Any production experience with Motion Builder ?


Hi All,

I am not sure not sure if this is a repeat post but the search dint help me find one.

I was wondering if anyone can share some of their production experience using Motion Builder in their pipeline. It’ll be great to know the pro’s and con’s of integrating that.

FYI, the company i am working is into Animation Features and TV Series.

Any help and information sharing will be appreciated.



Good request. What 3D app are you using? I only have time for a few right now…
[li]Save. OFTEN.[/li][li]Test importing/exporting b/t MBuilder and your target 3D app. thoroughly.[/li][li]The MBuilder to Character Studio pipeline is a bit limited and requires very specific naming/skeletal set-up (check the Did ya know…[Motionbuilder tips&tricks thread]).[/li][li]Really good for previz, depending on your requirements.[/li][li]Plays nicest with maya (recognizes more constraints, etc.).[/li][/ul]


Thnx for the reply and info dude. Sorry to mention that we are using Maya right now. And we are looking for a semi-cartoonish kinda animation style for a feature.

I am checking out Motion Builder just to check out the features and the good things about it. But i was more concenred about the integrating it into the workflow and the problems that one faces in a larger work environment.

It may work all fine if i am testing it out, but what happens if 40 animators are working on it and they have to make corrections now and then according to the reviews of their director.

Does it speeds up or slows down the process ? Is it smooth to be fit in a pipeline ?? Is it really helpful for animators to concentrate on their animations or it creates more troubles for them to take their file to and fro from MB to Maya ?

Thnx for the tips and tricks link, ill surely check it out.


Are you using mocap with it at all?

Even in a keyframe pipeline, MB could really save you time. Look into using clips in the stary tab. You can have a lead animator build walk cycles, hand gestures, etc. that the rest of the team can build from. MB’s story tab can really help offset the animations and quickly lock down/pin feet hands into new positions to manipulate the data. You’ll have to get used to the way it handles keying on the rig (whether the keys are on the FK or the IK Effectors), work out using facial animation (maya shouldn’t have any problems exporting/re-importing the blendshapes with their animation - i haven’t done any advanced stuff with facial set-ups, so there might be some limitations you’ll have to read up on).

Depending on the complexity of the rig and the type of motion, Maya and MBuilder may be a really good thing for you. Using .fbx b/t those two apps seems pretty painless once you learn the import/export limitations and how that affects your rig. The FBIK rig in Maya is almost exactly the same rig MB uses (look at the naming, heirarchy and rig options). You should look at what the Trax editor is capable of, too. Maya 8.5 seems to have incorporated other similar MB features, so give those a look. You might just need an upgrade to get the tools you want.

I will say MB has really odd quirks you’ll need to get used to. I don’t remember any that didn’t have a reasonable work-around (don’t quote me on that. haha.) Evaluate it and maybe get an experienced user/consultant to train you/one of your people on the specifics and pipeline incorporation. (to start, try checking out the free 3d buzz video tuts and all the tuts on Autodesk’s Area site.) I hear scripting for MB isn’t exactly a joy, though.

I’m happier for having it as a tool in my pipe. If you have a decent machine to run MB on, you can really benefit from the realtime playback. Hands down, my favorite feature.

Good luck!


Sounds good. Thanx for that info again dude. Its too much of help for me. Just wanted to ask few more things.

We wont be using MoCap at all. It’ll be totally keyframed semi-toon style of animation, with a lil bit of squash stretch stuf being used. So,

> Is it worth using it when we are not using MoCap at all ?
> Is it fine to use the rigs made in Maya inside MB [Normal IK/FK rigs, no plans of using FBIK rigs]. Is it easy to take it to and from from Maya to MB ?
> Non-Linear features of MB seems to be a really good feature> But how good is that when we compare that with Maya’s trax editor ?

Sorry if i am asking too much. BUt any info you can share will be a good help.
Thnx :slight_smile:


Hope you dont mind me jumping in !

If you are not going to use Motion Capture then Steer clear of Motion Builder.
MB has some great tools and features but if all you want to do is some hand keyed squash and stretch then you wanna keep your pipeline clean and effecient.
My background is in cartoon animation using Maya and recently have had to begin using motion builder for a new project. The gain that you will make by intergrating Motion Builder into your workflow would be minimum, so my advice is to avoid it.


Hi Ayjay, that was a great help. Even i was wondering that if MB claims to be so efficient for animators, why isint it used so much in the studios around. In the studios that work on keyframed animation.

