Thoughts about 'Them Bones...'


#1

Hello to all :smile:

I would like to thank all of you for all the information available here which has helped me get my noob head around whats new in the world of rigging avatars.

I come from the ZX Spectrum generation, much like @Judas I spent my youth 'coding’ stuff like breakout in Basic from back of magazines. For many years I was out of touch with computers, but always been an artist/modeller.

It was SL which blew my imagination open wide, and like many I wanted to build and create things, first with prims, then with mesh… Particularly wanted to make moving characters.

Eventually, after growing some grey hairs and learning a thing or two about modelling packages i managed this a couple years ago [please don’t laugh]:

The idea was that if I could make custom mesh characters, I could make a machinima animation which would escape the normal avi type altogether- like a 3D cartoon using SL for the mechanics to hang my creations on saving me having to learn rigging/animation from the bottom up… Just trying to model was enough for now!

I gave up after making Acid Cat …

I wanted his jaw to move, and his eyes to turn just like the standard avi could…

Although I played with the idea of moving the jaw with a script purchased from marketplace, it never quite responded to sounds via mic properly… so my animation plans began to come apart and perhaps Acid Cat and Mauski would never frolic with mad moving eyes and mic responsive jaws, this gave the cat the blues as you can see…

So here I am looking at hifi and wondering if things might be different… I’m prepared to learn how to make my own armatures, I would have so done long ago if I’d thought SL would have worked with them, but it seemed only the standard avi skeleton could be used to parent mesh to, and it was flawed.

I know from what I have read that currently - the Mixamo avi’s are currently ‘aligned’ in terms of how the bones hang in 3D space in hifi [forgive my lack of full understanding and terms]. I read that one can drop a mixamo avi via Fuse, into hifi more easily because the orientation of the bones in either realm is the same, to me this part is the crucial part.

My musings have brought me to a point where I’m wondering, would any properly designed bone system, built in Blender or whatever be compatible in hifi if certain positions/orientations of joints were adhered to?

For example, I build [in Blender] a typical human armature of superhero proportions to suit my basemesh, careful to make sure the joints are talking the same language as mixamo ones in hifi. would it move fine inworld? would the proportions ‘snap to suit’ the mixamo type proportions? If so could sliders be used to return to superhuman proportions?

It seems so far - everyone is looking mixamo… or if not they are moved via mixamo skeleton rules.

I have made a kind of superhuman mesh WIP I’d like to bring into hifi,

Its far too dense in Polys atm, I’ll more than likely have to re-topologise - what would be the right target range for density on a human ? is 10K acceptable these days?

Still much work needed on facial forms, fingers and toes… I did work some more refined head / facial features on a separate duplicate of this guy.

Presumably all I need to do now is follow a blender tutorial or 3… [some great [tough] ones on these forums already i know]… Thus I make the bones/armature properly, including facial bones.
I know… I’m going to a new hard place!!
But once rigged in blender, can my figure be ‘driven’ by hifi fairly easily - how can i make sure hifi understands ‘Them Bones?’

Like Plato once thought with his ‘ideals’ is it not possible to have the underlying form of the ‘ideal avatar’ in terms of joints, positions rotations for all the bones agreed upon for creators to work with? Then we have some common understanding, like an ‘Adam and Eve’ of bone/joint positions and rotations which could be altered to some degree, or morphed to provide variations in human type [ectomorphic vs endomorphic body types, elves or trolls].

Hypothetically, I make my custom superhero mesh to suit ‘Adams’ ideal bone proportions and drop it on - it works! - if his proportions are adjusted to be slightly more like a normal human in process, i can fix with sliders. This almost worked with SL, but i could never get faces responding to mic. Also the SL skeleton was fixed in space as T-Pose, legs together, more awkward to fit/skin/weight a nice human to it, A-pose seems more intuitive.

I guess my idea is that if there’s an agreed ‘ideal’ hifi armature and bone system, which has easily customizable/movable joint locations to account for variations [like satyrs and demons], then we are all free to dress that armature with whatever we like… It would be possible to do a pixar style human or a realistic human mesh to be driven by same rules in hifi even though their eyes aren’t in exactly the same location due to style. I could be way wrong here, but I’m new to all this.

