Animation Store UE4 – FAQ

This product is directed to animation programmers and to animators, to make their jobs easier.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

UE 4.14 Retargeting “bug” – missing skeleton in Target Window – click to read

UE4 TPP Tutorials!:


 

FAQ:

 

 

0. “I am completly new to game development and UE4…

If you are new to gamedev or UE4, PLEASE, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING. But if you already did, then just proceed to watching tutorials at the top of this page :)

If you haven’t yet bought anything, then just start learning UE4 using free tutorials and free assets available at UE Marketplace. When you know Unreal’s UI, what are Animations, what is a Skeleton, what are IK, Blendspaces, Anim Blueprints etc. and how to use them, you will be able to make an informed decision about purchasing animation assets (or any other assets).

To make a good character controller, you will also need to know your trigonometry, vectors, sinuses, cosinuses etc. Really, not joking :).

“But there are Blueprints, and everybody says I don’t need to be a programmer to make a game anymore…”

Not exactly. Thanks to Blueprint graphs, you don’t have to type in the code in text form, but you still have to construct the same code sequence using graphs. You don’t need to be a coder, but you still need to be a programmer. So that means you still have to think like a programmer and you still have to know all the code functions that UE4 has to offer, to make a game. The difference is just connecting certain graph nodes, that represent code functions, instead of copy pasting the code sequences from the manual. Either way – you still have to know how to construct scripts, equasions, how to count angles, use arrays, hash tables, bools, floats, vectors…

For example, take a look at that Blueprint, taken from “Blueprints” free demo pack, made by Epic:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

If it’s perfectly clear to you what it does, then you are good – you can safely buy all the animations you need. But if it looks like black magic to you, it’s probably a sign, that you really shouldn’t rush in and buy anything. You should learn using free assets and see if you even like being a UE4 game creator.

 

 

1. “What are you actually selling?”

I sell animations, which are art assets, that are used to build a video game, using Unreal Engine 4. Animations are not code, they are art, that programmers can use, to build character controllers.

 

2. “I bought your animations and the character is not walking.”

Animations are just art assets, just like 3d models or textures. They are not a video game, they are used to MAKE video games. They don’t work “out of the box”. If you want your character to respond to controls, you need to make a character controller, using programming in c++ or Blueprints. This controller will move the character model on the level and play the animations.

 

3. “I don’t know how to make a controller, please give me a tutorial.”

RazzorFlame’s tutorial:

Evil Eye Games TPP shooter tutorial:

 

You can find more tutorials for UE4 here:

And the documentation about UE4 animation system here:

https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/index.html

Also I’ll try to provide basic tutorials, related to my animations here:

http://www.kubold.com/?page_id=498

 

4. “Can I order custom animations and how much would that cost?”

I’m sorry, but I currently try to avoid working for a single client. Simply because having no boss is just amazing.

Now, as for the price of a single, exclusive set: about $10.000-$12.000. That information is usually hidden behind “Call now for a quote!” text in all mocap studios’ homepages. I will try to explain why mocap is so expensive.

  1. To make mocap, a studio invested in cameras, a big 100m+ open space room and software licenses (Blade, Motionbuilder). Even for the smallest mocap studio, it’s minimum $30.000 + room rent $1000/month. It can go up to literally tens of millions of dollars for a full blown Hollywood-rate mocap. This investment has to keep returning, so small studios usually charge about $2000 just for renting mocap hardware for one day.
  2. To make a motion capture session, besides electricity bills and rent, you have to pay for at least one mocap technician for full day and a mocap actor for full day. The better the actor, the more he charges, so for example a stuntman would ask for $1000 + taxes (in Poland).
  3. Now you have raw, uncut mocaps, presented as c3d points. They need to be cleaned up, cut to clips and retargeted to a game character. Then, the animations need to be processed further – posed, timed, guns need to be snapped to hands, feet can’t cross the floor etc. etc. This can take take up to a month per 100 animations. Assuming a skilled, experienced, valued mocap artist makes about $4000/month in Europe (more in USA), then this process costs about $7.200 for a 180 animations set like Sword Animset Pro.

Now, I’m selling my sets for about $60. I can only do that, becasue there is a chance, that in a year or even two, an asset can sell 200 copies or more, which can make it worthwhile eventually.

