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Maya: Auto-Control Rig Script

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Summary

Mixamo automates a lot of the tedious work so you can focus on making great animations for your games and the Maya Auto-Control Rig Script is another tool in your arsenal.  With it, you can automatically build a control rig for any auto-rigged character, allowing you to adjust Mixamo animations or craft your own without the hassle of building the rig yourself.

You can always get the latest version of the auto-control rig script in the "My Software" section of the User Menu.

Download the latest version now!

Installing the Script

You'll first need the auto-control rig script which can be found in the "My Software" section of the User Menu or download right here. Download and unzip!

To install simply place the "MayaAutoControlRig" folder in your Maya scripts directory:

  • Windows: C:/Users/<User>/Documents/maya/<version>/scripts/
  • Mac:  /<username>/Library/Preferences/Autodesk/Maya/<maya-version>/scripts
  • Mac Yosemite:  /Users/Shared/Autodesk/Maya/(Version)/scripts

For easy use, we recommend creating a shelf icon.  Open the Script editor (Window > General Editor > Script Editor).  Make sure you are in the Python tab and choose "File > Load Script".  Select the Mixamo_Maya_Control_Rig_V_x.py" file and open.  The Python tab will populate with the script text.

mixamo maya control rig script

To dock the script onto a shelf press Control/Cmd + A to select all the text, then use your middle mouse wheel to drag the text onto the shelf and create a new icon.  We've created an icon for you to use included in the .zip!  You can now open the Auto-Control Rig menu any time by simply clicking the icon on the shelf.

mixamo maya control rig script shelf icon

 

Creating a Control Rig

To use the script you'll first need an auto-rigged character.  If you haven't auto-rigged before, we have specific tutorials on this automatic process which will build a skeleton and skin your mesh to it!

Download your auto-rigged character in .fbx format.  Your characters can always be found in the "My Characters" section of the User Menu.

mixamo autorigged character

Import your t-pose character .fbx into Maya. Click the script shortcut on your shelf to open the Auto-Control Rig Script interface.  Press the "Rig Character" button to create a control rig for your character.

mixamo maya auto control rig script

Your character now has a full control rig you can use to create custom animations with!  If your character was created in Fuse and had facial blendshapes enabled during auto-rigging then you'll also have a facial control rig added to your character.

character with control rig

 

Importing Animation to the Control Rig

You can create custom animations on the control rig but you may also want to start from an existing Mixamo animation and just tweak it!  You can import an animation directly onto the control rig.  Download your animation on your original auto-rigged character in .fbx format with the Skeleton Only option turned on.

mixamo download animation

Back in Maya - use the Python shortcut on your shelf to open the Control Rig script interface and navigate to the Animate Tab.  Click the "Import Animation" button and browse to your animated .fbx file.  The animated skeleton will be imported into the scene.

mixamo maya auto control rig animation

The animation is automatically imported and copied to your control rig and you can now customize it as you'd like.

animated control rig 

 

Using the Facial Control Rig

In Version 1.6.0 we've added a facial control rig to the script!  This is automatically generated for any Fuse character who has been auto-rigged with the "enable facial blendshapes" option.  You can manipulate the blendshapes of your Fuse characters using the simple visual interface.  Just click on the control and use the transforms to adjust!  

mixamo maya auto control facial rig

Most controls manipulate both the left and right side - such as Cheek Puff.  Moving the control up and down will manipulate the right side while moving left and right will manipulate the left.

facial control rig

Some controls manipulate a lot more - such as the Lip Sync control.  This will actually use smile, narrow, whistle, frown and jaw animations to give you full mouth control for easy lip sync animating.  You can use the individual controls to create asymmetry and fine tune.

facial control rig lip sync

 

Customizing the Rig with Utilities

You can do a lot to customize your character and rig!  On the Utilities tab are these additional commands:

Remake Mesh Infonode:  Your character need a new hairdo?  A cape?  Quite simply, this utility will let you tell the script about additional skinned meshes you've added to your rig.  That way they can be included in exports.

Make Extra Joints Infonode from Selection:  Just having the cape mesh isn't enough!  You may need bones for it too.  You can use this to let the script know about the extra bones you've added.

