I wanted to do a quick post on working with .FBX as an interchange format and talk over some uses and how we have used it in the past.
Both on this DVD project and the character rigging book I wrote, the character creation process happened in several software packages by many diffrent people. FBX let us work this way and not worry to much about getting the files back and forth between Maya and Max and MotionBuilder.
- The mesh was built in Maya, (but could come from any where)
- Exported as FBX
- Imported in to Max- UVs were created and textures were done
- Exported out as FBX
- I had all ready started skinning the mesh in Maya, so I imported the FBX file and copied the skinning on to the textured final mesh from Max.
- I also use the FBX export and import process to check the mesh during building of the model to check for normal/scale/bad geo issues, much like you would with the .OBJ format
- Mesh and Skeleton Built in Maya
- FBX out to MotionBuilder to start rigging prcoess
- Final skinn weighting and texturing were done in Maya
- Final chracter exported back to FBX to update the rigged file in MotionBuilder
Some other notes about FBX. There is an option to install it in to Apple Quicktime Player, this has a few nice bonuses.
- Any one that needs to see a model or animation or pre-viz can use Quicktime to open the .FBX file, but they can't edit it and they don't need to have MotionBuilder,Max,Maya etc. installed to do it.
- This is a full 3d viewer inside quicktime so it saves the trouble of having to render out previes or genereate a whole seperate set of content for approvals or presentations. Letting the production file and the aproval files stay up to date
A few more ideas of how you can work with FBX.
- Animation transfer- I like to use FBX as a fast way to save and load animaiton data between Maya files instead of useing other animation saving tools. It will only load data on to attributes that were animated.
- Skinning- Max has some nice skin tools and it is for some people faster to skin and edit weights in MAX than Maya. An artist I worked with uesd this wrokflow since he was faster in MAX and it worked well.
- Point Cache- For rendered scenes you have the option to cache out data from all 3 apps to FBX and this lets you animate with all the rig and deformation tricks of your software and then just export the animated mesh to render where you want.
If you have not used FBX in a few versions , give it a second chance as there are lots of updates and more features making it a great option for helping your art team work in the software of there choice. How ever you end up useing FBX make sure you read the help files and do some tests in your own pipeline as well as check for updates often.