Thursday, December 7th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Get Epic Games’ free Pose Driver Connect for Maya and UE5

Epic Games has released Pose Driver Connect, a free tool – or strictly, pair of tools – for transferring secondary animation authored in Maya to Unreal Engine with a “one-to-one match”.

The toolset, which is still an experimental release, streamlines the process of creating corrective deformations that can be applied automatically to characters, including MetaHumans.

With it, animators and character riggers can recreate corrective set-ups authored in Maya automatically inside Unreal Engine, speeding up game art, VFX or motion graphics workflows.

A RBF-based tool for transferring secondary animation from Maya to Unreal Engine
Epic Games describes Pose Driver Connect as making it possible to “author secondary animation [in] Maya and import it into Unreal Engine to recreate it as a one-to-one match”.

In practice, it seems to be more secondary deformation than full secondary animation: the toolset is geared towards creating corrective deformations for tricky-to-rig parts of a character, like shoulders, elbows and knees, to fix artefacts when the limba are in extreme positions.

As with similar previous Maya rigging add-ons, it uses a radial basis function (RBF) – sort of a next-level version of Maya’s native Set Driven Key system.

Create corrective deformations in Maya that are automatically applied to characters in UE5
The Pose Driver Connect toolset consists of two tools: the Pose Driver Connect plugin itself, and Maya script PoseWrangler.

With PoseWrangler running, users can move one joint of a character into a position that creates an unwanted artefact, then transform surrounding joints to create a more realistic deformation.

The process can then be repeated for other poses, as shown in this walkthrough video.

PoseWrangler creates solvers that control how the corrective deformations are interpolated between poses, which can be exported in JSON format, along with an FBX clip of the poses.

Pose Driver Connect then takes the data into Unreal Engine and generates an Animation Blueprint that recreates the same set-up, so that corrective deformation is automatically applied as the character moves.

Retarget corrective deformation set-ups to other 3D characters
The set-up can be retargeted to other characters with a similar skeleton – so any corrective deformation set up for a MetaHuman character should retarget to other MetaHumans.

Mainly for characters, but could be used for props or other objects
Although the most obvious use cases for Pose Driver Connect are for character animation, it isn’t restricted to skeletal set-ups, or indeed, to characters at all.

Since RBFs can be used to drive any object’s translation, scale or rotation based on the translation of another object, the workflow could also be used for props.

Pose Driver Connect’s functionality can be customized via Blueprints or Python scripting, so it should be possible for technical artists to create custom workflows.

Licence and system requirements
Pose Driver Connect is compatible with Unreal Engine 5.1+ and Maya 2020+, although there are currently known issues with Maya 2020. It’s currently an experimental release.

It’s a free download, licensed for commercial use with Unreal Engine-based products only.

Read an overview of Pose Driver Connect on Epix Games’ blog

Download Epic Games’ free Pose Driver Connect toolset for Unreal Engine

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