TUTORIAL – Zbrush blend shapes

zbrush tutorial face animation mocap

Tutorial – Learn how to animate face from Zbrush and use it for facial motion capture

In today’s tutorial, we’re going show you how to create blendshapes in Zbrush or any other sculpting software and then bring these blendshapes back into Maya and connect them with MocapX.

First, let’s open Zbrush with a sculpt of a basic head. We need to create blendshapes.  Let’s go to Zplugins, and under Maya Blend Shapes, click create new. Now, if we go to the layers tab, we can see a new layer. Let’s rename this to eyeBlink_L.

Now we will shape the geometry. So let’s select the Move brush and shape the pose. If we are finished, we can see the blendshape by moving the slider. Let’s continue and create a blink for the right eye. So go to the blendshape tab. Click create new. Now we can see another layer. Let’s call it eyeBlink_R. Now let’s do the same for the right eye.

facial mocap how it works
If you go to Mocapx.com section for documentation, you can find a list of all poses that need to be done for the best result. To speed up the tutorial, we are going to open a Zbrush file where we already created all the blendshapes. You can see the result by setting the value to 1. If we are done with it, go to the Zplugin menu – Maya Blend Shapes – and press Export Blend Shapes. Now Maya is open, and in the outliner, we can find the head with already connected blendshapes. If we select the head’s geometry and go to the Channel box, under blendshape there is a list of them. You can also create blendshapes in Maya or import them from any other 3d application like 3ds max, blender, or others. Now we are ready to connect MocapX data to the blendshapes. First, we need to create a real-time device. If we go to the attribute editor, we can choose either Wi-Fi or USB. If you have the MocapX app on your iPhone or iPad Pro running, just click on connect, and Maya will connect the app. Now we need to open the connection editor. On the left side, we’re going to load the Real-Time device, and on the Right side, we’re going to select and load our blendshape. Now we simply connect one by one by name. You can speed things up with our script that we included in the description bellow.
facial mocap maya editor

Now we are live streaming data to our character. Let’s add the head movement. So select the geometry and load it on the right side. Now we will connect: translate and rotate from the Real-Time device to our head. So we’ve added the translate and rotate.

The last step is to add the eye movement. Let’s select the left eye. Load it on the right side and connect the rotation from Real-Time. Now let’s do the same for the Right eye. Now lets record some data for the clip. Go to the Realtime device, select a 15 sec clip, and hit record. By doing this, we record the past 15 second to clip. Next, let’s preview the clip.

So we will select a Mocap node. Create a Clip reader and load that clip. If we go to the time slider, we can now scrub and see our clip. If we switch to Real-Time again, we’re still streaming from the iPhone. If we go back to the Clip reader and select the head, we can use our Baking tool for baking data from the clip to an fbx file. Now we can export this animation as an fbx to Unity or Render in Maya.

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TUTORIAL – MocapX and Advanced Skeleton

Tutorial – Learn how to use MocapX and Advanced Skeleton rig

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to use the advanced skeleton rig or any other custom facial Rig together with MocapX. We will start by downloading an example Rig from the advanced skeleton page. You can use any of these rigs, but we’re just going to choose this one.

Now if we open Maya, we can see that the facial Rig has a combination of several different types of controllers. Some are on the face itself others are on a separate picker with other attributes such as blinking.

The way it works is that it transfers the facial expression which is captured on iPhone onto the Rig controllers. For this, we use the Poselib Editor to match these Expressions. The idea is that the rig should end up with keyframes directly on the controller’s just as an animator would use classic keyframe animation. This, in general, gives the animator a chance to work efficiently with the motion capture data and still have the ability to do keyframe animation.

facial mocap how it works

So let’s start with creating poses for this character. Make sure that you have a natural or relaxed face with open eyes as your default pose. This will always be our Base pose. We’ll start by selecting all the controllers on the head and create an attribute collection which stores all the channels. Next, we will make our first pose which is a left eye blink. We’ll take the controller and shape the eye into a blink.

We can use all the controllers for the attribute collection. Once we are done, we can click the button for creating the pose. Now if we open the Poselib editor, the first pose is created. We can use the slider and move it to see our pose. Let’s rename it to EyeBlink_L. 

Now let’s do the right eye. First, we need to go back to default. Now let’s shape the right eye blink and click the button again. Now we can see both our poses. It’s similar to blend shapes but done with controllers. If you name the poses according to the description, you can later use the auto-connect feature to match them with the data from your iPhone. 

Let’s speed up the tutorial and open a scene where all our poses have already been set. If we open the Poselib editor we can see a list of all our poses.

So now we’re ready to create a real-time device. If we go to the attribute editor, we can choose either Wi-Fi or USB. If you have the MocapX app running just click on connect and Maya will connect the app. If we go to the Poselib editor now we can click on auto connect to preview data from the iPhone. Now we’re live streaming motion capture data directly into Maya and onto our character. 

Next, we want to record some action. If we take a look at the real-time device in the attribute editor, there is a recording option. The way Mocapx works is it continuously record all the action, and you can make a clip and save it at any time.

So let’s make a clip that lasts about 10 seconds. Now let’s preview our clip. For this, we go to the MocapX node in the attribute editor and create a clip reader. Now we can switch between real-time and clip.

So let’s load the clip. If we go over our time slider, we can see the data plate on our character. Next, let’s and the head movement.

This time we will not use the Poselib editor, but we will directly connect the data to the character. So let’s open the connection editor. We’ll load the clip reader on the left and the controller on the right, which is responsible for the head rotation. Now, we simply connect translation and rotation. We’ve added the head rotation. Let’s add the translation as well. Now if we open the connection editor, we can connect our translation channels as well. We can see the head is moving forward too much. Let’s fix that.

facial mocap maya editor

MocapX has the ability to set keyframes over the motion capture data. We’ll select our controllers.Simply create a key and move the head into the correct position. We can also make multiple keyframes. This can be done for any controller. So for example, we can select the eyebrows. Find a frame where you want to fix the animations. We’ll add a keyframe to the start and another one to the end. 

Now we’ll make a correction between those two keyframes. By doing this, the animator can quickly and easily tweak the animation. We can use a similar technique to connect the eyes as the head. For this, we have a separate tutorial

The final step of working with MocapX is to bake the motion capture down. To bake the animation we use our baking tool. Simply select all the controllers for the head and press the bake button.

Now you can continue with any standard Maya animation tool. That’s it for this tutorial. Thank you for watching.