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A thought experiment


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#1 Tarison

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 11:28 PM

Don't know if anyone is still alive here, but over the past few days, I've been playing with Blender a bit for the sake of creating content for Unreal Engine (some personal projects). And after some minor back-and-forth with settings for import/exports, it obviously got me thinking about ye olde TM modding scene. Some might remember me, I don't know. 

 

Anyway, the short thing is, I recalled that someone had managed to import characters into Blender, like, the Starmaker variants. I know that other assets (props, costumes, etc) were brought in, and saw too that Lefty2000 had brought animations into Blender. 

 

Now, the version of Blender that supports the actual TM import/export scripts is not the latest one. Not even close. But just the whole... thing made me realise that it wouldn't be too hard to import some of this content into Unreal Engine. Totally f'ed as far as legality and usage goes beyond a personal thing, but it could be done.

 

Sure, the world has moved onto better ways of doing things (to the point one might say ditch the whole thing or try to make new content in the same style but with animations/techniques that are more current though inspired by the original) but it was an interesting thought experiment. 

 

That said, if you were able to do all that, you might find it easier to just straight-up use Unreal for animation in its native sense, but it's still an interesting thought.


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#2 Tarison

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 12:03 AM

A bit less thought and a bit more experiment. No textures but...

 

DxJTIn7UwAE2HNH.jpg

 

The wonky version of the mesh is from me trying to retarget Unreal animations (rather than trying to import TM animations) but the skeletons are too different in... something, though they technically have the same number of bones. Probably partly weight-blend issues, partly skeleton layout, and partly default axes. 


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#3 MikeDBoing

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 01:35 PM

Yo Tarison!

Man it's been like forever. Glad to see you are still into gaming and modding. Been kicking around the UE4 animation for a bit and so far, the only way to get TM models in UE4 is to use the UE4 Blender add-on and use the UE4 skeleton. Retargeting is a major pain, the axes are always wrong for some reason, the scale is a dice throw away and as far as converting animation to use for UE4....good luck.


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Baby we were Boing to run.... 2660.jpg


#4 Tarison

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 02:25 PM

Likewise, good to see you :) 

 

I haven't been game to try out the script to get TM animations into Blender, but reckon if not that, you could create custom animations against the TM skeleton and see how that worked. I've mostly been working with non-TM stuff for a while, but it just sort of... popped out as a possibility. Though at this stage, it'd probably be nicer to adapt the Paragon animations to something else (they're pretty easy to retarget to anything with a standard UE4 skeleton) and take it from there. Plus to really do it right, you'd want to split up all the models and create probably PBR stuff for them to really take advantage of the new technologies available. 

 

Did recently work out creating new animations for UE4, so hey, maybe there's still something to look at.


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#5 Tarison

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 03:42 PM

Here's a confirmation of sorts - this is a crappy custom animation I created in Blender against the costume, but imported and animated in Unreal .So yeah, hypothetically this means that the scripts by Lefty2000 to convert TM animations for use in Blender? There exists a path to take them all the way through to UE4.
 
hQPiGpg.gif

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#6 MikeDBoing

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 11:51 PM

As I understand the big picture: You can import TM characters and animations in Blender, match it somehow (I think renaming the skeleton bones to UE4 Bone names might work) to a UE4 skeleton and make it work in Blender, then export as a FBX animation file ( be warned, the 2.7x version of the FBX exporter is wonky as hell).


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Baby we were Boing to run.... 2660.jpg


#7 Johnny Ex

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 04:54 AM

Good to see you Tarison you ol innovator you!

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#8 Tarison

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 04:26 PM

Hey Mike and Johnny :)

 

There's two steps, really - the skeleton is different enough from the UE4 humanoid rig that animations won't just translate - this is especially noticeable in the feet. What I did in the gif above, is create a brand new animation inside Blender, against the TM skeleton - not converted over to Unreal, just using the skeleton that UE4 generated based on the mesh (which matches with the TM skeleton layout). The step you have to do to make it play nice, is to disable the leaf nodes on the bone export. Had to do this recently (i've been playing with other non-TM animation stuff in Unreal, among other things). 

 

Anyway, the real *oomph* to all this is... https://youtu.be/IzU9Gl_DTTQ

 

Basically, there were a few minor changes (setting root motion in Unreal) but that's come straight from the TM paks via MED, imported into Blender 249 with the TM Mesh and TM Anim Scripts, saved as blends, merged in Blender 2.80 (beta), bits renamed, and then exported to fbx.

 

Still didn't bother with textures, so knocked together a few quick materials in Unreal, then added some lighting and duplicated the sets to make it seem bigger. Oh, and created a quick blueprint class to make the robot move forward while the animation played.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attached Files


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#9 thebiz

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 06:16 AM

Very cool Tarison.  Neat to see the old robot walk tossed in among the bones of something new.  Where you headed from here?


