New Motion Library plugin includes 50 free motion assets to access right now.
In 2018, Rokoko – the makers of the Smartsuit Pro and a bunch of other motion capture offerings – launched its Motion Library as a marketplace for motion assets. Different mocap studios produce assets for the Library, performed by professional actors.
With the release of Autodesk’s Maya 2020.1 comes a native plugin for the Motion Library, along with immediate access to 50 free motion assets produced by motion capture performer and stuntman Eric Jacobus.
Here’s how it all works, and how to get your hands on those motion capture assets.
What is the Motion Library?
That’s a question best answered by Rokoko founder and CEO Jakob Balslev, who says the Motion Library was an extension of the company’s experience with the Smartsuit Pro. “The suit solved the problem of giving quick and easy access to personal and custom mocap. Next up was finding an even quicker and more effortless way to find high-quality character animation. If you can’t afford a suit or optical system, or if you aren’t able or willing to perform the movements yourself, the world’s largest marketplace of motion assets can help.”
“When we began development,” adds Balslev, “we knew of a few existing motion asset archives online, but they typically varied in quality and selections, and weren’t centralized. Most importantly they were static and not evolving. Our idea was to create a marketplace that was constantly growing and changing, so creators and users – many of whom could be on both sides of the marketplace – could start interacting, helping each other out and building relationships and collaborations.”
Professional motion capture studios are the current publishers of the assets in the Library (the idea being to ensure the highest quality possible), but Balslev does say it is intended to gradually open up things to more creators in the future. “That way,” he notes, “the library will start growing exponentially and we’ll begin to see a more iterative and interactive process around what assets are created and displayed.”
How the plugin works in Maya, and how much
Right now, Maya users have a number of ways of bringing mocap into Maya. The tool has shipped with mocap in the content browser where it’s been possible to drag and drop assets in. “This is partly what inspired us to make things as easy as possible with Rokoko,” says TJ Galda, senior product line manager, content creation for entertainment at Autodesk.
To open up the Motion Library window in Maya, just navigate to Windows->Animation Editors->Motion Library. Here, explains Galda, “users can browse assets and purchase a wide variety of moves. The individual animations are then downloadable as .fbx files that are ready to work with HIK. There’s also an option to directly import those files into your open scene, making it super-fast to get to work.”
Right now, there are two fixed price categories that the motion capture asset publishers can offer their assets at: $3 or $6 per asset.
“In time,” says Balslev, “our plan is to open up for more categories when we start including assets with multiple characters, props, face capture, etc. It will still be up to the publishers to decide what price is right, and we trust that the marketplace dynamics will ensure assets end up in the right spot, even if they weren’t priced correctly initially.”
A look at the custom assets
For this new Motion Library and Maya launch, Rokoko teamed up with Eric Jacobus to craft a custom asset pack for release right now. This was a bespoke shoot, directed by Autodesk senior animation product owner Mark Tanner (who was previously animation director at Ubisoft). The result was a pack of commonly used motions that Eric recorded.
Details Balslev: “Eric is an absolute machine and just kept churning out awesome assets. I initially thought that they would be able to create something like 20 on that day, but they ended up coming back with 50 awesome assets that we are super excited to be giving away for free to all Maya users, those that have the new plugin.”
For each of the recordings, Jacobus wore an Xsens suit – “a great way for us at Rokoko to show what we mean by opening up our ecosystems to all creators, in a truly hardware-agnostic way,” notes Balslev.
Asked to pick a few motion capture assets that stand out in the Motion Library, Balslev says it’s hard to narrow it down, but does sight Bulgaria-based Cinemotion’s collection of creature assets. “They are really awesome and ‘organic’ in feel. Also, Canadian publisher Morro Motion has some amazing dance assets that just have a ‘human’ and dynamic quality to them that is quite extraordinary.”
“Generally,” continues Balslev, “I’d say that the challenge in character animation is often capturing those subtle human movements that are so hard to define – things like a sense of breath in the body and capturing the way every bit of our bodies are connected. Therefore, it’s actually often the less bombastic animations that are the most unique and useful. The performers behind the assets in the library are actual, world class dancers or actors, and that really shows through in the data.”
To get your hands on Maya 2020.1 and the new Motion Library plugin, head to https://www.autodesk.com/products/maya/overview.Get exclusive content, join the befores & afters Patreon community