 

5. “Will you make a controller and include it with the package?”

At this point, I’m pretty sure that it will, sadly, never happen. I suck at math and I’m not a programmer. I tried, but this is not for me. I was only able make a controller in Unity PlayMaker visual scripting tool, because it’s waaaaaay easier, but UE4 is too hard for me.

 

6. “How to change the model on the animations” or “how do I play the animations on my own model”?

Right now you can play any humanoidal animation on any humanoidal character inside UE4, using retargeting. Here’s the documentation:

https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/AnimationRetargeting/index.html

https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/RetargetingDifferentSkeletons/index.html

 

 

7. “How can I modify the animations?”

You can export the animations to FBX files from inside the UE4 editor (right click on the animation, Export). Once the animation is in an FBX file, you can import it to any 3d animation software you want – 3ds max, Maya, Motionbuilder, Blender etc. and modify it (you need to have some animation skills).

There are also Motionbuilder FBX source files included, you can import them to Maya or Max or open them in Motionbuilder.

If you have access to Motionbuilder, I recommend it for the job. Here are some tutorials. They are aged, but still valid.

 

 

8. “When I import the multitake FBX file to Maya/3ds max, only one animation imports”

Only one animation at a time can be imported to Maya or 3ds max. When importing the multitake FBX file to Maya or 3ds max, you have to choose the Animation Take in the import window.

Motion_to_Maya_02

 

9. “I will buy your animations, only if you promise to make [ some custom animations ].”

I can’t make such a promise. Please base your decision on the current contents of the animation packages.

 

10. “Where are the FBX source files in the pack I bought?”

They are in [ProjectName]\Content\[PackName]\SourceFiles\SourceFiles.zip. This file is not visible from inside the UE4 Editor, because .zip format is not used by UE4. Please unpack it through your Operating System.

 

11. “Can I use those animations in an FPP game? You wrote, they are only for TPP.”

First, let’s precise – those animations are only for a TPP character, not only for a TPP game. There are also TPP characters in FPP games – enemies, NPCs etc. (beacuse you don’t see thrugh their eyes). So yes, you can use my animations in FPP games, to animate enemies and NPCs. The animations are not suitable for First Person Perspective view though, so you shouldn’t use them for the main FPP hero.

But, for anyone still interested, one guy actually did it. He attached the camera directlyto the character’s head and it came out exactly like those GoPro real-life FPP videos:

 

 

12. “I bought your animations, so now guide me through making my game”

I’m really sorry, but this is just an animation store. You can learn the engine on your own, using hundreds of tutorials, you can find through google (and also on the top of this page).

 

13. “I bought a character model from [some other company], and it doesn’t work with your animations”

There could be many, many causes, but the most common are:

a) your new model is not rigged – this means that the character model doesn’t have bones (joints) inside, that deform the mesh. Models have to have bones and skin to move their arms and legs.

b) the model is rigged, but the skeleton (the bones) is different then the one in my animations. You have to retarget the animations. Here’s how you do it:

https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/AnimationRetargeting/index.html
https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/RetargetingDifferentSkeletons/index.html

 

14. “A rifle, that I bought from UE Marketplace doesn’t fit the hands in your animations – left hand is not holding the barrel, when I use AimOffsets etc.”

This is exactly why you have the IK bones in Unreal Template Skeleton. You need to turn on the IK on the left hand and snap the effector to the barrel of the gun. This way, the left hand will always be where the IK effector is – on the barrel.

Read: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/IKSetups/index.htm

 

15. “Can you rig my characters or tell me how to do it?”

I’m sorry, I don’t provide such services. Maya Rigging Toolset, provided by Epic, has a great series of tutorials, that will allow you to rig and animate your character, specifically for UE4. Now, newest Maya and MayaLT also have a built-in Autorigger tool!

 

16. “There are missing animations in your set, like strafe-turning-while-walking-backwards, strafe-crouch-sprinting-45-degrees and [some other animations]”

I do my best to provide every possible information about the product before you buy, including the lists of the animations and video previews, to make sure, you know what you pay for. Please read the animation lists before purchasing – if the animation is not listed, then it’s just simply not included, because it was not necessary for the controller, that the set was intended for.