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#10 Tarison

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 08:38 AM

Honestly, not much further. I'm mostly on the game development side these days, though Unreal does kinda lend its way to both. The path to get textures from TM into UE4 is pretty cumbersome - you basically have to bring it into Blender 2.49, save the blend, bring it into Blender 2.79, something breaks on the way to 2.8, but that's the one that does the sizing correct. In the end for the following, I had to manually assign the textures again (though they were still mapped right). There might be a case for creating new Blender scripts for Blender 2.8 since it's both nicer to work with, and much more featured, but like.. I don't know if I can want to do that :D

 

But yeah, here's another glimpse of how a modern TM could look (and that's if they were doing the low effort take)

 


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#11 thebiz

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 03:51 PM

I was not prepared for a falling down stairs movie today.  Nice!


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#12 lefty2000

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 07:43 PM

Let me know if I can help with the animation import part.  I am including the latest version of my animation import export scripts fro Blender and the The Movies as an attachment.

 

Be glad to help with the animation import part of the project if needed.Attached File  importexportanm(6.0).zip   19.75KB   2 downloads

 

Since I am committed to using only free software from here on in, I won't be getting into Unity.  For the time being, I am sticking with Blender 2.49, but I could supply an import script for Blender 2.77, with a little effort.

 

If the attachment does not work, here is a URL for the zip :http://www.lefty2000...ortanm(6.0).zip





 



#13 Tarison

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 09:02 PM

Thanks Lefty - I did use the 5.1.4 version of your script ot get the animation out to begin with, and from there would use Blender 2.49 to save the blend, then reopen in Blender 2.8 (skipping over the 2.7s entirely). As it turned out (based on Mike's feedback above, there was something askew with the FBX exporter in 2.7. If you're inclined later, 2.8 is probably the right way to go (though it's still in beta) but the whole interface for scripts looks to be different now, so while the internals of the scripts are probably fine (unless they've moved to Python 3 which they may have done), the hooks are all different. I don't know :)

 

And I'm using Unreal Engine, which is free* (strings attached of course)



#14 Tarison

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 09:13 PM

Probably also relevant, the whole thing was sequenced/scripted inside Unreal, but recorded externally. I made the fade in/out a bit slower, but I'm not super used to the Sequencer. Most of the scripting was in the logic for the robot, to tell it when it was over a certain angle, to change eye colour and start glitching, plus a delay for activation. Happy to share the blueprint layout if that's a thing anyone wants.



#15 lefty2000

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 09:59 PM

Right now my focus is on creating new animations for The Movies.   The 4005 anm files in the game are a tremendous resource and I have only looked at a few hundred of them.  The reason that new versions of the import script are being made is that as I explore more of the files, I often run into anomalies that my existing scripts won't handle.  Result is a new version.  I think I am approaching the point of diminishing returns with the latest version but I am hopeful ultimately  I will be able handle all 4005 of them.


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#16 Tarison

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 10:20 PM

Definitely understood :) I think there's also potential for a reweight of TM costumes based on the UE4 skeleton structure, which would open up a whole slew of them. 

 

One resource I found in my recent foray into animation, was the Carnegie Mellon motion capture stuff: http://mocap.cs.cmu.edu/search.php

 

I've seen conversions of that into both Unity and Unreal (which use different skeletons), so I'd imagine there would be a way to realign them with the TM skeleton (apologies if you've already looked at this, I've been out of the loop for the last decade or so). 

 

 

Personally, it's always been the lighting options that bugged me with The Movies. Even back in the day, I'd constantly be affected by the bug that doesn't maintain lightmaps over set dressing if you had saved the set dressing (it was fine if you just copied the scene) which became a mess of its own. Technically you could always bake a new lightmap in Blender or whatever and bring that in.

 

Anyway, I reckon what you've done is great. I wouldn't have been able to do my little clip above if not for the work you did, and I got a kick out of seeing my name in the copyright line.

 

That said, I've noticed you've got the pdb import enabled on this one too, though are not using the pdb trace. I had to comment out that line to get it to work originally.



#17 lefty2000

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 10:46 PM

I don't understand why the pdb module would not be there for Blender 2.49.  Perhaps you are using an unusual configuration.  Thanks for the tip.



#18 lefty2000

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 10:42 PM

I think I see why the pdb import caused an error.  You apparently don't have to install the full version of  python 2.6 to use blender 2.49.  A minimal set of python modules are included with the distribution (e.g. math) but it likely would not include pdb.  So your configuration is probably not so unusual after all.






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