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Enhanced Character Animation with Mixamo in Cinema 4D R21
New Mixamo Character Rig in C4D R21 Enables Easy Applying, Adjusting and Mixing of Mocap Data
Mixamo allows you to rapidly create, rig and animate unique characters for your design projects — and with the addition of the Mixamo Control Rig to Release 21 of Cinema 4D there's now a powerful, streamlined process for leveraging Mixamo's animated characters in your C4D motion designs.
Previously, we demonstrated how to rig and apply motion capture data and extra hand-keyframed animation to your 3D character with Mixamo in Cinema 4D; in this tutorial from our 3D Creative Director and Cinema 4D Basecamp instructor EJ Hassenfratz, we break down the new and improved way to use Mixamo characters and animations in the latest version of C4D.
The Mixamo Control Rig Tutorial Video
The Mixamo Control Rig Tutorial Project Files
To follow along, download the project files used in EJ's tutorial video.
Download the Free Mixamo Cinema 4D Project FileDownload Goodies
Nine Steps to Mastering the Mixamo Control Rig in Cinema 4D R21
With Adobe Mixamo, you can:
- Automatically rig your 3D character, allowing Mixamo to calculate skinning weights and adjust bones on your behalf
- Select from thousands of customizable motion-tracked animations, using Mixamo's editing interface to fine tune the animation to your specs
Then, you can import your Mixamo character into Cinema 4D for use in your motion design project.
Below, we walk you through the nine steps you'll take when using Mixamo's characters and animations.
1. Choose Your Character
At the top of the Mixamo website are two tabs: Characters; and Animations. To select your character, click the Characters tab and then pick from the collection of zombies, robots, goblins, medieval knights and others.
2. Choose Your Character Animation
To choose a starting animation for your selected character, click the Animations tab. Then, scroll through the more than 50 pages of pre-set character animations, and pick the one that best fits the role of your character in your motion design. Do you want them to fall over? Swing a sword? Drunk stumble? Mixamo's got it.
This is a helpful resource for developing quick mockups to preview for your clients what they can expect to see in your scene.
3. Download Your Character
Once you've decided on your character and animation, you'll want to import them into Cinema 4D. To do this, you'll need the file.
Click the Download button at the top right of the Mixamo screen, and you should see the following dialog box popup:
For the purposes of this tutorial, at least, there's no need to adjust the default settings. Click the orange button to download your .fbx file.
4. Import Your .Fbx File in Cinema 4D
To start working with your Mixamo character in Cinema 4D, launch the C4D app. Then, click to view the File menu, click Open, and navigate through your file browser to find and select your recently downloaded .fbx character file.
The following Import Settings prompt will pop up:
Leave the settings as they are, and click OK.
The Mixamo model should now appear in your Cinema 4D scene and, if you press Play, your character should act out your chosen animation.
5. Set Up the Mixamo Control Rig in C4D
In earlier versions of Cinema 4D, the process of animating imported characters was laborious, to say the least. To bend a single joint, you had to navigate through your entire layer hierarchy.
Not anymore. In Release 21, there are three steps to prepping your C4D workflow:
A. Fix the Take Layer B. Reset the Character Rig Pose C. Disable the Animation Track
5A. FIX THE TAKE LAYER
When importing a Mixamo rig, it's uploaded as a Take Layer; to start editing, using keyframes, this needs to be changed.
To do so, click the Take tab on the right side of your user interface. Find and select only the Mixamo.com layer, then open the File tab and click Current Take to New Document. This will open a new project file.
5B. RESET THE CHARACTER RIG POSE
The next step in preparing your rig for use is changing the pose.
Select both of your weight tags in the Objects panel and then click the Reset Bind Pose button. This will produce the T pose.
5C. DISABLE THE ANIMATION TRACK
The third and final step is disabling (not deleting) the keyframes used to animate your downloaded Mixamo character.
To disable an animation in Cinema 4D, open the Window tab and click Timeline (Dope Sheet).
In the Timeline window, find your model's layer and click the yellow film strip. This will disable the animation.
6. Apply Mixamo Controls in Cinema 4D
To start animating your Mixamo character in Cinema 4D, you'll first need to apply the Mixamo Control Rig.
Navigate to the Character tab at the top of the program window, and select Character. Then, to access the controls, select the Character object in the Objects panel at the top right, and select the Object tag in the Attributes tab at the bottom.
7. Add Mixamo Leg and Arm Controllers
Next, use the Mixamo Control Rig template to add the necessary components for animating.
In the Attributes tab, select the Object tab. Then, in the Object Properties tab, select the Build tab.
Hold CMD/CTRL + SHIFT to add legs and then, still in the Build tab, click CMD/CNTRL to create arms and hands.
8. Align Your Character Controls
When a Mixamo Control Rig is imported into Cinema 4D, the bone structure is straight, so C4D doesn't know which way the rig should bend.
To set your joints, start — with your character still selected — by clicking the Adjust tab within the Object tab. Your controllers should snap to your joints, automatically retargeting the Mixamo Control Rig component controls to the Mixamo joint rig.
Next, click the Binding tab next to the Adjust tab, and delete the object in this tab.
Then, to set your joints, independently of the rest of the rig, hold down the 7 key and move your joints in the direction you want them to bend.
9. Retarget the Mixamo Controls to the Mixamo Rig
The last step to setting the Mixamo Control Rig to control your rig in Cinema 4D is to connect the Character object to the Mixamo joint rig.
To do so, click the Character object and then select the Root object. With that object selected, navigate to the Attributes window, then the Control tab, and click Retarget All. This establishes the relationship between the Control Rig and the joints — but not the character geometry, since the weight tags on the joints are not yet properly referenced.
To transfer the weights of the joints to the Mixamo Control Rig, select the Root object and then click the Controls tab. Then, drag and drop Character Mesh into the Weight Tags field and click Transfer Weights to apply the changes.
Now we have the Mixamo Control Rig controlling and deforming the rig!
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Adding 3D to your toolkit is one of the best ways to up your value and expand your capabilities as a motion designer.
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