Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Basefount releases Animcraft

Basefount has released Animcraft, an interesting new tool for building reusable animation libraries.

The software ingests keyframe or motion-capture animation, retargets it to new characters, and exports it in the native formats of DCC applications and game engines.

It works with rigged characters created in a range of common DCC tools and game engines, making it possible to transfer animation between 3ds Max, Blender, Cinema 4D, Maya, Unity and Unreal Engine.

Build reusable libraries of stock animations that can be retargeted between 3D characters
Described by Basefount as a “3D animation sharing and productivity application”, Animcraft is Basefount’s second major software product.

Its first, Maya crowd-simulation plugin Miarmy, is widely used in visual effects and game development, by studios including Digital Domain, Scanline VFX and Square Enix.

Animcraft is designed to enable studios to build up reusable libraries of animation that can be transferred from application to application, and from character to character.

According to Basefount, it permits “stable motion transfer” between any two biped characters “regardless of the variations in skeletal hierarchy, rigs [and] figures”.

Supports key file formats for 3D characters and reference media
Animcraft ingests 3D characters or animation in MAX, FBX, BVH and MMD format, and materials data in Substance Designer’s SBS format. Support for USD and Houdini HDA files is planned.

Users can also import reference images or videos, including animated GIFs.

The resulting content library can be browsed visually or via a tree view, or users can tag and filter assets.

Individual files can then be previewed or played back in the software’s real-time PBR viewport, with options to preview body and finger poses and facial blend shapes.

Retarget animations between key DCC appliations and game engines
Users can then extract animation data from imported characters and retarget it for use on other characters with different bodily proportions.

Retargeting uses a simple visual workflow, with users selecting joints to map in standard UI templates, including templates for human, humanoid and quadruped characters, and hand and foot rigs.

Mapping also supports weapons, making it possible to retarget weapon animations between human or humanoid characters.

The software reads the native rig formats of a range of DCC applications, including 3ds Max, Blender, Cinema 4D, Maya, Unity and Unreal Engine, plus Autodesk’s HumanIK middleware and Adobe’s Mixamo.

Once retargeted, animated characters can be exported in FBX format, or animation data exported directly to characters inside Unity or Unreal Engine.

New in Animcraft 1.1: new animation editing, auto-rigging and secondary dynamics features
The most recent update, Animcraft 1.1, has also beefed up the software’s animation-editing tools, adding the option to edit frame rates and numbers of animation cycles, or to reverse and mirror animations.

It is also now possible to create a new animation layer on top of imported animations, then add keyframes to it, to edit animation data non-destructively.

The release also adds BridgeIK, a complete FK/IK auto-rigging system, making it possible to build a rig for an imported character, then edit its motion using the other rig and keyframe controls.

There is also an experimental new PhysX-based dynamics system, intended to make it possible to preview how clothing and props will move with a character.

Pricing and system requirements
Animcraft 1.1 is available for 64-bit Windows 7+. Linux and macOS version are coming “soon”.

The integration plugins support 3ds Max 2016-2020, Blender 2.81-2.83, Cinema 4D R20+, Maya 2016+, Unity 2017+ and Unreal Engine 4.23+.

The software is rental-only, and costs $199/year per node-locked licence; $259/year per floating licence.

Visit the Animcraft product website

Read a full list of features in Animcraft in the online documentation

Watch videos of Animcraft’s key features on Basefount’s YouTube channel