Importing Animation to 3ds Max

You can choose to import the entire contents of scenes saved in MotionBuilder, or only those elements whose names match elements in your 3ds Max scene.

The animation you import from MotionBuilder is fully editable in 3ds Max.

Import the animated character to 3ds Max:

  1. Start 3ds Max. On the Quick Access toolbar, click Open File. If the scene from the Creating Naming Templates lesson is still open, do not save your work.
  2. Open the scene file called Pepe_biped-PEPE.max.
  3. On the main toolbar, click Select By Name.

    The skeleton bones have the same PEPE prefix as the character you exported to MotionBuilder.

  4. Close the dialog. From the Application menu, choose Import.
  5. On the Select File To Import dialog, navigate to the MotionBuilder Files folder and open Pepe_biped_plotted.fbx.
  6. On the FBX Import dialog, scroll down to the Include rollout.

    The File Content list displays Add And Update Scene Elements by default. If left as is, this setting would import not only the Pepe character, but the yellow reference skeleton as well.

  7. From the File Content list, choose Update Scene Elements.

    This option updates only the scene elements in 3ds Max that share the same name as those in the imported file. No new elements are imported. If you were importing animation from MotionBuilder to a new 3ds Max scene, you would instead choose the Add To Scene option.

  8. Click OK, then OK again to clear the message informing you that the rotation limits of the characters in MotionBuilder and 3ds Max differ.

    This disparity will not affect the animation.

  9. Scrub the timeline to see how the MotionBuilder animation has been baked into the Pepe character bones.

Fine-tune the animation in 3ds Max:

  1. Go to frame 0 and zoom in and rotate around Pepe’s hands.

    Character fingers are too close to the thighs

  2. Expand the Motion Panel > Layers rollout and click Create Layer to create a new layer of animation.

  3. On the main toolbar, click Select By Name and select the PEPE R Hand bone.
  4. Right-click in the viewport, and from the quad menu, choose Move.
  5. Drag the hand away from Pepe’s body on its X and Z axis.

  6. Expand the Key Info rollout and click Set Key.

  7. Expand the Track Selection rollout and click Opposite to select Pepe’s right hand.

  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6, then replay the animation to see the result of your edits.


In this series of lessons, you took a biped skeleton with a mesh called Pepe and exported it to MotionBuilder as an FBX file. There, you characterized the biped bones using templates and scripts, and animated the Pepe skeleton by plotting it to another skeleton whose own movements were derived from motion capture. Then you baked the animation back to Pepe’s control rig, made a few adjustments so that the motion better fit his cartoon-like dimensions, and baked the animation back into Pepe’s skeleton for export to 3ds Max. Finally, you fine-tuned Pepe’s body motion using the fully-preserved Biped edit functionality.