MotionBuilder 6 Review: A Creature of Character
Talking Story The Pro Advantage Conclusion Sean Wagstaff is currently the senior technical artist at Double Fine Prods., spinning effects for the game Psychonauts, and previously worked as a film technical director at The Orphanage. He is always looking for cool gigs.
MotionBuilder offers an intuitive interface for setting up multiple cameras and sequencing in a story timeline. Like a non-linear editor, this lets you cut from one camera to the next, and can be associated to separate animation takes. So in the example of the escaping villain in the truck, the first camera might be an aerial shot of the character running and jumping, while the second camera could cut to the character landing and rolling on the roof of the truck. Since the animation of the roll could be a separate take, meaning it doesnt have to connect to the animation of the run-jump, you can easily create different takes of the landing animation, to quickly visualize new versions of the action.
MotionBuilder Pro has all of the features of MotionBuilder Standard, and adds some advanced functionality, which may justify its extra cost to intensive production environments: motion capture data mapping and editing and optical data clean-up; support for asset management systems, including Alienbrain and Microsoft VSS; Python scripting; and support for NVIDIAS CgFX shaders and the OpenReality SDK, which allows for the creation of custom plug-ins. Alias also offers a run-time engine that allows game developers to use MotionBuilder inside a game, for realtime IK effects.
Even with the availability of animation systems such as XSI, 3ds max and Maya, theres still room for a character-animation-only application. MotionBuilder Pro 6 is not a replacement for any of the above systems, unless realtime rendering, such as for previs or output of Filmbox-format animation files (for games) is as far as you need to go. In fact, Alias should really consider adding some of the essential missing features to MotionBuilder, such as skeleton creation and skin weighting. Then again, unlike general-purpose 3D animation systems, MotionBuilder is highly refined at its specific task, and is an excellent alternative to tools that arent focused on fast and easy character animation.
The Pro Advantage
Sean Wagstaff is currently the senior technical artist at Double Fine Prods., spinning effects for the game Psychonauts, and previously worked as a film technical director at The Orphanage. He is always looking for cool gigs.