There are no shortcuts to good animation...but there are some ways to use Mixamo to make it easier.
Let’s be honest. 3D character modeling, rigging, and animation is a rabbit hole! You and your clients don’t always have the time and budget to train, achieve, and fulfill your/their goals completing something so vast so soon. What if I told you Mixamo can make animation easier? Hold on tight, I’m about to lighten up your workload.
Mixamo takes out the hard work with an auto rigging system, pre-modeled 3D characters, pre-recorded animation, and in-app animation customization.
In this article, we'll explore 4 ways Mixamo makes animation easier:
- Mixamo rigs your characters for you
- Mixamo has a huge roster of pre-made/pre-rigged characters
- Mixamo maintains and updates a collection of pre-recorded animations
- Mixamo makes it easy to tweak animations to for your style
- And more!
Mixamo can rig your characters for you
Rigging is a skill that not all mographers have the time or patience to acquire.Mixamo saves the day with its simple to use auto-rig system—a real game changer if you have a deadline looming. All characters that exist in the Mixamo library are already rigged. If you want to bring in your own creations, it's just a few simple steps. Here’s how to use Mixamo to rig your own 3D Character:
- Create your own character in a 3D package of your choice and save it out as a OBJ file.
- Open Mixamo from your web browser.
- Sign in FREE with either your Adobe Subscription, or create an account.
- Click upload character and upload your OBJ file.
- If Mixamo accepts your character, you will be able to click next.
- Follow the instructions and place markers where instructed. Floating markers will result in an error and Mixamo will reject it and you will start again. If your character is fingerless, click on the dropdown menu labelled standard skeleton (65) and choose No Fingers (25)
- Click next, and it should take approximately 2 minutes to rig your character
Boom! Your character is rigged!
Mixamo has its own library of pre-modelled characters
Unless you are a talented 3D modeller, most of your models look like Aardman’s 70s TV show character Morph. Not that that’s a bad thing, but sometimes you need that realistic polished model that suits the style of your current project! Mixamo has a huge and growing library of pre modelled characters for you to choose from.
Here are the steps to choosing a character in Mixamo:
- Click on Characters
- A list of characters will appear.
- Type in the search bar to specify your search as not all characters are visible.
- Change the per page amount to 96 to widen your range.
With Adobe's new 3D workflow, you'll be able to create your own custom assets with little modeling experience. Mixamo is constantly updating, so stay tuned for news about how it will integrate with future software updates.
Mixamo has a library of free pre-recorded animations for your characters
Animating characters is an artform. But when you move from animating 2D characters in After Effects to 3D characters, you better invest in a 2nd swear jar. Mixamo takes the hard work out with a huge library of pre recorded mocap animation to choose from.
Here are the steps to choosing an animation in Mixamo:
- Click on Animations
- A list of pre-recorded animations will appear.
- Type in the search bar to specify your search as not all animations are visible.
- Change the per page amount to 96 to widen your range.
- Click on the animation of your choice and the animation will be added to your character on the right. If you want to choose a different animation, simply just click on a new animation.
- Blue dummies are represented as male animations. Red dummies are represented as female animations. Mix it up, the results are pretty comical!
Mixamo allows you to tweak your animations to fit your style
Not only are the choices for the animation libraries large, but you are able to adjust each animation individually. This is great when you want to further customise your animation, rather than having that straight out the box look, that will look like everybody else’s animation.
Here are the steps to customising your animation in Mixamo:
- Each animation has its own set of custom parameters that you can tweak.
- Parameters list from energy, arm height, overdrive, character arm-space, trim, reaction, posture, step width, head turn, lean, funniness, target height, hit intensity, distance, enthusiasm etc.
- Dial up the slider and the poses or actions either get more extreme or faster.
- Dial down the slider and the poses do the latter.
- The mirror checkbox flips the characters pose and animations.
Mixamo makes it easy to download your character
Now all that is left to do is download your character. Make sure you’re happy with your choice, as you don’t want to waste time redoing it again.
Here’s how you can download characters from Mixamo:
- Under Characters, click download
- Choose your format, skin, frame rate, frame reduction.
- Click download
Want to dive deeper into Mixamo & Mocap animation?
Want to learn how to rig and then animate characters using Mixamo? Check out this article where I go over each step of the process using Cinema 4D. Or maybe you want to record your own mocap? In this article I lay out a DIY approach to 3D character animation with homemade motion capture.
Not familiar with Cinema 4D?
Get started with sensei EJ Hassenfratz’s awesome course Cinema 4D Basecamp.Already a black belt Shodan in Cinema 4D? Become Grandmaster Jugodan with EJ’s advanced course Cinema 4D Ascent