Make Dynamic Chain Rig from Selection:  This utility will create a dynamic chain rig from the selected joints, adding details like wispy hair or jiggling bellies.

mixamo maya auto control rig script

 

Using the Script to Export

When you're done creating or customizing your animations the script also includes options for exporting.  On the Export Tab you'll find the following options:

Remove End Joints:  By default, the Mixamo skeleton has end joints to terminate the fingers, head, and toes.  You can optionally remove these joints with this option.  As they have no skinning or animation information, they are not strictly necessary.

Reduce Keyframes on Non-Essential Joints:  Full keyframes will be kept on legs, spine and arms, while non-essential joints like fingers, toes and other extra joints added by you will have reduced keyframes.

Export Mesh with Skeleton:  This option will allow you to choose whether to include your mesh, skinning and blendshapes or to discard that and export only the skeleton.  In most situations when working with a game engine you will want your bind pose (tpose) character exported with mesh and your animations exported as skeleton only.

Dynamics Pose-Match Frame:  You can use this option if you've added dynamic chains with the Utilities.  This will determine how much to ease in the dynamics for looping to make sure your poses match up!

mixamo maya export animation

 

Batching

We've also added new batching options for importing and exporting animations in bulk.  Batch import and export will use the same settings that are on the Rig and export tabs.

Batch Importing:

First, select either the t-pose .fbx download from Mixamo or the Maya save file of a character that has already had the auto-control rig script used to rig.

Then, browse to the animations you want to use.  The browse option will ask you to select a folder and will give a list of all of the .fbx files available in that folder.  You can use shift and control selection to pick the files you want to use.

Finally, select a folder you want to save the imported animations for.  When you bulk import the character will be given a control rig and then each animation will be imported to that rig and saved in it's own maya scene.  If you've downloaded dozens of animations from Mixamo this is a great way to save time by getting all your animations setup for custom animations!  Batch importing takes about 30 seconds per imported animation.

mixamo maya control rig script importing

Batch Exporting:

After you've customized the animations in the maya scenes you can then batch export them to .fbx!

Browse to the animations you want to use.  The browse option will ask that you select a folder and will give a list of all of the maya scenes available in that folder.  You can use shift and control selection to pick the files you want to use.

You also have an option to create playblasts - quick rendered videos of each animation.  These can be a great way to quickly share the animation with team members.

Select the folder you want to save your playblasts and exported .fbx animations and hit the export button.

mixamo maya control rig script exporting

 

What Next?

 

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Comments

  • Avatar
    grps.inc

    Is there a tutorial involving adding dynamic joints to a character that is detailed enough to follow for a beginner? My characters hair and body won't update dynamics during playback in maya. I'm getting an error "...was unable to update frame too small?" We need a full tutorial on maya workflow with dynamics!

  • Avatar
    grps.inc

    There are clearly problems with the Mac file of this control rig script! Export problems along with dynamic joints not being recognized as well as a inability to get answers for people struggling with Mac versions of this! I wish mixamo would fix these problems soon and add jiggle bone placements to their auto rigger and save everyone the hassle of doing this in 10 steps compared to 1

  • Avatar
    grps.inc

    Mac users can't export skeleton only with this! It needs to be fixed!

  • Avatar
    mixamoactionpas
    Good day, I have a problem with a cloth physics. I tried using a plugin nvidea apex physx make physical cloak character in the animated mixamo. Everything is done on the lessons but the cloak does not change. How to solve this problem?
  • Avatar
    mixamoactionpas
    Good day, I have a problem with a cloth physics. I tried using a plugin nvidea apex physx make physical cloak character in the animated mixamo. Everything is done on the lessons but the cloak does not change. How to solve this problem?
  • Avatar
    mixamoactionpas
    Good day, I have a problem with a cloth physics. I tried using a plugin nvidea apex physx make physical cloak character in the animated mixamo. Everything is done on the lessons but the cloak does not change. How to solve this problem?
  • Avatar
    mixamoactionpas
    Good day, I have a problem with a cloth physics. I tried using a plugin nvidea apex physx make physical cloak character in the animated mixamo. Everything is done on the lessons but the cloak does not change. How to solve this problem?
  • Avatar
    mixamoactionpas
    Good day, I have a problem with a cloth physics. I tried using a plugin nvidea apex physx make physical cloak character in the animated mixamo. Everything is done on the lessons but the cloak does not change. How to solve this problem?
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