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Import Export Cinemachine Cameras to Maya + After Effects + FBX. Bake Camera Keyframes?

Discussion in 'Cinemachine' started by josterday, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. josterday

    josterday

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Posts:
    9
    We've looked everywhere for this workflow, but there seems to be a shortage of information.

    Problem:
    - Export Cinemachine camera(s) to Compositing software (After Effects)


    We need to pull the camera data from our Cinemachine timeline into our Compositing pipeline and can't find a reliable solution. There are FBX roundtrip walkthroughs, but none of them discuss how to export a working Cinemachine timeline into Maya / After Effects / C4D.

    As it stands, the only workaround is to use a linked prefab instance on a standard camera that is keyframed in either Maya or Unity. But, my assumption is that you wouldn't be able to use those keyframes within timeline, since that is conducting the animation track for the camera's parameters.

    Ideally, you would right click a CM camera and say "Export to FBX" and that would bake the camera's PTZ/PSR into keyframes for Maya to then export. We don't want to lose the flexibility of making realtime camera adjustments within Cinemachine, but we also need to composite these cinematics within our post pipeline.

    Thanks!

    Edit: Currently, Maya does not see any animation keyframes on the camera that is imported with FBX Exporter, so either there's an additional step needed in the plug-in or a different workflow with Cinemachine specifically.
     
  2. Mad_Banny

    Mad_Banny

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2018
    Posts:
    1
  3. josterday

    josterday

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Posts:
    9
    Does Alembic support Camera import/export from Timeline? Looking through, it seems to be specifically for Alembic files.
     
  4. josterday

    josterday

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Posts:
    9
    Bump on this. Any method to export Cinemachine cameras for Compositing workflow?

    This is the last piece to us completely moving to a Unity pipeline.
     
  5. markvi

    markvi

    Unity Technologies

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2016
    Posts:
    33
    Hi, can you clarify if you want to export individual Cinemachine vcams, or just the resulting camera controlled by the Cinemachine brain?

    If it's the latter, the FBX exporter now supports cameras and animation. It's still in preview, but you can still install it with Package Manager as long as you don't mind editing the package.manifest by hand: #309
    There should be a demo video in that thread, too.

    We don't have any way to export individual Cinemachine vcams, although I suppose you could put a deactivated camera component onto every single vcam with a MonoBehaviour that sets its properties to be the same as the vcam. The exporter should then be able to export those cameras.
     
  6. josterday

    josterday

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Posts:
    9
    Hi, thanks for the response. Thought I would jump back in for updates since I'm hearing this issue echoed from a lot of fellow 3D artists and compositors who (unfortunately) aren't touching Unity/Cinemachine.

    We want to export the resulting primary camera controlled by Cinemachine. This needs to be a keyframed camera via FBX. The issue seems to be confusion over whether the FBX Exporter Plugin supports "baking" the Cinemachine camera animation and how to actually properly export a camera (in general). We seem to receive mixed results from the FBX that Unity spits out and the walkthroughs that have been posted aren't clear enough.

    Edit: Just to specify -- Do we select the primary camera with the CM Brain and do "Export to FBX"? Or do we do the VCams? Anything specific for "Transfer Animation"? Export format?

    When importing into Maya, the camera appears, but contains no animation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
  7. josterday

    josterday

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Posts:
    9
    Bump. Any guidance on FBX export and Cinemachine?
     
  8. josterday

    josterday

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Posts:
    9
    Bump again with an update:

    We tried using the recorder's option - "Animation Clip":
    - Add Primary CAMERA (with CM Brain)
    - Setting Recorded Targets to EVERYTHING
    - Record Hierarchy ON

    This spits out an .anim of the camera with baked transforms. But now what? The thought was maybe creating an empty game object and parenting a new camera to it. Then apply the .anim to the empty (or the camera).

    This would create an actual object with the transform data to be potentially output as an FBX. But...no luck. Maya, C4D, nothing recognizes any keyframe info when we output an FBX of the camera. We get the Camera object, but no transforms.

    Any insight into HOW FBX EXPORTER WORKS is greatly appreciated.
     
  9. vkovec

    vkovec

    Unity Developer - FBX Exporter

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2017
    Posts:
    147
    Hi @josterday,

    You have the right workflow:

    1. bake the animation of the CM Brain camera with the recorder
    2. add the baked animation to a new camera in the scene and export the camera*

    *Alternatively you can also export the recorded animation from the timeline:
    1. create a new camera
    2. add it to the timeline with the recorded animation
    3. select the recorded animation and from the top menu select GameObject > Export Selected Timeline Clip...

    Here is a video that also shows the workflow (from 0:19 - 0:47):


    As for not seeing the animation in Maya, would it be possible to send me the recorded anim file?

    Here are also a few things to try/check:
    1. check that the animation applied to the new camera can be played back in Unity (otherwise it will likely not be found by the exporter either)
    2. create the new camera at the scene root instead of parented under an empty object and apply the animation directly to the camera
    3. try unchecking "Record Hierarchy" in the recorder when recording
    4. when exporting the new camera, check that in the Export Options either "Animation Only" or "Model(s) + Animation" is selected under "Include".

    upload_2018-11-9_15-22-2.png

    Best,
    Viktoria
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018