August 15, 2018

Stream MotionBuilder animation to Unreal Engine with Live Link

By David Hibbitts

MotionBuilder, known to its users as MoBu, has long been a favorite of character animators, whether working with motion capture data or animating by hand. Now, with the MotionBuilder Live Link plugin, there’s no need to export/import MoBu data to Unreal Engine while you’re working - you can stream MoBu motion capture and animation directly into Unreal Engine and preview it in real time.
The free Live Link plugin has been production-tested and is ready to use with Unreal Engine. “We've used the plugin on four of our virtual production shoots in the last couple of months, all of them streaming our mocap into Unreal Engine,” says Richard Graham, CaptureLab Studio Manager at creative house Framestore. “If you're used to using MotionBuilder with live mocap, it's very easy; you're just using the HIK tool to push motion from source to target. It just works.”

Visualization house THE THIRD FLOOR uses MotionBuilder Live Link to control multiple Unreal Engine sessions at a time from a single MotionBuilder machine, generating a live composite, projecting accurate shadows, and controlling lighting elements. “The ability to retarget animation and blend clip changes while seeing the high-quality render in Unreal Engine improves the overall animation workflow and turnaround time,” says Addison Bath, Global Head of R&D at THE THIRD FLOOR. “Live Link is a great platform to empower our rapid visualization workflow.”  
MotionBuilder Live Link in action
The MotionBuilder Live Link plugin works with Unreal Engine 4.19 and above, and is offered free of charge. To get the plugin, download MotionBuilder Live Link from GitHub. For information on installing and using the plugin, see the topic Connecting Live Link to MoBu in the Unreal Engine documentation.

Live Link is a framework for which MotionBuilder is just one integration. If you have custom external software or hardware that you want to interface with Unreal Engine, you can write your own plugin that integrates Live Link and get all the same benefits. See our Live Link Plugin Development Guide for details.