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  3. Furniture – Custom Poses (Blender)

Furniture – Custom Poses (Blender)

Furniture – Custom Poses

For greater interest or interactivity furniture can include custom avatar actions in the form of static or statue poses that make the avatar appear frozen in time. For Blender users this is a two part process that requires the furniture to be modified, which is itself then used as a guide in creating an associated avatar pose. Both parts, the furniture item with seating and the separate avatar pose, are then exported and assembled in Create mode.

Download the avatar pose file here.

Overview of a static pose in Blender showing 3D View and Action Editor
Pose overview

Overview of static pose production in Blender showing the pose and furniture item in the 3D View and accompanying sequence in the Action Editor below.

Furniture set-up

To add what is in effect a custom pose to furniture the seat node/s associated with the pose will need to be modified slightly. This means changing the append, by default either *.Sitting or *.Standing, to something more appropriate, for example *.Stoolieyoga – if the furniture item had a single seat this would be seat01.Stoolieyoga. This node will then need to be parented as normal to Root (or other bone where animated). This initial steps helps later when assembling the parts together in IMVU.

For more information on adding seats to furniture click here.

IMPORTANT

Node names are caSE sEnSITive.

Set up furniture so seat node has a custom unique name
Seat Proxy

The most important aspect of furniture with custom poses or seating is to ensure the seat node is given a unique append instead of .Sitting or Standing.

Pose file set-up

Once the furniture is set up in can be imported into the pose file that contains the avatar using Append. This will act as a guide. Here the seat node (seat01.Stoolieyoga) and furniture are positioned relative to the avatar so they both face in the same direction (they face the direction the avatar is expected to appear) – seat node needs to be placed exactly at grid centre, 0,0,0, matching the avatars skeleton root, Female03MasterRoot. This is important. With this done the avatar skeleton can be posed in Pose Mode , individual bone manipulated into position, automatically inserted into the Action Editor timeline below as a sequence.

IMPORTANT

The pose starter file is ready to use on opening so that posing (manipulating) a bone will automatically insert the necessary keyframe data into the Action Editor sequence below. Do not modify Female03MasterRoot.

Align furniture proxy to avatar pose (Female03MasterRoot)
Seat position

Once the furniture is set up, the seat node and mesh can be imported into the Pose file with Append for pose creation – seat node is aligned to Female03MasterRoot and grid centre.

Pose reset (fbx only?)

For static poses to export correctly to FBX the sequence needs to be set-up so that; 1) the pose is duplicated to another frame, and 2) the pose is completely reset. Both ensures the export/import pathway parses the file properly. So, once the initial pose is created at frame 1, whilst still in Pose Mode select all the Armatures bones, A, and copy (Ctrl+C)/paste (Ctrl+V) the data into another frame, 10 for example, creating a second keyframe duplicating the pose. In one more frame, e.g. 15, clear all pose data using Pose » Clear Transform » All to reset the skeleton. There should then be 3 poses across 15 frames.

IMPORTANT

When select and clearing pose data make sure the mouse cursor is over the 3D view.

Static pose sequence in Blender
Sequence

Even though the pose is static in IMVU, in Blender its a sequence that comprises several frames, a set of duplicates and a reset (both required elements).

Export

Once the sequence is available it can be exported. In Object Mode select the Armature and export using File » Export » FBX (.fbx). In the File Browser that opens, bottom left make sure Selected Objects is enabled in Main and the options for Animations are set as follow;

Baked Animations		(Yes)
Key All Bones			(Yes)
NLA Strips		(No)
All Actions			(Yes)
Force Start/End Keying	(No)

These settings force Blender to parse sequences as individual tracks in the exported FBX file rather than collated together, which IMVU cannot use.

For more help exporting to FBX click here.

IMPORTANT

If Selected Objects is not active all objects in the scene will be included at export, which can be disabled from use upon import into IMVU.

Blender FBX settings for poses
Export settings

To export the pose animation properly a number of specific setting need to be enabled/disabled forcing the sequence to be saved as an individual track in the resulting FBX file.

Import

To assemble the furniture item with custom pose in IMVU the two fbx files need to be imported into the same project. Derive a furniture item and import the furniture FBX first. Check which assets are imported, set the Apply scale value to 0.01 then import. This will replace the default items assets.

For more general help importing FBX furniture files click here.

Next import the pose. Follow the same procedure but when the the Select Skeleton Root pop-up appears, disable Hide [n] skeletons that contain no meshes and select the entry with 86 bones (86 bones, 0 meshes). Continue the import process; check the animation is brought in (listed under Actions/Animations); change Apply scale to 0.01 and then complete.

IMPORTANT

The furniture and pose files are generally separate to accommodate complexity, a furniture file may contain a lot of animation data not applicable to the pose so not necessary for its export.

FBX import settings for Blender exports
FBX import

When importing the pose FBX into IMVU disabled the ‘Hide’ option in Select Skeleton Root so the appropriate skeleton can be selected (86 bones).

Assembly

Once the two FBX files have been imported into the same project click Apply Changes to make sure they are available for assembly. To link the pose click the actions tab and create a new action, Action 0. In Action Parameters set;

Action Parameters
- Trigger:		stance.Idle
- Type:			Avatar
- #ensembles player:	0 (infinite loop)
- After Playing:	Pick same Ensemble

This sets up the overall Action. Next, the Skeletal Animations options. First select the animation from the drop-down, e.g. T-Pose-PelvisNode and set Composition to Replace. Finally because the sequence loops over a number of frames and only one or two are needed, set # loops to 0 and select a Loop start and end range that will show the pose as being static (even though its looping across a few frames), e.g. Loop start: 2, end: 8.

Skeletal Animations
- XAF:			T-Pose-PelvisNode (example)
- Composition:		Replace
- # loops:		0 (example)
- Loop start:		2 (example)
- end:			8 (example)

When the avatar is moved to the custom spot the animation will play as a static pose until the another spot it used.

IMPORTANT

After modifying project options click Apply Changes to ensure they’re usable.

Settings for a static pose exported from Blender
Action settings

Once both FBX files have been imported into the same IMVU project (derived furniture item) an Action needs to be set up, trigger by a word or phrase, or automatically with stance.Idle.

Updated on September 24, 2018

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