Retarget This

Howdy, this week has been all about animation retargeting. I briefly covered it last week, but this week we may have made a promising breakthrough.

If all goes well, we can retarget EVERYTHING from the old project with minimal cleanup ( feet going through the floor, hands and weapons point the wrong way, etc.)
That means that unlike how it took roughly a week to get Dawksin back up and running, in 2 weeks we could have ALL of the enemies brought back.

Yeah I want that.

So with that great promise, comes a few…RESTRICTIONS. Lemme explain.

With the old project, most enemies and character had their own custom skeleton, each with their own animations. This made it really easy to keep a character self contained, but made it impossible to share animations across characters.

When we started working on the cultist, we made a decision to stick to one skeleton, and reused Dawksin’s skeleton, which was great, but it had the unfortunate side effect of keeping the original proportions.

He’s a bit short. Shoulders are lookin a bit weird. Its fine.

We kept going anyway and eventually the monster variant of the cultist

Ok, this might be a bit of an issue. He’s really short now. But maybe it’s fine?

Then the Constructor shared the same skeleton as well.
But…uh, the proportions thing became a bit more of an issue.

Can we keep it?

As much as I love everything about this, we couldn’t keep it.

So our solution before was to make custom animations for every character, even though they shared the same skeleton. This solves the proportion problem, but introduces a ton more work.

Enter UE5.

A New Hope

So with the new engine came a new way to retarget animations. The older version of the engine had this too, but the new one is MUCH better.

Like this but with options instead of guns.

One of the big advantages, is that if the two skeletons proportions don’t match, you can use IK for it to sorta figure it out. The idea is to have both skeletons have a goal, and then the IK tries to match it.

IK in Action

So we added them to the hands and feet, and just like that, we can fix incredible common problems across ALL OF THEIR ANIMATIONS.

No more floating feet at the click of a button.

Is this too good to be true?


Turns out there’s a huge problem. This system was intended for mostly human proportions, so when you introducing a character that towers above everyone else, it sorta breaks. Like really badly.

Uh oh

So its a bit of give and take. Good news is that it works for most characters, and for the big ones, we still have to fix them up manually, but its not as bad as before. With this research out of the way, we should in theory be able to add about 10 missing characters with all animations in about a week.

If all goes well, my next post will be glorious.

See ya’ll next week.