Sunday, 15 March 2015

Week 24- There's More than One way to Skin a Rabbit

So this week definitely did not go as expected. On Monday I was at the stage where my 3D White Rabbit model was complete, and unwrapped, ready to skin to a rig.

I knew the rigging stage of this would be difficult, but not for the reasons that I originally thought. I assumed that getting physics to work on the ears of my character would have been the main issue of this process. However I found that the initial rigging is a pain, as trying to get the skinned mesh to export properly into the Unreal Engine 4 and be able to  use the default animations provided in the engine is annoyingly difficult.

 I researched getting my model into engine and skinning it so me mesh could use the default UE4 animations. Unfortunately as it stands there were no clear step by step videos or documentation that could tell me how to do this. Most of the information I gathered would only work in Maya and the UE4 plugins made for that programme. After searching I could piece together enough information to get my model working in engine as the main player (So I can run and jump around a map as the White Rabbit). I imported the UE4 skeleton into 3Ds Max so I could skin my model to it for testing, however that proved to be difficult throughout the week. One of the problems is that there are Iks helpers and bone twist included in the UE4 skeleton, components that I had never come across before, and I assumed that they were just extras bones to weight, when actually they don't need to be weighted to the mesh. they're just there to help animation.

After beginning to rig my mesh from the UE4 skeleton I found that for some reason my mesh wouldn't skin properly,  It would stay in its t-pose regardless of the vertices weights I assigned to the mesh. For some reason this didn't matter with the legs,but not matter what I did the arms/shoulder area just would not rig. I also checked the weight of the ue4 mesh, which were similar to my own, and the position of the mesh before skinning was also in the T-pose. Despite all this my model's arms were still not working.
UE4 default player mesh

My mesh rigged to the UE4 Skeleton
 As I was near the end of the week at that time I didn't want to end up using a regular biped and animating this guy in 3ds Max since I'd already spent a lot of my time on this and didn't want to just give up and make it a waste, so I compromised. On Friday I replaced the UE4 skeleton with a  3Ds Max biped I however kept the same level of bones and the same names for said bones so UE4 would register it as the same skeleton (minus the IK helpers). I did this to hopefully fix any of the skinning issues I had with the original UE4 skeleton, but if not I could use this new skeleton to animate new movement sequences for the rabbit, as oppose to using the default animations. Here Is where I'm at:

As you can see the White Rabbit has T-Rex Arms....

As bad as this looks, I'm actually very close to getting this done (I hope) I just need to figure out why the arms are put in that position in UE4, they properly deform, there's just something off with the skeleton placement. I'd aimed to get this all finished and ready in engine by the end of the week, now with all of the problems I've come across I'm unsure of time frames. I'm going to attempt to fix this over the next day or two and hope it goes well, as I can't spend next week animating this from scratch if I can't get this to work. I have a hunch that exporting my mesh in the idle pose rather than a T-pose might fix this, but we'll see.

Onwards to next week!

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