Rigged 3d Objects

I am familiar with cinema 4d and after effects. However the rigging setup for hitfilm seems to differ quite a bit. I have fully rigged characters, and monsters and such. Although I can import them most of them when they are rigged have no set attachments for joints of the character. For example if you move a forearm of a character it floats independently from the rest and doesn't stay attached at the elbow. Is there a setting or a tutorial video somewhere that would help explain this animating a rigged 3d character? Is there additional software required to make an animated 3d character then import to hitfilm? I would like to animate the 3d model in actual composition and not deal with another program then import. I have no problem with solid objects but for a little more life like feel to a video, like something to interact with the rest of the world enviroment.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hitfilm is primarily a compositor and effects program, not a 3D animation program. While it has the ability to import and animate models, it's lacking any kind of bones, IK, mesh deform, or collision physics--the kinds of things that make character animation easy. The short answer to your question is that Hitfilm isn't suited for character animation, but can do a good job using models for set extensions, and do a great job of bringing in rigid-body elements like cars, helicopters, spaceships and other objects that have limited animation.

    I can also pretty much guarantee that bones/IK/mesh deformation/object physics will not be added to Hitfilm Pro 3. That would be a fundamental overhaul of the 3D functions of the software, which Simon Jones has stated elsewhere on these forums isn't going to happen mid-life-cycle. It's a possibility that some sort of bone/IK rigging, or being able to import animation data from external software might be added to Hitfilm 4, but we won't find out any new Hitfilm 4 features until shortly before Hitfilm 4's release. In the past, FxHome has been on a roughly two-year release cycle, so a reasonable guess for HF 4 would be November of 2016.

    Now the long answer, which is a bit of a discussion...

    First let me toss up Simon Jones's tutorial on Model Import--this was a Hitfilm Ultimate 2 tutorial, but nothing's changed in Pro 3 (other than the colors and fonts of the UI).


    Right, so as Simon's video shows, and you seem to have figured out, you can import models and define animation groups upon import. If you have a model that's imported as multiple pieces across multiple files you can load each piece into the same layer to create a single object layer. Simon, in the tutorial, directly animates the rotors of the copter.

    What Simon doesn't cover is that each animation group/model in a model layer can be individually parented to points. This means that you CAN create a "Skeleton" point-rig with a master point at center-of-mass, and shoulder points parented to the center, elbow points parented to the shoulders, etc. However, because Hitfilm lacks true bones and IK, you can't (as you've observed) pull a forearm and have the shoulder come with it---you'll just detach the forearm. If you work from the center out, you CAN do limited character animation, but you'll just be hard-keyframing joint rotations, and things like walk cycles where you're trying to keep a foot steady on the ground are tedious.

    To demonstrate, here's a test animation I did of a Dalek.


    As you can see, I have the Dalek gliding forward, it's head rotates, it's eyestalk, plunger and gunstick wiggle. I could certainly do "character animation" for this Dalek, but the setup was a little tedious:

    I imported the Dalek model into Hitfilm--first thing to set up was the Animation Groups. The way the original modeller had grouped his mesh meant I had to create many, many animation groups. Just looking at the head, the Dome, the Eyestalk base, shaft, discs, and eyecup, the flashers, and the flasher mounts all were separate groups....

    So, first I created the master Dalek Point for the entire Dalek and adjusted the overall anchor point where the X and Z axis were at the centerpoint of the head dome. The Y axis is centered at the base of the gunstick and plunger (This Dalek will eventually be used in flight... If it were being rigged for ground-only work, I'd put the Y axis center at the bottom of the skirt. Of course, anchor points can shift as-needed).

    Next I created a Head Pivot point, centered XYZ in the Dome. This point is parented to the Dalek Point. Then I parented the Dome, Flashers and Flasher Base to the Head Pivot. I created an Eyestalk Pivot point and centered it at the base of the Eyestalk. This Eyestalk Pivot is parented to Head Pivot, and the Eyestalk Base, Shaft, Discs and Eyecup are all parented to Eyestalk Pivot.

    So--this completes the rigging for the Dalek's head. I have three points: Center, Head Pivot and Eyestalk Pivot, but note that I had to rig from "center-out." and that I was having to rig three or four bits of geometry to each point.

    It was about like that to rig the gunstick and plunger up.

    So: This is about as complicated as I'd want to push Hitfilm for character animation. A Dalek isn't that complicated, but if I were trying to do this with, say, an Iron Man armor, then I'm going to have to rig up a lot more points, and still have to work center-out.

    As, as you can see, following up this kind of rig on, say an airplane if I wanted to animate wing flaps and tail rudders won't be too hard to set up, but if your goal is to do full character animation, you're still going to have to do that in another program, then import into Hitfilm for compositing.

    Does Cinema 4D export camera data in .ma (Maya) format? If so, you could do your character animation in C4D and export those passes, but also export your camera, so you could do all your background models and environmental work in Hitfilm, just comping in the characters?

    Sorry, I know this wasn't the answer you were hoping for, but it still comes down to Hitfilm's primary design function is as a compositor and VFX program, that just happens to have basic editing and 3D Model support built it, and not as a 3D animator that happens to do basic compositing. There still isn't a true "all-in-one" photo/video/compositing/effects/titling/3D animation programs anywhere on the market at any price, and to be blunt, I don't see one happening for a long, long time! Hitfilm is, overall, about as close as one is going to come, with the other big option being, of course, After Effects with Element 3D and Trapcode Particular. AE E3D and Particular will give you about 1-1/2 times the power of Hitfilm at four times the price.


  • edited July 2015

    Thanks so much for the quick response. I honestly figured that would be the jist of it in a nutshell. I was just curious for the most part if maybe I wasn't seeing an option somewhere but I guess not. I am more familiar with AE just figured I would check out HF3Pro as I heard some awesome and seen some awesome things done with it. Was kind of hoping it was a " best of both worlds " type thing. LOL in short time to hit the lotto and get Lightwave or Maya and buy up ILM and maybe a mega rendering studio hehehehehe. For now I will just stick to planes, helicopters, spaceships, and green screen monsters in a matte. Thanks again on the reply.


    As far as C4D's exporting options, they are .3ds .abc .xml .bullet .dae .x .dxf .fbx .ai .rib .st. .wrl .obj

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited July 2015

    .fbx should allow you to export your camera in a format Hitfilm can read. I found this Creative Cow thread on exporting a C4D camera to Maya.  https://forums.creativecow.net/thread/19/869509

    And this: zuperdk.blogspot.com/2009/08/camera-export-from-c4d-to-maya.html?m=1

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