3ds Max - Animation

Community Tips

This tutorial has been adapted from the community generated Animation Wiki.

Usually, disabling baking is best. However, certain plugins don’t work with FBX (e.g. Character Animation Toolkit) and should be baked.

CAT rigs are supported but have to be exported a certain way. In order to export animation that is made using CAT (Character Animation Toolkit), make sure you do the following:

  • BEFORE you try to export make sure you are NOT displaying any bones as a box. Select the object/bone, right-click and go to Object Properties. Display as Box causes an FBX export error.

    3ds Max animation don't display as box
  • When you export your animated model you only need to select the Model not the bones. Any CAT bones that are skinned to the mesh will be automatically exported.
  • In the FBX Settings, you must check Convert Deforming Dummies to Bones. Otherwise it will cause an error and your bones will display as geometry. Users found the following FBX settings to be optimal:

    3ds max animation fbx settings
    • Don't use points or helpers as bones. It is not supported and causes missing animated geometry. But if you can't avoid it then you will have to export it "twice". For some reason the "convert deforming dummies to bones" option at export doesn't work. So first export it to FBX as you would normally do. Then import it back to 3ds Max for converting every point and helper to bones and export it out again to FBX.

Morph Compound Objects are not supported because they are not exported in FBX.

Multiple Takes

User DigiBuild has shared a workflow (in 3ds Max 2016) to export multiple takes as separate animations on Sketchfab:

  1. Click on the GameExporter (where File and Edit menus are lined up).
  2. From the Dialog, go to the Animation Clips tab.
  3. From here you can slice your animation from the scene.
  4. If you need, you can modify your mesh export settings with the cog at the bottom right

This will export animations as well as mesh. A bonus, the Static pose will be the T-stance, not the first frame of the animation.

Another option is this plugin (not free). Some notes from user protofactor:

  • The trial version only works up to 3ds Max 2014
  • The paid version works in 3ds Max 2015.
  • You must export the "take001" animation for the export to work correctly. You can delete it from Sketchfab after uploading.

Troubleshooting tips from our team

The first thing to do is to ensure that Show Warning Manager is checked in UI dropdown so that

You will be aware if something went wrong during the export. For example you will see in this log if something is not supported in FBX export and is not (or partially) exported.

3ds max animation ui warnings settings

After that, you need to check what is globally used in your 3ds Max scene and what is actually animating your model. 3ds Max has some features and tools to animate models and skeletons, that are not supported in FBX. It means that if you export your scene as FBX, these modifiers and their effects will be lost in the ouput FBX.

To avoid this, you may need to use (in some cases) the Bake Animation option in FBX Export settings. The goal of this option is to convert almost all animation to simple keyframes animation so that everything can be packed in FBX and read by other plugins.

3ds max animation fbx settings step

Obviously, ensure that Animation and Skin/Morph exports are enabled in Deformers dropdown.

Also, note that Point Cache animations is not currently supported on Sketchfab (as for constraints).

Known issue:

You might see that the baking makes your model vibrate during animation. The cause is not clear, but it comes from the 3ds Max baking function. If you experience this issue, try to change the Step parameter in Bake Animation for something higher than 1. To give you an example, using 10 instead of 1 should be ok.

Have more questions? Submit a request

Comments

  • Avatar
    protofactor

    so no way of setting up multiple takes export from 3DS max? that's such a shame. Other software can do it. Would be great if you guys can create a fbx animation timeline splitter tool to create multiple takes directly from the server.

  • Avatar
    James

    @protofactor - We've looked into it, but it seems like it's not possible natively from 3ds Max at the moment. There's a plugin to do it, but it's not free. It should also be possible to script it.

  • Avatar
    protofactor

    @James - Really a plugin? I know that on the wiki some people were talking about a multitake exporter for 3DS max, I tried it, but without any luck. That one was free... Can you please point me to this paid one so that I can take a look?
    Thanks a lot for your quick reply.
    Bet,

  • Avatar
    James

    @protofactor - Let us know what you think: http://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/701878

  • Avatar
    protofactor

    @ James - interesting, did you guys try it already? I know it's pretty cheap but if I can avoid wasting my time more than my money , it would be great. I'm on 3DS max 2015 on my end.

  • Avatar
    protofactor

    @James - going to try the trial one, just to see if that works.

