilder?

11 November 2006, 09:06 PM
Why do Maya users need/want Motionbuilder if they don't have mocap data?

or put simply, why would I want Motionbuilder over the built in animation capabilities of Maya?

Thanks for any advice

11 November 2006, 10:17 PM
I think quick rigging, real time animation, constraints, dynamics and the ability to add mocap if you ever wanted/needed to. The navigation is pretty simple and you can construct your own Layout to have the tools you need, for whatever purposes, independent of each other. I actually get things done alot faster and cleaner in MB than in Maya, which makes the people who pay me happy. Besides that it takes about 2min or less to import back and forth from Maya to MB without any data loss (in my experience). I would say Maya is good if you have a really complex rig, but I'm not too happy about the time I waste playblasting, fixing, playblasting, tweaking, etc...Give it a whirl and find out for yourself !

Anyone else want to co-sign for me here?

12 December 2006, 06:27 AM
Plus easy and fast process with clips and pose library, even Maya has builtin ones.
But i prefer to use MB for any animation most, i use in conjunction with mocap files.
Plus you can easily mirrow animation and lots more.

12 December 2006, 03:14 PM
Yes definitely the ability to get a script of highend3d to set up your fbx skeleton, then after binding, simply import into MB, characterize and boom you're up and running, is very cool.
In my limited experience so far with the Maya/MB combo I've been baking (plotting) keyframes going back to Maya but I will have a go at retaining live keyframes, although there are still some gotchas you have to be aware of. Favian, have you had luck in this area?

12 December 2006, 10:12 PM
Blur1 could you explain "retaining live keyframes"? we might be on the same page, just not speaking the same language, if you know what I mean?

12 December 2006, 09:25 PM
(@ Blur1) where can I get that script?

12 December 2006, 09:27 PM
There are two scripts that generate fbx skeletons on highend 3d. One does quadrupeds too.

12 December 2006, 04:44 PM
I've been using Maya for years, after having previously used Softimage. I've recently had to switch to Motion Builder and it's extremely painful; a MUCH more difficult transition than switching from Soft to Maya. I can't imagine trying to use this software everyday. In our experience, we have YET to bring data from Maya into Motion Builder and back to Maya without screwed up targeting, and loss of quality. Blend shapes, skin weighting, animation; none of it has transferred correctly. And we've had people from MB here to help us, and they admit to being frustrated and finally recommended we stick with Maya for our character animation. MB simply wasn't sophisticated enough to do the character animation we needed to do. I'm hopeful that having been folded under Autodesk with Maya that there will be significant performance, capability, and interface improvements. I'm looking forward to digging thru these forums looking for help

12 December 2006, 07:50 PM
I don't know about you man, but i've been working in MotionBuilder for quite a long time, and i use Maya for years too.
So with enough experience, you will not have any problem, what's so ever!
So i can assure the rest of ya, that it's the best software to do animation, you can do not only mocap, but also animate in it, rig your character as you wanned with powerfull expression collection and much more.
Facial animation, blendshapes, everything is working as it should.

12 December 2006, 09:24 PM
interesting... well, I certaintly hope so. I'll admit when the guys from Motion Builder told us not to use Motion Builder because it couldn't do so many of the animation things that Maya could do, we got pretty discouraged. But now we have to use it, so I hope the learning curve is smoother than it's been this week :}

12 December 2006, 09:53 PM
I can understand if they recommended to stick with is a very open system. I don't think it's so common to really customise MB in the same way (but I could be wrong).

12 December 2006, 11:19 PM
I have actually used MB longer and more than Maya for animation, so I may see this from a different angle than you. Just so you know where I am coming from. Anyway, of course I find it having both goods and bads (not really in comparison, but in general)...

If you are using MB for keyframe animation (and not mocap editing/recording) the major benefits are - as pointed out - that you spend basically no time rigging, it has a rather intuitive and easy-to-use/learn UI and it has a playback faster than I have seen anywhere else. I have animated "crowd" scens with 6 fully rigged and skinned characters, all with individual keyframe animation with no loss at all in playback speed.
So; you will quickly feel at home and can work very fast.