I hope you are all kind enough to accommodate my rather rambling post, which essentially is backing up the idea that if we have an agreed, default humanoid/bipedal armature system, with the ability to customize [for example size of /distance between eyes], we are free to start bringing in our meshes with some certaintly that they will move in hifi. For now I’m overwhelmed still by the amount of programs/options from what I have read.

I’ll post as I learn more here about these things, It would be great to establish a clear route from mesh creation to moving and working in hifi for those of only intermediate technical knowledge. I can make a human form and make it well, I can re-topologise to make it efficient but what is the next best step in application and workflow from there to get it moving?

Lastly - I can’t find much in the way of tutorials for hifi/interface on youtube, where can I see a bunch of getting started inworld/building related tuts?

Thanks for taking the time to read, apologies if it’s a bit waffly and amateurish :smile:

Arch.


#2

Super proportionate Post we have here, let me try to answer your questions in a single post:

First of all, welcome to High Fidelity :slight_smile: Everyone here is still starting out and discovering new things, and pulling grey hair in frustration during crashes and occasionally issues that may pop up.

I suggest taking a peek of all the stuff I’ve dotted down on the specifics on the current situation especially when exporting from Blender:
https://alphas.highfidelity.io/t/woes-of-blender-rigged-fbx-export-at-the-mountains-of-documentation-madness/4739

I’m wondering, would any properly designed bone system, built in Blender or whatever be compatible in hifi if certain positions/orientations of joints were adhered to?

Currently there are issues with the bone rotation methods inherit in the FBX Reader (In Engine). Blender exports in a specific rotation standard (3D Max way), while High Fidelity uses another ( The Maya way) the FBX file format is apparently infamous for this annoyance. This is only a theory of mine, but it seems fixing this in either end solves this issue, but more likely High Fidelity could do this fix like Unity and Epic have already done…

Otherwise, animations you create will work, but do not expect cross compatibility currently with avatars made with Maya (which currently is most animation scripts and the sort) or with the current versions of the proceedural generated animations.

The Mixamo Skeleton otherwise works fine, so far, and its a considerably decent standard for bone animations. Shapekey animations are not yet supported, but the shapekeys them selves are used by Faceshift, which can allow you to track your own face using a webcam and the DDE software to play back specific shapes for the avatar.

Its far too dense in Polys atm, I’ll more than likely have to re-topologise - what would be the right target range for density on a human ? is 10K acceptable these days?

Yes 10k is Okay, but do remember that you have to host the files your self. Better optimization leads to better bandwidth management :smiley: IMO: Aiming for an average of 7k: most of it going on the face.

But once rigged in blender, can my figure be ‘driven’ by hifi fairly easily - how can i make sure hifi understands ‘Them Bones?’

As long as you adhere to the naming conventions and basic rotations of bones, this should work straight out of the box. Just beware that as of the moment the FBX rotation type from blender does not work with High Fidelity, there is a worklist on the topic but it hasnt been pushed forward as of yet (I hope they take it internally soon) ( https://worklist.net/20467 ) As of the moment only rotations of animations is being applied, but later on scaling and translation will also be applied.

You can however make custom bones as well and custom bone positions (I have a fennec running around after all), but these will require you to animate by hand and figure out an animation system for them (a way to animate depending on situation via scripts).

Also the SL skeleton was fixed in space as T-Pose, legs together, more awkward to fit/skin/weight a nice human to it, A-pose seems more intuitive.

I agree, and nothing is stopping your from using A-pose, but again its dependent on what will be the predominant animation rig used.

It would be great to establish a clear route from mesh creation to moving and working in hifi for those of only intermediate technical knowledge.

This will be probably addressed as soon as we get the FBX reading sorted out, which is causing havoc with the standards as of the moment: this may take a while, after all we are in alpha so stuff may break.

Lastly - I can’t find much in the way of tutorials for hifi/interface on youtube, where can I see a bunch of getting started inworld/building related tuts?