ALTHOUGH. Tell me what’s missing, and I’ll try to add it (if it’s reasonable – sprinting while crouching is not) :)

 

17. “Why won’t you include every animation possible, to make an ultimate, all purpose mocap set, like in GTA V?”

Because the package would have to include 4000 animations, making it would take years and it would have to cost $3.000. That’s too much of everything.

 

18. “Will those animations work on Mixamo’s (or some other developer’s) characters?”

Yes.

 

19. “Why are those sets not free?” (surprisingly often asked question)

Because selling them is my job. I need money to pay bills and rent for my motion capture studio, buy food for my family, pay mortgage etc.

 

20. “Why won’t you make an FPP animation set?”

Because FPP animations are all about the specific weapon 3d model used in your game. They pretty much have to be custom made for the specific 3d weapon model, if they are about to be any good. The reload animations need to be made for a specific weapon model skeleton, otherwise the hand and fingers animations will not fit. And all games have different weapons.

This is totally different then just retargeting full body animations. In FPP anims, everything needs to be precisely fitted to the camera view, fingers must precisely hold the barrel and the clip and the lock, when reloading. Sure – you can try to retarget it – but it will just look bad. Also, the camera animation is a very important component of FPP animations.

And also, mocaps look really different in FPP view then you would expect. Mocaps in FPP view look like a GoPro camera footage. All over the place, shaking… for FPP you need hand made, almost static animations that are practically glued to the camera. Something like in Unity’s UFPS.

Long story short – I’m a mocap guy and I bring you expensive mocaps for indie prices. For FPP you need to find a hand-key guy :)

 

21. “Can you modify the set I bught? I don’t like the artistic style – animations are too stiff/too slow/too fast/too male/too heavy” etc.

I’m sorry, but no. You are buying a big mocap set for just around $60 instead of $6.000, but the downside is you don’t get to have it customised to your liking. When you buy pre-made, royalty free assets form Marketplace, it’s pretty much “it is what it is, take it or leave it”. But it’s 100 times cheaper than having it custom made just for you.

However, every pack has the fbx source files included, so you can easly adjust the animations in Maya or Motionbuilder:

You can even retarget the animations to a non-humanoid character:

22. How can I make two of your animation packs work together on one skeleton in UE4?

In UE4 all animations must reference just ONE skeleton FILE. Although the skeletons are identical in all packs, I can’t reference animation files to the Skeleton file, that is in some other pack. This is physically impossible.

In UE4, it’s not enough to have identical skeletons. An animation must reference a specific Skeleton file and will work only using that Skeleton file. It doesn’t matter if some other skeleton file is identical, the animation must use just the one that it was imported to. That is how UE4 works.

That’s why, if you bought 2 of my animation sets, and you want all animations to point to just one Skeleton file, you have to retarget one of the sets, even thoguh the Skeletons are the same. Here’s how you do it, it takes like 3 mouse clicks:

https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest…ing/index.html

If the 2 skeletons are identical (like in my animsets) there is another way to do this:
1. Choose the skeleton you don’t want anymore and delete it. It will tell you that there are still assets referencing it (all the animations, blendspaces and skeletal meshes).
2. Use the “replace” option, and choose the remaining skeleton.

If all goes well, the assets referencing the deleted skeleton will now be swapped over. Then you can delete the skeletal mesh and materials too.

 

23. “Can I use your animations in my Marketplace pack and sell it to people to make money (or give it out for free)?”

No. The license clearly says that the animations must be a part of a COMPILED game. The license also explicitly says that the animations can NOT be a part of your asset pack.

 

24. “I want to use strafing animations for non-combat movement (Movement Animset Pro), but when I change directions, the legs sometimes cross in my Blendspace. How to fix it?”

First thing to realize, is that if you have 2 legs, and you want to freely strafe in 360 degrees, while still walking normally, then there will unavoidably be 2 angles when the legs will cross. Always. Even if you would produce 360 walking animations for every agle, there would still be 2 angles when the legs cross. Normal, unarmed walking is, in essence, crossing your legs. Fortunately, the leg crossing can happen only in half of the walk cycle time, the other half is when the legs are apart.

