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Maya to Unity - Configuring Blendshapes for game Facial Animation?

polycounter lvl 9
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SuperSparkplug polycounter lvl 9

Hi there,

On the game my team is making in Unity, we have characters rigged and animated in Maya. This includes several facial animations done via blendshapes. By herself, she looks fine usually when placed into Unity when the game's not running.

However, whenever I export the character and put it into Unity with animations or even just looking in the Animation Import Tab, I run into various issues. As seen below she turns into various random weird eldritch horrors.

I was able to stabilze her to animate properly by fiddling with the file's Unity Import settings, though I'm not sure what I did. However, the one thing that wouldn't work is her Facial animations which are forever stuck in her default expression. Despite a string of animations in maya that run through all her facial animations, Unity doesn't sense anything going on there, even though it senses that the blendshapes exist in the hierarchy. I looked up that you need to access skinned mesh renderer to manually get to them, but none of the Skinned mesh renderers had a Blendshape option.

I recently figured out that even though the Blendshapes are sensed by Unity, I may not have ticked Blendshapes in Maya's FBX export settings. So I did that and overwrote the model and now I'm back to getting more random body horror. However this time I noticed that, unlike previously, Import Blendshapes in the Model section of the Import settings seems to be the trigger for this. With it checked off, the model imports and animates normally, sans the face. When it's on, it all breaks. When it is on however, I do get Blendshape options in the skinned mesh renderer, but it makes most of her just shrink for some reason instead. So, I figure something must be wrong with how the blendshapes are exported or configured potentially. So far, I've tried my usual troubleshooting methods, but nothing seems to change this.

This has been bothering me for a while, so I'd appreciate any help or advice here. We're still having other characters rigged and modeled so it would be great to develop some better practices so we can future proof this for our other characters if there's some steps we can take to prevent the issue.


  • Ghogiel
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    Ghogiel greentooth

    I think it would be a bit diffcult to diagnose whats wrong without looking at the maya file or at least the hierarchy set ups for the prefab in unity, but I think you might be on the right track thinking the blendshapes are some how borking things. If I understand correcly, moving the blendshape slider in the inspector doesn't play the morph as intended? if so it's borked. Either an export issue or something set up wrong in Maya that invalidates the blendshape at export.

    Secondly I have concerns about the hierarchy of things. I assume you have split the head to it's own object for best practice. (as you say you are doing face anims with the blendshaps only) The blendshape should not be able to affect the rest of the mesh, in fact it can't as the blendshape component should be on the head mesh and not the prefab parent or the body mesh. Assuming that's the case, you might want to redo the blendshapes and do some skin wrapping proceedure to salvage the work. And while there be triple checking transforms and zeroing everything before skin binding it again.

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