Did ya know...[Motionbuilder tips&tricks thread]


since we pre bake the lighting into our textures we don’t use mb’s lighting.
when importing our .fbx models from maya, we add a lighted shader, and a white material (changing diffuse to 100% white) to the model, then go into the models texture and check ‘use material.’


Yea, Anyone have a skeleton setup for Maya6.

Would be much apreciated.


you can download a two setup skeleton from hightend 3d maya scripts animation .


Using a ‘Flat Shader’ with transparency enabled turns on the alpha channel of still or video images on a ‘Video Plane’ in MOTIONBUILDER 6. This is not is the docs… took me a while to figure this out. MB is very powerful tool… see a practical application of this trick in the alias 3D storyboarding demo here:

keep the knowledge rolling–>




I just discovered something that made my day so I thought I’d share with the rest of the class.

I’m animating a kid picking up a rock and carrying it.

I’m not using a parent/child constraints to keep the wrist effectors in place while the rock moves all around because if I use a parent/child constraint I can’t animate the wrist anymore. What ever position I put the hand in last it stays for good because the constraint over rides all other animation. I heard multi-reference fixes this but I’m not sure how.

Anyway I found something that worked perfectly.

Auxilary effectors for the wrists!

I just created some Aux effectors for the wrists > moved them in a good spot on the rock > hit x on the keyboard > selected the aux effector > dragged it to the rock > selected “Parent” from the menu!

Then I used the “Reach T” slider to turn the aux effector on and off when I needed it, by creating key frames.

I get the best of both worlds!

My wrists stay where I want them and I can still animate the hand freely.

I’m sure this is old news to most of you. But for some it may not be.

Let me know if I’m not being clear on anything.


Ever get tired of zooming, panning the perspective cam to keep up with your mocap data?

If so read on…

This is a simple way to have a camera always track the character you’re editing.

It allows you to move/rotate the cam relative to the /character object so can always adjust your view but will always follow the character.

  1. Create a target camera.
  2. Create a null and align it’s position to the Characters root bone/effector.
  3. Move the camera so that it’s looking approximately at the characters root as in a mid-shot of a character.
  4. Ensure that the camera target is a reasonable distance from the camera body, but not too far.
  5. Parent the camera and target to the null.
  6. Position Constrain the null to the root node.
  7. Play your scene.

You should now have a camera that always follows the character, but still allows you to orbit or zoom around the character.

Hope you find this useful.


save often.



I know this gets asked alot but no one ever posted a working solution.

Can someone please tell me how to export bvh files from MB 6 into Max 7 CS so that you dont get the naming convention error when you open the bvh file in max’s motion cap dialouge?

Please be specific since there is much room for error here.

Thank you


If you do your keyframe animation in Story Window and maybe have different Tracks for Upper and Lower Body, make sure you have Full Body selected in one of the tracks.
Otherwise the file seems to crash sometime.


Changing pics in MB interface is very simple
Go to
Right click MB:Show Package contents. …\Contents\MacOs\System\Charecterctrl
C:\Program Files\Alias\MotionBuilder601Pro\bin\system directory

And change the “character-picture.tif”
I putted some example pics at this link

And while your at it change the splash screen as well
Right click MB:Show Package contents. …\Contents\MacOs\System\Splash\splash_animation.tif
C:\Program Files\Alias\MotionBuilder601Pro\bin\system directory

eeh don’t know like a pic of your girlfriend or something
really belief me she will like it.

ok, enough of this.
back to work again


I’m new to MB. I have MB 7.5 and the gettin’ stratin’ guide mentions that you can plot animation back on the character, so you get back your keys and continue editing… (if I didn’t get it wrong…), so I searched within the docs, but nothing… Is it possible to un-plot an animation, to get your keys back? How?
Thanks dudes :wink:


Great Post !! :thumbsup: always new bits n pieces you never knew existed eh :slight_smile:
By default when selecting using Motionbuilders character controlls …it only displays the IK skeleton in the Fcurves without selecting the FK skeleton directly , You can turn these on by checking the " Display Keying Group" under your Key controlls … this will allow you to view both IK and FK skeleton when only selecting in the character controlls window if you want to work completely in the Fcurves,
On a total tangent to anim in MB, a buddy of mine just showed me the real time effects Motionbuilder has… very cool stuff ,check ya camera options n within a couple of clicks (enable real time effects) real time M blur and DOF :slight_smile: :slight_smile: how does it crunch it ?! wooot



There’s a limit to the amount of bones in the .bvh format. In the image, I’ve included as many bones as possible.

It’s a good idea to select the heirarchy starting from the BVH:Hips node and down when exporting the BVH file. Not sure about Max 9, but in previous versions this caused errors.


almost forgot… exporting can be tricky. make sure that you select the “hips” node and then select the branches before export>bvh. if you select “reference” as well, you can get errors.


This might save hours of work for some (at least could have saved for me):


So, if you have one bone for each ear of a character, and want to animate it with simple FK, you don’t need to make custom constraints over nulls and the such: just add the bone to the extension and disable the option mentioned above.

And until MB has support for SplineIK, it’s also usefull for rigging/characterizing a FK tail.



Hi, guys, I know it’s been a while since the question, but still someone might find the answer usefull.I’m kinda new to MB aswell (VM you got a year head start on me :slight_smile: ) Here it comes -
Getting back keyframes to the rig from an animation ploted to the skeleton in MB 7.5:

  1. Select your character. In the Character settings tab choose “Control rig OUTPUT”
  2. Make sure “Active” is checked. The “Default control rig” should snap to the character in the viewport. (if the rig is in a T-Pose offset from the character check if “Active” is on)
  3. Simply click Plot and tell it to plot to the Control Rig. MB creates a new Control Rig for you with the keyframes that were ploted to the skeleton previously.

Hope I’ve been of use. :wink:


I know it’s a year late, but the answer to this could still be usefull to someone.Here it comes:
Getting keframes back to the control rig from a skeleton:

1:Select your character and in the “character settings” tab for input choose “Control rig OUTPUT”. Make sure “Active” is checked. At this point you should have a rig named “Default control rig” snapped onto your chararacter.( if the rig is in a T-pose and is not snapped on the char make sure “Active” is on for the input )
2. Click “Plot animation” and choose “to control tig” and voila - you have your new control rig with all the keys from the animation on the skeleton.

Any question, notes or comments are welcome. I don’t know if this is the only way, but this is how I approach this.Hope I’ve been of use :slight_smile:



spend some time now to find the option to deactivate the tooltips - and failed :frowning:
Especially in the character controls this is irritating.

Is it possible at all? How?


PS: good idea to start this thread :slight_smile:


sorry, posted it twice…


Here’s a tip.

In Motionbuilder, the order in which you create objects actually matters.

You can test that with the following example:

  1. Create an joint chain of two joints.
  2. Create a marker and place it at the end joint of chain. This is the “controll-object”.
  3. Make an chain IK constraint with the marker as effector.
  4. Make a position constraint with the end joint set as source and marker set as constrained. Click the zero button for the position constraint.

Doesn’t work very good does it? You can’t really move the marker so the setup isn’t usefull.

Try the exact same setup but do step 2 (create marker) before step 1 (create joints).
Now that is a usefull setup, the marker works as a control object while constraining to the end of the joint-chain. Try it out!