Recently I have used Mixamo motion capture animation sequences in both game development and 3D art. – Currently Mixamo is available free for anyone with an Adobe ID and does not require a subscription to Creative Cloud.
Mixamo animations are more commonly applied to ‘skinned’ models, however they can also be applied to models that are composed of different 3D shapes, which can work well for something like a basic robot or droid-like character. This can also be an easy place to start when learning how to build a 3D character for a game as it does not require some of the more advanced 3D modelling processes normally required for skinned models, such as weight painting.
I decided to put together a basic example robot model, created in Blender (3.1) with the body parts attached to a standard Mixamo armature in T Pose. The idea is that this file can be used as a starting point or reference for building your own robot model and also for learning how to import, apply, and export Mixamo animations from Blender.
Below is an interactive demo of this model with some basic blending of the animation sequences, created in Three.js (Open in new tab). Here the model has been exported in GLTF format, and imported using Three.js with separate files containing the animation sequences only.
Just for reference, the process I used to create this model in Blender was:
- Downloaded Mixamo Y-bot, FBX for Unity, 60fps, T-Pose, without skin
- Imported the FBX file into blender with automatic bone orientation, and ignore leaf bones selected
- Added basic 3D objects and parented them to the individual bones
Please note, I included a hidden sphere object attached to the spine in the chest that contains vertex group data. The only reason for this is because I found it was necessary in order to access the ‘skeleton’ utility in Three.js from a GLB file exported from Blender.
The general process for working with this file would be to delete the example objects and attach your own objects to the corresponding bones in the armature. First select the object to be attached, then also the base armature, then go into pose mode and with both the correct object and the correct bone selected, command / control – p, parent to bone.
To import and apply different animations from Mixamo:
- Download the animation sequences (without skin), using the same or similar format as described above.
- Import the FBX file into Blender with automatic bone orientation, and ignore leaf bones selected.
- With the imported armature selected go into Dope Sheet – Action Editor and rename the action to something more readable, eg ‘Jump’ etc
- In the Outliner (with the imported armature selected) – Delete Hierarchy, to delete the imported armature. (We don’t need the new armature, but the new animation will remain).
- Select the original armature of your character and in the Action Editor (in the drop down menu above the timeline) you will be able to switch to the different animation sequences imported using this method.
Here are the links to download the Blender files 🙂
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