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Building a control rig using a pre-exisiting skeleton?

Hello! I’m a 3D animator who recently got hired on a small indie game team that’s looking to re-rig their player character model with a more robust control rig and I was hoping to ask about mGear’s capabilities in that regard.

Full context: The original rig the team has been using so far is a simple biped and was built with Maya’s HumanIK rigging system (very bare bones in terms of functionality, and a little funky and unintuitive to use as an animator imo). My lead has asked me to test out re-rigging the player character with a better auto-rigger, but since they’ve already made certain player animations using the existing rig, he was hoping we could find an auto-rigger that could build a control rig using the skeleton we already have, so we don’t lose the animations that already exist. The game is being built in Unity; I have a generalist degree and am much more of an animator than a rigger, but it’s my understanding that as long as the bones are named the same and placed in the same positions on the rig, Unity won’t be able to tell the difference.

I’ve used other auto-riggers before (TSM, Rapid Rig, and Advanced Skeleton) but I’ve never heard of running an auto-rigger on a pre-existing skeleton made without using using said auto-rigger’s built in template/skeleton setup. My gut instinct is that keeping our existing skeleton won’t be possible if we want to rebuild the rig, so I wanted to try gauging the feasibility of this request. Or, to ask for general advice on how to use mGear in a way that would minimize the loss of the existing player character animations in the probable event that we would need to rebuild the player skeleton in order to re-rig.

Any insights greatly appreciated!

You can keep your existing skeleton.

The basic idea is to snap mGear components to the joint positions of your existing skeleton. I’d start with the Epic Y-Up template.

Build the rig and then constrain your existing skeleton to your new joints with maintain offsets enabled. Make sure you set the orient constraint to shortest.

Now, you can use the new 4.2 HIK retargeting features to push existing animations from your existing animation files onto your rig, as they already have a HIK setup.

You should get pretty good parity between the rig and the previous HIK animation.