CAT like animation system with custom rig (3DS Max)

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  10 October 2012
CAT like animation system with custom rig (3DS Max)


Im currently working on a character for my new boss...
Weve talked about the setup and hew wanted me to use CAT to create the rig.

Since I keep getting into trouble with CAT, even though I like the idea of it, Im now trying to convince him to let me build a custom rig.

Im not very experienced in doing that, but following a couple of tutorials I managed to crank out a basic custom rig to show him its power...

But there are still a couple of things to consider:

My Boss would like to be able to save, load and mix animations like within CATs layer system.
So Ive looked into several solutions...

A) I know you can just save and load animations via the animation menu and as long as they are for the same character its pretty straight forward.

B) I tried using the animation layers from the animation menu to be able to mix several animations together ( like for example have some head movement on a seperate layer to be added locally to another animation).

First problem with this approach: Since Im adding the animation to a seperate layer I now have to remap everything, wich is annyoing and I also think my boss wouldnt want to have to take care of this process on his own.
Second Problem: As soon as I enable layers the frozen transforms no longer seem to work...

C) I also took my first look at the motion mixer.
At first glance this looked like the perfect replacement for CATs layer system.
But then I realized I couldnt keyframe my character manually anymore, I could only use saved clips...

So. Any ideas on a suitable workflow, anything Im missing?
  10 October 2012
Just a kind bump, since I havent found a solution to my problems yet...
  11 November 2012
what kind of trouble were you getting into with cat? it sounds like using it would be your best option, especially if your client already wants to use it

Quote: Second Problem: As soon as I enable layers the frozen transforms no longer seem to work...

Seems to work as I expect. The new animation layer is a duplicate or new transform controller, so the frozen transform will be where I froze it originally, relative to the layers of course. I don't expect it to return to a universal base position, like a biped in figure mode.
- Joe
  11 November 2012
Problems with Cat happened mostly, if I wanted to use it with other parts (custom bones) or either constraints and such. There are a couple of things to consider like "additive to setup" and enabling "animation controller" but I always managed to get things messed up pretty quick.

But here's an interesting idea:
In theory it should be possible to create a cat parent object and then just link your custom bone rig to it. And now to be able to use the layer system, you could simple create cat extra bones for each control of your rig, maybe even put edit polystyrene on top and attach the original controls for better visual representation. Since you would be only animating the rig via it's controls, you should be able to store poses and animations via the layer system. Still a lot of questions that would have to be tried (can you put custom attributes on CAT bones?), but if I got some time in the end, I'll give it a try and post my results...
  11 November 2012
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