Will be great if you can share lil more experience of yours on using MB. The kind of problems you faced.

Thnx Dude.



Well, I used to do alot of hand keyed animation on some Disney productions and in my experience you simply cant beat a basic ik /fk rig that has been set up well !!
Im guessing your making an animated short or film piece with a cartoony style ?
Maya or Max, whatever you are using is honestly all you need animation wise! There are so many third party products on the market that make our lives easier but also increase the scale and complicate pipelines for small gains.
Motion builder is a powerful app and works well within a games pipeline, but adding it into a regular animation pipeline is just creating an extra step to deal with. Once your characetr is setup in Maya it then needs to be re-mapped within motion builder so you can use its character controls. this process is by no means messy or too time consuming but why go there if you dont need to ?
If you are used to using Maya, then MB will make you crazy ! Although you can change the keyboard mapping to a similar Maya setup, the interface is not designed well and is really slow in terms of navigation. It not user friendly for the key frame animator.
To be honest MB would have to be the buggiest application I have ever used ! It is constanly jamming, has refresh issues, causing animation frustration !! I have encountered countless issues with its functionality and interpolation. Its just a headach you dont need when you are trying to be creative.
The coolest feature I think MB has is the ability to animate using layers like photoshop, but some guys have written a script that will allow similar functionality within Maya !
MB has a real time animation playback engine, COOL ! Everybody uses cut down meshes when they are animating anyway, no need to see real time shaders or cloth. When you have a set and a few characters in it, even MB starts to slow down !
For every Pro within MB, a solution can be found in another package, its really a very exspensive toy used to clean up motion capture and retarget animation for games. Its not worth the cost or hassle of trying to implement it in a small production pipeline. The gains are simply not there. I use MB everyday, and cant wait to get back to hand keyframing in Maya.
Again these are just my opinions and advice to you, Im not trying to sway you either way because at the end of the day its your choice matey !
Good luck with everything :wink:


Ouch. What version of Motionbuilder are you using, if I may ask?



sounds interesting, what script is that?



Originally Posted by LoneCanuck
Ouch. What version of Motionbuilder are you using, if I may ask?

Sure !! Right now Im using Motion Builder 7.5 Professional Edition, if you use the deafault settings and regular MB Key mapping it seems to have less bug problems but when you set the Key mapping to Maya and then also edit the .txt document to map more keys, its seems to get some real issues.

Originally Posted by Krolichka
sounds interesting, what script is that?

You can find that script here from these guys,



Ayjay is obviously pro and he know what he is talking about, but let me share somewhat different experience.
I am rather new in MB (near one year of learning and working) and I make my short animated movies almost completely in MotionBuilder 7.5 Pro. Animated layers, real time and all previz subsystem makes wonders for my type of animation, I cant imagine to work in some other tool. Crash is something I expierenced maybe four or five times in this year.
One thing more is irresistible for me also: smile effect. You know this feeling, when some software does exactly what you want and it does this fast and friendly, almost anticipated your wishes. I am keep smiling when I work in MotionBuilder. (Ok, I know it is probably some first love nonobjective impression, but it is true.)
If you have a time, look my movie “Cirque du Machinima: Cuckoo Clock”, critics I get are excellent and some said that this can be almost demo for previz capabilities of MB.
Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but maybe it can be good example of “I am smiling and MB is all I need” option of this wonderful software.


For cartoony animation I would think you would want to stay in your host software. Motionbuilder has lots of good features but they are not geared for “chicken little” style animation. It can be setup to do it but is lots more work than it would be in max/maya/xsi.

Check it out anyway and see what you think.


I have to agree with most comments, we’re using motionbuilder as the backbone for our animation serie, but that’s almost all mocap, and it’s really really good for working with mocap.
But i wouldn’t want to keyframe cartoon animation in it, also it’s to rigid for customizing rigs, it costs a lot of time and the only thing you get back from motionbuilder is bone animation data… So if you would want to add some extra stuff later on, you would be adding an extra layer off controls in you animation package, wich makes tweaking animation afterwards a real pain… (do you tweak in motion builder or in your 3d app)… For mocap data and a mocap workflow definitly go for motionbuilder, but for cartoon and more controls over your rigs stay with your 3d app!

my 2 cents,


I animate in MB ,Maya and XSI and would say the same as most of the others. If you are not using mocap dont bother with MB. Its no fun to hand key in compared to Maya or XSI and whatever benefits you get from the realtime playback are soon lost with the instability and major interpolation issues.


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