Topping & Tailing In MotionBuilder 2010: Story Method


  • I’m trying to base my characters on the Base Human CAT Rig from 3dsMax 2012 so that the bone names are consistent. I dont know yet about the skeletal root. 
  • You need a mesh which has been characterised. 
  • Assume that for 1 performer will have imported all mocap, made an actor. used the mocap to drive that character and then plotted the mocap to the skeleton then saved all the individual takes.
  • Change motionbuilder layout to ‘Story’
  • in the Asset Browser chosse your character (with no mocap) and drag into 3d window. Choose ‘No animation’
  • First were gonna make a start /stop position.
  • in Navigator/Story, make sure Story is active (Click ‘Story’ Button so its blue) Rclick blank area below and Insert/Character Animation Track.
  • Choose the Character Track & Change the pulldown next to Character to <YourCharacter>
  • In the Asset Browser drag one of the individual mocap takes onto the story timeline.
  • You can also just add the character to the scene then drag a motion take onto the lower timeline in the story window. it will create a chartacter track that uses your character.
  • Remember !! if you characer does not move, is the ‘Story’ button blue
  • Remember !! if you want to save this file you will overwrite your character file so do a SAVE AS <YourName>_StartStop_Maker
  • You can select the clip drag it up and down and use the Razor (scissors/film icon) to trim it, use the scissors to cut it. You can Rclick it and choose Frame Start/End to make the Transport Controls match the length of clip
  • Choose a frame you like the look of for start and end postion use the scissors to make a cut. Before the clip in the blank area is where there is no motion, the character is stuck in place. – This is what we will use to make a new clip. Keep the timeline cursor in this blank area
  • Select the clip and on the Show/Hid Ghost button on Character Track (looks like an eye) Hi ’t’ for translate and move the clip to 0,0,0 and hit ‘r’ and rotate it to face Z. (In part 2 by forcing all the the other clips to match the pos and rotation of this zeroed clip we will be be able to make all the start positions the same and have the same pose. )
  • Select the clip and drag it along the timeline so there is at least 600 frames before it
  • Set the transport controls to have 600 frames
  • Select the Character Track (where it says Character Track, it highlights green), Rclick and choose ‘ProcessTracks/Subtracks to New Clip’. IT will give you the option to save a new clip – This will be you Start/Stop clip. 
  • Then because the stupid fucks have changed it in version 2013 select the processed take track in story window, make sure its Solo’d, not mute, then select the skeleton and go File/Motion File Export. This will give you a skeleton with a stop pose on it.

Trim to StartFrameimage (Trim1frame.png)


  • make a new file
  • as before Drag your character into the 3d window
  • Then RClick in the bottom part of Story window choose Insert /Character Animation Track. 
  • then drag your StartStop take onto the Character Animation track, then set the Character to <yourCharacter>
  • drag the take you want to edit after it <yourtake>
  • butt the two files up so its Start/Stop|<yourtake>, then drag <yourtake> over StartStop. The overlap is a blend and you will probably see sliding as the takes arent in the same place
  • We need to rotate and translate <yourtake> so it is facing the same way as StartStop
  • To do this select <yourtake>, click the Match button. In the Match Options under Match Object choose a body part for me, my StartStop has its RFoot on the floor, so to avoid slipping I pick the RFoot.The hips might also be good. Then if the other settings are set to:
  • Match Clip: To Previous Clip
  • Match Time: At End of Previous Clip
  • Match Position: TRanslation, TMethod XYZ and Rotation, RMethod Gravity XZ
  • This means that the whole of <yourtake> is rotated to match the end postion of the the StartStop with the RFoot used as the anchor point. This should give you a pretty seamless blend, you can drag the <yourtake> left and right to increase or decrease the transition and In the ‘Asset Settings/ Properties’ of the Clip change ‘Fade In Interpolation’ to say ‘Smooth’ to get a different blend. (image ClipBlend.PNG)
  • Now add the StartStop to the end of <yourtake> and in the same way described above match it to <yourtake>.
  • Then drag the overhanging bits of StartStop to the edges of <yourtake> then select all the clips and drag so that the start is on frame 0. look at the end of the take, if the frame number has an asterix after it, its on half a frame, so click the frame number and type in the nearest number (eg 4567* becomes 4567) – adjust the Start Stop if necessary.
  •  Rclick ‘FrameStart/End’ and then use  Plot whole scene to current take.’ & FrameStart/Stop -in the schematic view select the skeleton. Then hit File/MotionFile Export. It askes you to name the .fbx file, then In the dialogue you have to have either a prefix on the name (forcing you to rename the file later, or have no prefix –  in which case your take is called Take001 and you have to rename it anyway…This is of course in line with the Autodesk’s never one click when 23 will do policy of crap UI design….

repeat for all the takes.

clip blend