autodesk-realistic-game

Making realistic game characters: rigging and body deformation

Designing compelling 3D characters for your video game is one thing; making sure they look and behave realistically is another. From leveraging motion capture data and retargeting animation with Maya, to choosing an A-pose over a T-pose during development, Santa Monica Studio went the extra mile to ensure that their characters look, feel, and act real. Here are a few best practices from a GDC 2019 presentation by the studio’s Lead Character Technical Artist, Axel Grossman, for making realistic game characters.

Producing animation with mocap

Use motion capture

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

In getting your characters ready for battle, nothing beats motion capture instead of hand-keying movements. In the case of God of War, MotionBuilder was used for its speed and ability to use real-time camera work. A transfer-rig matching Maya’s coordinates was utilized, allowing for objects baked in MotionBuilder to be imported directly onto nodes in Maya, allowing for scenes to be built in MotionBuilder.

Make use of animation retargeting

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Animating character cycles one by one? Ain’t nobody got time for that! One tool you can take advantage of to speed up this process is an animation retargeter, which allows you to swap out characters and maintain the same animation cycle.

Striking a realistic pose

Using Pose Space Deformation (PSD) and Radial Basis Functions (RBF)

For your character to feel real, they need to act out the part in each of their movements. Simply choosing an A-pose over a T-pose can have an impact on how realistic your character’s movements are, with A-poses making for a more natural appearance and proper shoulder height. Pose Space Deformation (PSD nodes) uses Radial Basis Functions (RBF) to ensure that poses are properly blended from movement to movement.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

For the making of God of War at Santa Monica Studios, PSD was used primarily for muscle corrections for Kratos and Baldur, facial fixups and corrections. RBF, on the other hand, is about correcting poses, moving joints around. In the case of God of War, it was used for armor deformation on Kratos and other heavily armored characters, such as The Traveler, some props and environment rigging, and Freya’s hair.

Rigging and body deformation

Remember driver coverage

When it comes to making sure that props and objects in your environment act according to your character’s movements, you’ll want to keep driver coverage in mind. Drivers are basically our way of representing the field on which the poses play. Without proper driver coverage, you can fall out of your pose space and get pops and visual glitches. Using a ROM (range of movement), you can determine all the spaces where something can move.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Without proper driver coverage, you risk running into problem areas on your characters.

Build dependencies for body deformation

You’ll want a system or hierarchy in place for body deformation so that all your world space matrices allow for your character to easily call up their poses. This might involve deforming by clavicle first, then humerus, then clavicle and humerus together.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Traditional skeletal hierarchies combined with linear skinning lose volume. When it comes to body deformation, keeping your character in its pose space becomes an increasingly greater challenge. Linear skinning can cause things like a peck or deltoid popping out and becoming fat and round when it should be thinning out during a movement of the clavicle.

Image courtesy of Santa Monica Studio

Focus on areas most visible to the camera

When rigging your character, you’ll want to pay extra attention to areas that undergo a high degree of rotation, for example, twisting along bone axes such as the shoulder (where you can get the candy-wrapper effect) and other areas most visible to the camera, like the neck.

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What’s New in 3ds Max

See how 3ds Max has evolved since 2016!

3ds Max has provided you many updates over the years, and we will continue to deliver to you top quality updates, for better performance and improved workflows.

Click on the image below to get a glimpse at what we have been up to.

Bringing your ideas to life

Autodesk is committed to responding quickly to 3ds Max user feedback. That’s why this release includes many of which were submitted by the 3ds Max user community at 3dsmaxfeedback.autodesk.com.

3ds-Max-2020

3ds Max 2020.1 Feature Updates

Autodesk 3ds Max 2020.1 is focused on enhancing your workflow by delivering you modernized tools such as keyboard shortcut management and detachable viewports. Plus, building upon our 2020 release chamfer modifier feedback, we have polished and provided an additional update to bring you a more predictable tool.

Detachable Viewports

Enhance your workspace experience by extending your viewports across various monitors.

Watch as 3ds Max team member Ken Larue takes you through the details:

Highlights:

  • Leverage multi-monitor set-up and float up to three additional viewport panels across multiple monitors
  • Each viewport panel can be separately configured

Updated default keyboard shortcuts and improved hotkey management

Easily customize, merge, and visualize shortcuts keys with a new hotkey system and hotkey editor tool.

Watch as 3ds Max team member Brent Scannell takes you through the details:

Highlights:

  • New Hotkey Editor tool replaces the Keyboard tab in the Customize User Interface dialog
  • Search for action by keywords or by current hotkey assignments
  • Clear current assignments and conflicts with undo history
  • Filter actions by current customization status, and by groups
  • Migrate legacy keyboard shortcut files without missing out on updates to the defaults
  • User hotkey settings are saved separately from defaults in a dedicated and accessible User Settings folder
  • Configuration selector allows easy and quick switching between hotkey sets

Chamfer modifier improvement

Building upon our 2020 Update users’ feedback, receive even more efficient and predictable modeling options.

Watch as 3ds Max team member Martin Coven takes you through the details:

Highlights:

  • By Weight chamfer type provides absolute weight on an edge, altering the shape of the mitered corners
  • Scale spinner globally multiplies the Weight values in the scale amount
  • Crease Weight averages between connecting edges provide a varying width over a span of edges
  • Depth Weighting allows control on a per-edge basis
  • Depth Type combobox features Fixed and By Weight which hides the modifiers spinner and fetches per-edge depth values from the mesh channel.
  • Depth spinner has been added to Edit/able Poly in the Edit Edges Rollout under Crease and Ribbon in the Edge Panel.
  • Radius Bias will alter shape of the chamfer in areas where there are acute corners, making them more uniform.
  • Spinner blends the chamfer size to the radius amount to handle sharp corners.

Additional Improvements

New Double-click selection allows you to be efficient and faster while modeling.

– Support added for EditablePoly, EditPoly modifier, EditableSpline and EditSpline modifier.​​

– Works with Unwrap UVW in both UV Editor and 3d viewports.​

– Includes modifier hotkeys to add selection or subtract selection and works in Maya Interaction mode​

– Objects to select all contiguous faces, verts, segments, etc.

Command Panel Improvements allow you to switch between different Edit Poly modes 70% faster

– Autocomplete for MAXScript is on by default in the MAXScript editor and works out-of-the-box.

– The new generateAPIList <stringstream> MAXScript API makes it easier to enable
autocomplete for MAXScript in 3rd party editors.