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Exporting DAZ-Figures with all textures to MotionBuilder

Author: meryadoc

Tools Needed

* DAZ Studio

* FBX-Plug-in for DAZ Studio

* Photoshop (or other graphics program)

* Autodesk MotionBuilder (PLE or full Version)

Introduction

If you import your *.fbx-file in MotionBuilder you will often recognize some mistakes in your models textures. Imported characters from DAZ Studio have unnatural eyes, the eyelashes and/or brows are black and flat or invisible and the hair looks flat and not very naturally. The reason for this is a different method of using transparency information in MotionBuilder and DAZ Studio or Poser. MotionBuilder gets its transparency information from the alpha channel of the texture files. DAZ Studio and Poser use transparency maps in separate *JPG-files. Both, the transparency map and the alpha channel, use simple grayscale maps to define whether a pixel of a texture is transparent or not. Black color means the pixel is fully transparent, white means the pixel is fully visible. Grey colors lead to a partial transparency of the corresponding pixel in the base texture. Since the information in the alpha channel is the same as in the transparency maps you must only create an alpha channel in the base texture file and transfer the transparency map to the alpha channel. At last you have to change the shader in MotionBuilder, since the default shader does not calculate and show transparency at all. This tutorial will show you one method of how to do this. It works with the free PLE (Personal Learning Edition) of MotionBuilder, but there should be no difference to the full version.

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Step 1 - Configure the FBX-Export

First load/build a scene of your choice in DAZ Studio.

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Then click File – Export and choose FBX 6.0 as export format. Choose a directory and file name for export and click save. In the following menu with the FBX-Export-Options choose the following options:

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Click Accept and save your FBX-File.

Step 2 - Transfer transparency maps into the alpha-channel

In this next step you will create an alpha channel in the texture files and copy the transparency map in this new channel.

You'll have to do this with all textures in your scene using transparency maps. The FBX-Exporter-Plug-in has created a separate folder with copies of all textures. So you should find the textures easy.

Which textures have to be adjusted depends on which textures in the exported models use separate transparency maps. This differs from object to object. Mostly you can identify the transparency maps by an additional 'T', 'Trans' or 'Tr' in their file name. If there is no base texture for a transparency map or you are missing a transparency map for a base texture, refer to the hints mentioned below.

If you use human models like Victoria from DAZ you'll have to take a look at the following texture files for adjustment:

- Lashes

- maybe Eyebrows

- Eye textures (eye surface, pupil, iris, sclera, cornea, tear); not all of these textures use transparency, so you won't have to manually adjust all of them. If you're not sure, refer to the surfaces tab in DAZ Studio and look if the textures contain a transparency map or not.

- Hair

- maybe some parts of clothes and props

The steps to create an alpha channel and transfer the transparency map are as follows:

- Open the base (colored) texture in Photoshop. (Note: You can use any other program that supports alpha-channels and saving Targa-Files. The following steps will then be a little different, but similar.)

- Click Selection – Select All (or press Ctrl + A with the textures window selected)

- Click Selection – Save selection as

- Leave all options in the next window as they are and click save

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- Photoshop now creates a new channel for the texture file called 'Alpha 1' (the others are RGB (for Red, Green, Blue))

- Switch to the channels tab and click the 'Alpha 1' channel to work with it

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- Open the transparency map file

- Click Selection – Select All (or Ctrl + A with the transparency maps window selected)

- Press Ctrl + C to copy the map to the clipboard and close the transparency map

- Switch to the Alpha 1 channel of your base texture.

- Leave the channel options as they are and press Ctrl + V to copy the transparency map from the clipboard to the Alpha-channel of the base texture

- Click File – Save as and save the file as a 32-bit *.tga file with Alpha-Channel and without file-compression

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- Repeat these steps with all texture files that should contain transparency information

Step 3 - Import your FBX-File in MotionBuilder

Start MotionBuilder, Click File - Open and open your exported FBX-File.

In MotionBuilder you'll find all imported textures and texture-areas in the textures folder in the Navigator window.

Step 4 - Swap textures

Open the Texture settings of the first texture you want to adjust by double-clicking on it in the Scene browser. In the Image Preview area you should see a preview of the current used texture image. By selecting either the RGB or Alpha radio button you can preview the RGB or the Alpha channel of the loaded image. The Alpha channel preview should actually show complete white (this means the texture appears not transparent in rendering).

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Click on the Media menu under the image preview and select 'new media'. Browse for your new texture *.tga file and click apply. In the Image Preview area switch the radio-button to 'Alpha'. You should see your new transparency map for that texture in the Preview window.

Repeat this step for all textures containing transparency information. Some texture areas on a model use the same texture file. You have to apply the new texture to all these areas.

Step 5 - Apply a lighted-shader to your model

You will recognize that your objects appearance in the Viewer window seems not to be affected by the new textures. The transparency is not visible at all.

The reason for this is, that the default shader of MotionBuilder doesn't affect the alpha channel with the transparency data. You will have to apply another shader..

To do so, open the template folder in the Asset browser. Open the shader folder and drag a Lighted Shader asset *) in the Viewer.

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Drop it on top of the selected object and a contextual menu appears. Select 'Append' to add this shader to the existing shaders on your model or 'Replace All' to use the new shader instead of all other shaders applied to this object. (Note: You will have to detach the default shader manually (see Step 6))

In the Navigator window open the Shaders folder and select the new created shader named 'Lighted'. Open its settings by double-clicking. In the Transparency Type menu of the Shaders settings select 'Accurate Transparency'.

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You can adjust the transparency value of the shader by the transparency factor slider. Normally you will leave it at its default setting of 1.0.

*) Instead of the Lighted shader you can also use a Flat shader asset. The Flat shader colors your object with a flat color that is unaffected by the lights in your scene.

Step 6 - Deactivate the Default Shader

Still your model will still not show any transparency effects. This is because the Default shader of MotionBuilder is still activated on your model and so the new Lighted shader cannot produce proper results.

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The default-shader cannot be deleted, but you can detach it from your model. Expand the shaders folder in the scene browser and right-click Default Shader. Select 'Detach Shader from all objects' from the contextual menu.

You can also select an object in the scene browser, right-click the default shader and select 'Detach Shader from selected Objects' in the contextual menu. So the default shader will remain on all not selected Objects in your scene.

Step 7 - Work with MotionBuilder

Your model should now use the correct transparency maps on all adjusted textures.

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Although this tutorial used a human model as an example, you can use this method for all imported 3D-objects that use transparency maps.