Currently there are only a small handful, most to do with fixing Make Human avatars, Caching or getting Basic Faceshift stuff working. There are no cohesive tutorial video yet as again work in progress :slight_smile:

https://alphas.highfidelity.io/t/creating-and-rigging-an-avatar-with-blendshapes-in-makehuman/5451



Some are listed by High Fidelity them selves can be found at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoe9GsfO1mjlNMVafqtCVBHPd16Zl0nEc

Unfortunately, as we are in alpha, the client gets updated at a such a rate, the tutorial videos can quickly get outdated which is why they may not be publicly listed on youtube.


#3

Thank you kindly @Menithal for your response. Certainly you have helped my baffled mind ease a little. It seems for now I’ll concentrate on making my human basemeshes more efficient with retopology, ready for when the whole FBX thing settles down.

Also I would like to play around with the mixamo skeleton/bones - is there a file available somewhere to play with in blender already ?

Thanks again, much appreciated!

Arch.


#4

You can import any of the marketplace avatars you may find. I suggest trying out the Sintel one since thats the freshest. Just make sure you import with pre-post and using the latest version of blender)
http://public.highfidelity.io/ozan/avatars/sintel/sintel_v4/sintel.fbx

Pay also some attention to the fst file as that usually binds the joints / shapekeys to faceshift (You can open these with a text editor)
http://public.highfidelity.io/ozan/avatars/sintel/sintel_v4.fst

You can also use a blend file I made earlier (of sintel, @Ozan beat me to it though… ) , but note that the weight painting is completely off, and the thumb rotation (not sure if due the rotation issues, is off) http://www.norteclabs.com/HF/labs/sintel/sintel_lite_high-fidelity-mod.blend


#5

Somewhere around here @Menithal posted his version of sintel i recocmeend downloading that, deleting the avatar from the rig adding in your amazing looking guy , parent the avatar to the mesh with automatic weights and just t seeing what happens as a starting point, we have no official upload charges tho i am willing to let u pay me directly through paypal at judas@moneymakingscam.com

re them bones i have spent the last 5 hours twiddling my thumbs trying to make my bloody thumbs work properly
i need a better brain mine seems damaged.
the dancing mouse is by far the best thing i saw ever btw


#6

@Judas: Which is why I did say it might be related to the rest of the issues with exported orientations :slight_smile: I’m not gonna bother with them until HiFi checks those rotations.


#7

Hehe… Glad you liked Mauski @Judas:smile:

OK this is great! I uploaded the second sintel into latest Blender which @Menithal posted above - the first gave errors. I can see what he meant by the weights being off in a few areas, but otherwise it seems pretty good.

I was just thinking, well - surely I can just get rid of all the sintel ‘flesh’ and bring in my Dr Manhattanish generic dude and do exactly as you just said…!

I’m going to try that and see what happens … Much obliged !


#8

sighs i know but deep down i feel if i copy whats going on in the ron avatar body which has hands that work, then it must be hackable


#9

Yes, yes you can :smile: the base skeleton is sound, other than the rotation export/import issues I mentioned that won’t be fixed until the reader or the blender export is fixed.


#10

Nice post @Arch.Stanton and great, that one more dos think about bones and Blender. Maybe my thread, also can give you some ideas to this theme. https://alphas.highfidelity.io/t/what-i-have-learned-today/4597/41


#11

Thanks @summer4me… I read your thread about bones and posing inworld, great stuff! made things clearer still for me :smile:


#12

Update:

I’m a little late updating I know, got a full time day job [sobs], I try to fit in as much as I can with spare time, been re-topologising the male figure bearing in mind the kind advice about poly levels. It’s my first ever re-topo - have always relied on tricks like ZRemesher in the past to avoid it, but that has it’s limits so hey ho.

I know most of those who know the score will spot my flaws, too dense here and there - Ngons - {too many} - Ngons. Much could be improved with poly flows around leg joints etc, retopo is tedious. It’s looking like it will end up around 6.5k when complete.

I’m Using Topogun 2, it’s ok… but I can see why people would rather not re-topo - hehe.

I should be done in next few days with some tweaks, then I’ll have a go at rigging it up.

I’m getting a new webcam to use with hifi - I see the Asus Xtion pro scanner thingy - seems like a good buy for tracking movement … anyone tried one of those, or have any decent suggestions ?