  • Avatar
    James

    @protofactor - Sorry, no one here has tried it :-/

  • Avatar
    protofactor

    @ James - Ok, so the plugin works for 3DS max. The trial one doesn't work because it's up to V2014, but the paid version works perfectly for V2015. Also, on a side note, I had to export the "take001" animation in order to have everything working fine. Just need to take it out of the list in the Sketchfab editor. I think you should mention that on this page. Cheers. Btw, it takes a long time to import an animated character with a decent amount of motions. That must be the way it's processed I guess.

  • Avatar
    James

    @protofactor - Nice, thanks a lot for the details. I'll add a note right now.

  • Avatar
    digibuild

    Hey Guys, I found a way to make it work right out of the box, for free, in MAX2016

    1. Click on the GameExporter (where File and Edit menus are lined up).
    2. From the Dialog, go to the Animation Clips tab.
    3. From here you can slice your animation from the scene.
    4. If you need, you can modifiy you mesh export settings with the cog at the bottom right

    This will export animations as well as mesh. A bonus, the Static pose will be the T-stance, not the first frame of the animation

    Check it on my Ork character

  • Avatar
    James

    @digibuild - Super cool! Thanks for sharing the workflow. I'll add this to the article :)

  • Avatar
    ROBOTMAK

    Did you guys find any solution to refuse the vibrating problem on baked animation yet ?!!

    actually, I think this is not the max issue, because I test the FBX with "fbx review" and it plays absolutely smooth.

    Beside, the vibration increased by the higher step on me !

     

  • Avatar
    James

    @ROBOTMAK - Can you post a link to the model so we can have a look?

  • Avatar
    digibuild

    @robotmak I don't know what kind of 3D you have a problem with. So I'm assuming you're trying to import a character animation.

    I did not have any vibrating issue, with many tries!

    I'm trying to think about things that may lead to "vibration".

    1- Character away from the center of the scene. Or when a child is very far from it's parent. True for translation, less for rotation values (like the many joints of a character)

    2- Guns. Sometimes having an accessory placed in the hand of a character will create vibration. You can even see this in big budget games. When a position/rotation constrain is applied to a gun, the baking will try to follow the hand at every frame. Higher baking steps will be less precise. From what you said, the opposite is happening in your case (strange!).

    3- Gimbal locks. Does not create vibration per say, but tweaks the orientation at some ball joints (shoulders, thighs). Again less visible at higher sample rate. But if the orientation is in the sweet spot for a gimbal lock failure, for a prolonged time, you can get wrong interpretation (from any 3d software)

    4- Wrong scale. If your human-sized character is actually 200 meters high in your scene, you're removing 2 decimals worth of precision.

     

    Hope this checklist helps!

  • Avatar
    ROBOTMAK

    @James, Hi, for example this is the model I have talked about. (look at the "tail" of the robot)

    https://skfb.ly/6oCMI

  • Avatar
    ROBOTMAK

    @digibuild thanks for your explanation. I left a link up here.

    actually all the objects which linked to the bones (the joints at the "tail" of the robot) are vibrating after uploading. vibrating is not so much but recognizable. 

    also test it with both MAX 2014 and 2017 in "game export" and regular export too. all of them vibrated in same manner. 

  • Avatar
    digibuild

    @robotmak Yes I see. Although it's hard for me to be 100% sure without looking at the skeleton, it may be due to gimbal lock.
    In short how to fix: look at each of your object orientation (XYZ axis) and make sure every local pivot orientation are roughly the same. An offset of 90° might be enough to trigger this issue. So if your base has its z axis looking up, make every z axis on all other bone look up as well.
    The issue occurs between the frames. The higher the sampling is, the faster the vibration will feel. Low sampling will feel more wobbly.
    If that fixes it, you could turn off the baking and you would not see any difference, except for the weight loss!
    Let me finish with a word about the dreaded gimbal locks. They happen a lot on character animations. Why in this day and age, are we still plagued by them? In short, math. Computer have a real hard time with rotation. Using XYZ coordinates, computers can only do one thing at a time. That is, first turn x, then y then z. Sounds good, until you realise those are not the local XYZ of the object you use, but it's parent's !!! So your animation key instructs a very simple rotation from angle A to B, but the computer executes with a deviation in the middle. That's is the vibration/wooble that you see.

  • Avatar
    ROBOTMAK

    @digibuild thanx for you descriptions, but I still have problem with vibrating models.

    Could you give me an email address that I can send you a 3D file to take a look at the skeleton please. 

    P.S I'll Leave you a message in your facebook too.

  • Avatar
    James

    @ROBOTMAK @digibuild we have several fixes related to vibrating models coming in the next release - ETA tomorrow. It should fix your models, but you will need to re-upload them.

  • Avatar
    ROBOTMAK

    @james, thanks so much I will try it