Please make an experiment in real life to better understand it. Try to strafe right and stop in middle of the step, when your legs are crossed. Now, please try to change direction of walking to forward from that position, by moving your rear leg forward. You can’t, can you? The front leg blocks your rear leg. Because your legs are crossed and your rear leg would have to literally pass through your front leg to move forward. In real life, you would have to keep strafing right, until your legs are no longer crossed, and only then you can “blend” to walk forward. Also, notice, that people don’t strafe in casual situations in real life. They strafe in sports and combat, but notice, that sports and combat strafing is totally different and you don’t cross feet by design. You just drag your other foot after your front foot.

So, in real life you can’t change directions freely, when strafing using casual walk. However, in computer games, the legs are not physical, so you don’t have that limitation. And the legs just intersect each other. Because the Blend Tree doesn’t know that it is impossible, so the Blend Tee just blends whatever.

What you can do to prevent crossing from happening:

  • you can resign from strafing in non-combat situations altogether, by using more realistic system for casual movement. Strafing is something people do ONLY in sports and combat in real life. People are of course physically able to strafe like that, but they just don’t do it. In non-combat situations (Movement Animset Pro is a non-combat animation set), people just turn to desired direction and walk forward to get there. If they need to look right or left while walking, they just twist their heads to look and still walk forward. That’s why all TPP AAA games do that (Uncharted, Tomb Rider, Assassin’s Creed, Witcher etc.). Not only the movement will be more realistic, but also problems with legs crossing will disappear.Example of non-strafing casual walking:
  • Tip: if you want the character to always face, where the camera looks, just make the character twist his upper body and head, to look at that direction, using IK or/and additive animations.
  • you can “simulate” real world strafing by using code/scripts/Blueprints. When you reach the point in the walk cycle, where legs are crossed, just stop the blendspace from blending further for a moment, if a) the walk cycle is in legs crossing phase, b) this is the angle when crossing can happen. When the walk cycle reaches the phase, when the legs are apart, or the angle changes, you can resume with blending further. This solution will work well visually, but players will sometimes experience unresponsiveness of controls (just like they would in real life). But again – people don’t strafe in casual situations in real life. They strafe in sports and combat, but notice, that sports and combat strafing is totally different and you don’t cross feet by design. You just drag your other foot after your front foot.
  • use IK to prevent legs crossing. If you are in the angle when feet can cross and in the cycle phase when the feet do cross, then move one or both feet by couple of centimeters for a moment, so they are apart. This solution is a 50/50 compromise between responsive controls and visual quality.

Look at Max Payne 3 for example. This is a very good example of solving TPP combat with quite realistic movement patterns. Max essentially never strafes in classical meaning, while the player feels that he does. But he doesn’t really, even in combat – if you press left or right, Max will turn left or right, start running forward, while at the same time he twists his upper body and arms on additive animations and IK to aim where camera aims. When you let go of the button, he will stop running and quickly rotate in place to align with camera. This makes the movement natural and eliminates the legs crossing problem.

 

25. “I’m switching from Unreal to Unity. Do I have to buy the set again on Unity Asset Store?”

No, you don’t have to. Every set has FBX source files included (you can access it through Windows, by going to folder …\Content\[package name]\SourceFiles\SourceFiles.zip). Just drag and drop them to Unity and they will work.

 

26. “When I use AimOffset blendspace in Rifle Animset pro, the left hand is sometimes not holding the gun barrel, when the blendspace is between aim poses”

Blendspaces and AimOffsets use FK (Forward Kinematics) animation. To simplify, this means, that the left hand has no idea where the gun barrel is, and it just blends straight from one pose to the other. When it’s halfway between poses, the rotations of every bone is also halfway between the key frames and the result may be not precise.

This is exactly why you have the IK bones in Unreal Template Skeleton. You need to turn on the IK on the left hand and snap the effector to the barrel of the gun (in the Blueprint, not in the AimOffset blendspace). This way, the left hand will always be where the IK effector is – on the barrel.

Using IK is a standard solution in every AAA game, don’t be afraid of using it, it’s a great tool.

Read: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Animation/IKSetups/index.htm

 

27. “When I try to retarget animations in UE4, the Target Skeleton preview box is empty.”

Since UE 4.14, you have to make an additional step in retargeting. Turn on Skeleton Preview on your target character, so everything works correctly. Here’s how:

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