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Under Construction
How to export BODY animation from a MetaHuman source file in Maya to Unreal
HOW TOs > MAYA

If you’ve animated a MetaHuman source rig in Maya, how do you transfer that animation (the BODY animation of it; for FACE the process is here) to Unreal and apply it to a MetaHuman?

The following process assumes you’ve already imported a Maya MetaHuman source rig (instructions here) and animated it (optionally, by applying a HumanIK (HIK) rig – instructions here).

So as of February 2024 (Maya 2024 and Unreal 5.3.2), here’s the process:

  1. CHECK FOR KEYFRAMES:
    1. In the Maya Outliner, twirl down the object “root_drv”.
    2. Click on various items within it, and check that there keyframes on the timeline. If not, you need to first bake your animation to the skeleton.
  2. EXPORT BODY ANIMATION:
    1. Make sure your scene length is only as long as the animation – to avoid unnecessary processing time later.
    2. Take a note of your Maya scene’s FPS – you’ll need to match that later in Unreal.
    3. Click on “Body_joints”, then right-click and choose “Select Set Members
    4. Open the FILE menu and click the BOX next to ‘Export Selection…’
    5. In the dialogue box, under GENERAL OPTIONS, change the File type dropdown to “FBX export” then click “Export Selection
    6. In the next dialogue box, under FILE TYPE SPECIFIC OPTIONS, change the Current Preset dropdown to “Autodesk Media & Entertainment
    7. Under ANIMATION, enable the “Animation” checkbox
    8. Under BAKE ANIMATION, enable the “Bake Animation” checkbox
    9. Make sure that the Bake Animation in and out frames are the full length of your timeline
    10. Under CONNECTIONS, disable the “Input Connections” checkbox
    11. Name your FBX, including the MetaHuman body code (eg. ‘StretchAnimation_MayaMH_m_med_nrw_forUnreal‘)
    12. Click “Export Selection”

  3. CHECK THE OUTPUT FBX:
    1. Go to the START menu and open a fresh MAYA session
    2. Go to FILE > IMPORT… and find the FBX of the body animation and open it
    3. In the Outlinerclick on the “DHIbody:root” item and press H to unhide
    4. In the Viewport, zoom out so you can see the skeleton
    5. Press play on the timeline to check that it works
    6. If it doesn’t, it might be because of a persistent bug in Maya! To fix that, QUIT OUT OF MAYA and open Maya again. And try the process again of importing it and see if it works.
  4. SETUP A SEQUENCE IN UNREAL:
    If you don’t already have a Sequence with a MetaHuman, you’ll need to set one up.

    1. Open Unreal Engine and import a MetaHuman (via Quixel Bridge)
    2. Add the MetaHuman to your scene, and zero out its transform (ie. the location, rotation, scale in the details panel)
    3. In the Outliner, click the floor object (if you have one), and zero out its transform as well (it defaults to a height of 20 for some reason)
    4. Now in the content browser, create a folder for SEQUENCES and create a new Sequence in it (right-click and go CINEMATICS > LEVEL SEQUENCE)
    5. Open the Sequence, and change the FPS to match your Maya scene earlier
    6. Go to the first frame (0000), drag the Blueprint from the Outliner into the Sequence
    7. In the Sequence, under BODY, delete the “MetaHuman_ControlRig” layer
  5. IMPORT THE BODY ANIMATION:
    1. In the Content Browserright-click and choose “Import to /Game/…
    2. Open the body animation FBX you exported from Maya
    3. At the top of the dialogue box, click RESET TO DEFAULT
    4. Under MESH, change the SKELETON to ”metahuman_base_skel
    5. Under ‘Advanced’, change CUSTOM SAMPLE RATE to match what it was in Maya (do NOT leave this field blank)
    6. Click IMPORT ALL
    7. Once it imports, make sure to go FILE > SAVE ALL to save the imported file.
    8. You MUST now open the newly imported animation, then change the ‘Retarget Source Asset‘ dropdown to the name of your MetaHuman body size. Otherwise the MetaHuman will be dramatically taller than it should be, and the bones all the wrong length. Then click SAVE and close the editor window for the animation. 
    9. In the Sequence, on frame 0000, click “+TRACK” on the BODY track, then hover over ANIMATION, and choose the clip you imported.
    10. You will need to adjust BOTH the Sequence ‘End Time‘ and ‘Selection End‘ to match the length of the clip you imported – otherwise it won’t fully play.




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