Maya ----> UT2003 Character Model Tutorial
By Sundeep Dass
www.sunny-d.com
funkadelicdass@yahoo.com
Written March 2, 2003

ActorX for Maya

Ok, so by now you should have a fully textured model with all the animation sequences completed. Time to load up the ActorX plugin. If you don't have ActorX yet, get it here

To load the ActorX plugin, go to Window --> Settings/Preferences --> Plugin Manager

Find the ActorX tool in the plugin list, then click the "loaded" box next to it. Close the plugin manager.

In the command line (white box in the lower left of the interface) type: axmain
That should bring up this box:

Ok, so let's slow down a bit. You'll notice that the axmain interface is split into 2 sections, the top being "mesh" related and the bottom being "animation" related. What you are going to be exporting are two files, a mesh file, which will contain the poly and vetex weights data, and an animation file, which will contain all the data for all your animated sequences. UnrealED will take both of these files and "merge" them together to make your UT2003 ukx animation file. This means that you can bind 3 unique models to the same skeleton, and have them all use the same animation data. This is how UT2003 default characters work, but for now, we're matching up one model to one set of animations, so let's get to it.

Exporting the Mesh (PSK) File
Right now, I'd open up your original "bind pose" file with your character fully bound to your skeleton. You could probably use any pose for your reference pose, but to play it safe, use your bind pose.
At the top of the axmain interface, next to "output folder" there's a button labeled "Browse" Click that button and choose a destination folder for your mesh file (which for now on will be referred to as your PSK file). It doesn't matter which folder you choose. For the purposes of this walkthrough, I made a folder called "Freakstuff" on my desktop (because my model will be called Freak, remember?)
Now, type in a name for your PSK file. I'm going to call my PSK "FreakMesh". Make sure that your character, and the skeleton it's bound to, are the only objects in your scene, then click the "Save mesh/ref pose" button. You should get something that looks like this:

Congradulations, you just exported your PSK file. ActorX dumps a log file when exporting, so if it didn't work for you, check your output folder for the log and try to find what went wrong.

Exporting the Animation (PSA) File
In the "animation file name" box, type in a name for your PSA animation file. When you are finished compiling your animations, ActorX will dump this file in the same folder as your PSK.
Close the ActorX menu and load up one of your animation files. As long as you don't restart Maya, ActorX will save all data you put in for output folder, sequence name, etc. Just type in "axmain" again to bring the menu back up.
For however long your current sequence is, make sure those frames are displayed in the timeline before you export. ActorX can become ActorCrash if you don't do this.
Under "animation sequence name" type in (you guessed it) the sequence name. Make sure it's case sensitive, and exactly the same name as the corresponding sequence listed in UED.

Under "animation range" type in the first frame where your animation starts, type a dash (-) then type the end frame of the animation. Example: your sequence is 30 frames, but you started it at frame 20 in the maya file. type "20-50" in the animation range. Now click the digest animation button and ActorX should "scrub" through the animation and give you a pop up like this:

**A note about cycle animations: If your cycle animations have the same pose at the beginning and end frame of the sequence, you'll want to not include that last frame of your sequence when exporting. UT2003 will play both the beginning and end frames in a sequence in-game, so you'll see a brief pause in your animation since it's essentially playing one frame twice.

Repeat the animation export process for each of your sequences, for every ten or so you process, click on the "animation manager" button to save your PSA. Here's how:

The Animation Manager

You should see your digested sequences in the big column to the left. If you click on a sequence in that column, info on that sequence will pop up on the Animation Properties section on the far left. The only thing you really need to concern yourself with is the "rate (frames/sec)" box. This always should default to 30, but go through your animation list you made (you made one, right?) and type in the frame rate you want that sequence to play at.
When you are done adjusting all your sequences, select them all, then click the Move arrow that is pointing to the "Output package" column. All those sequences should now be moved over to the output packages column.
In the bottom right corner of the output side, you'll see the name you chose for your PSA file. Now hit the "save" button and ActorX should record a PSA file in the same output folder as your PSK.


Need more help with actorX for maya? Check out the ActorX maya tutorial at UDN.

Ok, so when you're done exporting all your animations, you'll have a PSK file and PSA file all ready to take into UnrealED. This Concludes the Maya section of this tutorial.

Next Page: Gettin' Things Straight in UED...

Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9