Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Did Mixamo solve the animation problem?

At the time of writing, all commercial services at Mixamo are down following their purchase by Adobe. In the meantime, their animation system is in demo mode. And it looks like Blender support improved. Let's have a look.

A first run with Mixamo

(21:40) I exported my model (obj format) from Blender. I decided to only use the .obj since I don't have textures.

(21:52) Auto-rigging config is manual but placing joints only takes a couple of minutes (really). Then according to a caption, it will take about 2 minutes for auto-rig to complete.

(22:04) Chose a few basic animations. Plays nice in preview, now I would like to export them. Go My Assets and select Collada as export format. Oh well. This proved to be somewhat fiddly as I needed to checkout animations. Although their shop is down this is still doable.

(22:12) Let's try to export these animations. Choosing collada, non uniform frame reduction

(22:37) I could get my model and animations back into blender but the export results looked weird.

(22:49) After fiddling for a bit, I somehow established a correct import configuration.

  • Correct DAE export for blender requires exporting with skin and no keyframe compression
  • On some animations (typically, walking, running, ...) check 'in place' to prevent the model from moving while animating.

Mixamo is a complete animation solution. It seems to work pretty good, especially with humanoid characters.
Auto-rigging isn't a feature that I absolutely need, and I'm not sure how it would fare with complex meshes. Apparently, it works.

  • Good performance in web client.
  • Blender import actually works.
  • Free stuff
  • Their animation collection is big, not huge. Maybe enough to prototype stuff and create a AA game.
  • High number of keyframes may be affecting file size.
  • In Blender
    • Animations need to be imported separately
    • Rig and model import with each animation.
    • Animations get in with incorrect names.
    • Models get in wrongly scaled
    • Inept rigs
    • One key frame per frame?
Until then...

Adobe purchased Mixamo, pulling the plug on sale services without a go-live date. They also pulled the plug on Mixamo's UAS (Unity Asset Store integration) so it's overall a very bad time to invest time and effort into Mixamo; more so considering that, it's hard to believe that Adobe will encourage improving Blender integration. Casual devs will welcome the fact that some of their tools and services (10 rigs, 20 animations) for free while they transition into the unknown.

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