By Michael Burns | on November 14, 2005
Price When Reviewed: 645 . 2725 . 3115
Pros: Character Extensions, FK effectors, Pose and Keying enhancements, Keying groups, plus new constraints compatible with Maya 7 and updated FBX Plug-ins
Cons: Focus on Maya integration, workflow and interface enhancements makes for a more complicated application. Authorization and licensing process is rather complicated, and the application is relatively expensive.
Since its inception, MotionBuilder has always been seen as an add-on to other 3D applications, in much the same way Character Studio was to 3DS Max. When Kaydara bought the application, it veered towards becoming more of a 3D storyboarding application, but now Alias has firmly steered it back to the role of character animator as part of a bigger workflow.
The process is straightforward. You create the character model with bones in your normal application, export it as a FBX file, and open it in MotionBuilder. The application ships with a number of updated FBX plug-ins so you can transfer your work with ease. You then characterize the model – adding a structured template to it that MotionBuilder understands. You then add a control rig (with enhanced visual feedback in this version) for working with keyframe animation. The software can import and retarget motion capture information, and makes use of a sophisticated Story window to combine and apply motion clips to form new animation tracks. The finished result is then plotted to your model and exported out of the application.
Many of the new features in MotionBuilder 7 concern fitting the application into a production pipeline workflow. One such area of improvement is constraints, enhanced in this version to be more compatible with Maya 7. New simple constraints include Aim, Chain IK, and Scale, while other enhancements include new offsets, additional properties in the Properties window, and changes to the Parent-Child and Rotation constraints to make them more Maya-compatible.