TUTORIAL – Zbrush blend shapes

zbrush tutorial face animation mocap
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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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