04/13/2021

Converting iClone Motions to Bipeds

Though I enjoy 3D animating, there are times that finding pre-existing animations can be useful. I already use Character Creator 3; meanwhile, iClone, an animation tool from Reallusion, offers premade animations. They may not be great for fast-paced, in-game actions, but they are good for more performance-centric animations. However, in my current pipeline, I use the 3DS Max biped, and often premade animations are in .fbx format. iClone motions, however, are their own format, so I wanted to see if there was a way I could quickly convert these to .bip format and apply them to a variety of characters.

I already have a tool that does this for .fbx’s, but it can be a bit slow and cumbersome, especially for long animations.

So my pipeline for iClone motion files because with a tool that comes with iClone called 3DXchange, which essentially helps export work made in iClone to other formats such as .fbx so they can be imported into 3D suites or game engines. I tried a few things at first such as exporting characters to .bvh, a type of motion capture format; however, when importing them back to 3DS Max through the biped system, the import would fail.

I was fighting various pipelines and techniques for awhile; however, I finally came across a tutorial that helped:

This video showed that you can export a biped and reimport an .fbx that uses said biped back, which I didn’t realize. With this knowledge, I was able to convert a large amount of .imotion and .rlmotion files that I had already owned for use in my games. Here is the series of steps I used to accomplish this.

Create a Biped

First, in a 3ds max scene I had to create a biped. I made sure to give it the 5-fingers with 3 links each, 3 spines, and reduces the number of toe links to 1. I don’t know if this has any affect on the results, but this rig matches my characters the closest, so I felt it was important to replicate that.

Export the Biped

With the biped created, I saved the scene and exported it as a .fbx. I don't have any really fancy settings, so here is a quick screenshot of my export settings:

Import into 3DXchange

3DXchange comes with iClone if you purchase an export license, meaning the work you create with it can be exported to other programs. It’s a little more expensive than the standard license, which I believe you can only use for renders, but I still feel it’s worth, especially since they don’t utilize a subscription service. Anyway, once you open or drag-and-drop the biped .fbx into 3DXchange, you should have something like this:

Convert to Non-Standard Format

Next, I had to make sure the rig I imported was setup properly. On the right side of 3DXchange, there is a Character Setup, shown in the previous image. Convert to Non-Standard should be available. When you click this, the UI changes slightly. There is then a tab of presets, one of which is for the 3ds max biped. When I select that, the circle in the upper-left should go form red to green. Finally, to complete the conversion, I need to click the "active" toggle next to T-Pose, which will move the rig slightly and enable the "Convert" button. (This took me way longer to figure at first than it should have.)

Importing Motions

Now, I can import my Motion files under the Motion Library section. Once imported, I can click “Add All to Perform.” This will make it so all of the important animations can be exported.

Once they are all added, I can finally export these to .fbx. Note, not all Motion (.imotion, .imotionplus, .rlmotion, etc.) files will import properly based on rigging information; for example, I have to make sure the animation works with iClone 6 or below. Note, I also found that using “import” will fail, but clicking-and-dragging the animation into 3DXchange will sometimes work – not sure why. The following are my .fbx export settings. I prefer having "Save One Take Per File" which will give me one .fbx for each animations instead of one large one.

Importing Back to the Biped

Once the .fbx files are exported from 3dXchange, I can import the newly created .fbx files, applying them to the original biped. To do this, I need to make sure that update animation is being used and not add. Adding it will just give me the bones and not associate them with the original biped. Also, make sure your biped is not in figure mode.

Once imported and the animation updated, I can then select the biped and save this animation as a .bip. With this I can apply it to any .bip character I have. Note, there will, as with all premade animations, probably be some adjustments and tweaking, but this can be done on a new biped animation layer.

Anyway, with this, I was able to get a simple intro animation done for one of MerFight’s characters relatively quickly. Is it perfect? No, but it was a lot faster than trying to do it by hand, and again, though I like animating in 3D, I enjoy and have more success with short animations instead of longer ones. I mostly wrote this for myself so I can remember these steps in the future, but if anyone finds this useful or has comments, feel free to contact me and let me know. Thanks for reading.