The major drawbacks however, which can be devastating for certain types of characters and animations, are the nearly impossible-to-use Fcurves and the lack of support for animating scale.
The Fcurves (in curve/graph editor) represent some strange behind-the-scenes coordinates that are neither local or global and can not be seen in the workspace, sometimes resulting in limbs taking unwanted routes between keyframes in FK mode. As far as I know, there is no equivalent of the euler filter that you have in maya to get around this either, so once you hit these problems you'll have to redo X amount of animation or compensate with X amount of keyframes.
The unability to animate scale in and on the MB character obviously discards any plans to do any kind of squash and stretch, which can be crucial for certain styles of characters or animations.

Though I might appear negative I still enjoy animating in MB before Maya due to the ease and speed, and if it wasn't for the abovementioned problems I, personally, would probably not need to animate in Maya at all.


12 December 2006, 10:49 AM
hehe @ Chagidiel ( 's
"redo X amount of animation or compensate with X amount of keyframes."
that sounds so damn familiar....

Though I can t agree with you on : "I would probably not need to animate in Maya at all"
As for me it s pretty much the opposite, but I guess that s subjective....
I try to avoid MB as much as possible (especially for hand-keyframe anim) and only use it in it s area of specialisation, which simply is, mocap editing (or general handling of large baked amounts of keys....) and anim transfer between differently proportioned (bipedal) characers....
oh...and for it s layer system when I need it and can live with baked curves on the given character...


12 December 2006, 01:12 PM
yes, "I would probably not need to animate in Maya at all" is indeed very subjective.

But still, my point is that I think if Fcurves should be made understandable and able work with in a logical manner and if scale animation on the MB character rig should be made possible, then MB would be a very capable choice of app for many kinds of character keyframe animation, and not primarily a mocap editor as it is now.
Then - trying to be more objective - the major advantage of using MB instead of Maya would be basically speed.


12 December 2006, 03:00 PM
I gotta agree with you on the f-curve editor. General opinion is that it's disastrous. We're also finding MB can't handle "hi-rez" characters very well. It's simplified control rig seems good for simple game characters, but hi-rez cinematic characters seem to suffer, especially around the joints in the shoulders. It's simple and fast, that's true, and that can be very valuable.. .. but sometimes good deformations are more important.

12 December 2006, 10:55 PM
I tend to agree with the points that have been posted here. I've been using MB for years (game production) for the simple reasons of simplicity and speed. I couldn't possibly produced the amount of animation if I had done it in any other app.

But saying that, I agree with ninth_level_dan, that you can get issues with deformation on hi- res characters.

Here's hoping to the next version of MB (I must say it has been a long time coming) failing that, the new features in XSI 6 are looking tasty!

12 December 2006, 12:04 PM
....sometimes good deformations are more important.

I m wondering, what s the issue there ?
We re allways having realtime I haven t had that issue yet as it s all fairly low poly... but as long as it s a joint driven rig (meaning no drivenKeys, no expressions, no muscle sims etc that affect any bone) it "should" behave exaclty like in maya.
Or does MB really alter the skinning/weighting itself ? If so, what happens if you take it back to maya....?


12 December 2006, 02:27 PM
I don't really understand the deformation thing...

I've allways had rather chunky deformations in MB, but good enough to animate with. But that doesn't matter since you never render anything there anyway. All you want is the animation, the joint animation. The skinning/deformations is only important in the final output app, from where you render. Is it not?

I might be wrong since I havent tried the latest version, after Alias became Autodesk. Have they done some integration between the skinning in Maya and MB now? Appears no good if true.

12 December 2006, 03:53 PM
the joints seem to rip apart the geometry in MB in ways that they don't in Maya. We're not sure why. But something about the skinning/weighting is not making it when we go back and forth. Our characters are pretty high poly. It's true, we aren't rendering in MB, but we do need to have good enough muscle deformations to know when the body is doing something anatomically impossible. MB's Control Rig seems too simple around the shoulders; we see where MB's shoulders and clavicles do not hinge in the proper place, nor do they slide across each other like a real shoulder/clavicle assembly would. Consequently, when we animate in MB, the shoulder geometry sometimes gets ripped up fairly bad. When we bring that low-fidelity joint rotation back into Maya, where we have rigged/skinned a rather sophisticated shoulder assembly, the data is not passed to the joints properly. The joints in Maya are indeed used to drive further deformers and blendshapes, so if the joints underneath are not behaving, the downstream effect is wrinkled Maya geometry.

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