Alembic in Blender

JCL_Films
JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast
edited November 2015 in General

I know this question was bound to come after Hitfilm 4’s release, so here we go.

All 3d animating that I do is in Blender. I am supper stoked about Alembic support in Hitfilm. However, I don’t believe there is official support for Alembic export in Blender at the moment. If anyone knows of an add-on or can show a work around, I (and I am sure many other Hitfilm/Blender users) would be very grateful.

Thanks

Comments

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast
    edited November 2015

    "I don’t believe there is no official"

    Wow.

    I mean - I don’t believe there is any support in blender.

    Hitfilm 4 has me all excited.

     

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,275 Power User
    edited November 2015

    I think this discussion on a different forum will be helpful. 

    blender.stackexchange.com/questions/32478/new-xcode-wwdc15-export-from-blender-supported-formats-alembic-abc

    In brief, if not implemented yet, then soon. Devs are working on it. 

  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast

    Yeah, we were surprised that Blender didn't already have Alembic support. Seems like something the open source community would have embraced early on. Hopefully the devs will be able to implement it soon, at which point Blender will be a lovely companion app for HitFilm users.

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    Yes,

    It would seem to be a match made in heaven. Hope it happens soon. I was looking for an FBX to Alembic converter, but to no avail.

  • LandonParks
    LandonParks Posts: 22
    edited November 2015

    @SRSSStudios:

    You won't find one. FBX and Alembic are entirely different formats, and there is more to it than just a conversion. In reality, the entire software needs to be able to calculate the Alembic data, and would be hard to implement in a simple converter.

    In other news, Alembic IS available in Daz Studio as a plugin. So if you really need to import animations, you could also export from blender into Daz, do your animation there, then export Daz as an Alembic file that is brought into Hitfilm.

     Edit: Didn't realize the Daz exporter was so expensive: http://www.daz3d.com/alembic-exporter-for-daz-studio

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    Update for Blender users.

    Blender version 2.78 is almost out and it has Alembic import and export support.

  • JMcAllister
    JMcAllister Posts: 589 Enthusiast

    "Blender version 2.78 is almost out and it has Alembic import and export support."

      So excited now...

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    And boom...there it is: https://www.blender.org

    I think that the Alembic import feature in Hitfilm is about to get used a lot more.  

     

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,367 Expert
    edited September 2016

    "I think that the Alembic import feature in Hitfilm is about to get used a lot more."

    That could be a scary thing. For the FxHome staff that is. No matter how much you test, you never know what permutations us wackadoodles will come up with.

    I've been on the receiving end of that. 

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    Yeah, I can imagine. I am sure it is being tested by the community right now. I hope that there are some tutorials along the way for the best workflow between the two programs.

    I was intrigued when FXhome described Alembic as offering the ability to create (basically) 3d stock footage. That would be cool to look into (I am picturing recycled game animations), however, I can’t think of any website that sells or hosts animated Alembic files. Anyone have an idea?    

  • Stargazer54
    Stargazer54 Posts: 3,889 Ambassador

    @SRSStudios 3D stock footage is a great idea! 

    The nice thing about Alembic and HF is that once you have your model imported and shaded the way you want in HF, you are then able to use it over and over again without duplicating work there.   All you have to do is apply an updated Alembic file for new motion.

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    I wish I could take credit for that idea, but as I have said, FXhome coined it.

    Now that I think about it, FXhome used to have a video stock footage resource called AlumDV (or something like that). I wonder if something similar could be created for Alembic files? Most 3d applications support them (at least now ). Because of this, it is possible that it would become a future form of 3d products (like what Videocopilot does with their 3d asset packs).  

    Imagine 3d packs for crowd simulations, FPS hands and weapons, destruction simulations, etc.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,275 Power User
    edited October 2016

    The problem with that is (I believe) that Alembic animations need to be attached to the models they are created with/for. 

    I think the file format's purpose is to embed animation data in the model for ease of asset management when passing an asset between artists or studios. 

    I do NOT believe it's possible to (as an example) take an Alembic animation of a dancing girl and apply that to a T-rex model. 

    I suppose it would be possible if both models were created by the same modeler who made certain the rig matched. 

    This is all phrased in a fuzzy manner because I really don't know. It's speculation. 

    I think "animation stock" is a great idea and probably exists at a studio level, but Alembic probably isn't the right tool to bring it to the masses. 

    Of course my speculation is based off specifications. 

    http://www.alembic.io/

    Edit. Ok, let me rephrase. One could have 3D stock with Alembic, but, since Alembic "bakes in" animation (and lights, camera and materials) to a model, one could have 3D stock of, say, a crowd sim. However, every user of that crowd sim will have the exact same models and animation. Editing is going to be limited to moving the camers and lights around or delving into the materials settings of the model for direct tweaks. One could not take a crowd sim of orcs and map the data to a crowd of Stormtroopers. So, yes, 3D stock is possible, but it's "WYIIWUG"  (what you import is what you get).

    Useful for many things, but inherently limited. :-) 

    On the other hand, time to update my Blender! 

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    Yes, the fixed animation would be the greatest limitation. If the pack was big enough though (variety), it might still sell well. For instance, a character pack could contain one model (say a Storm Trooper with around 12 animations). One can find these types of packs in the game engine communities like the Unity Asset Store (although they are not in Alembic due to the required rig in the game engine). Plug that into either a crowd simulator in Blender or go straight to the particle system in Hitfilm.

    I suppose a workaround right now would be to bring in to Blender an animated character (in whatever the animation file is), tweak the animations to taste, and then re-export it into Alembic for Hitfilm.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,275 Power User

    @SRSstudios I think that Alembic bakes in animation as mesh deformation and doesn't store rigging and animation parameters (according to description at alembic.io) 

    So I don't think one could modify an Alembic animation in Blender.

    I've never messed with Alembic, so I tag @Aladdin4d and @Spydurhank for more insights. 

  • Yeremyah
    Yeremyah Posts: 995 Enthusiast

    With latest version 2.78 Blender, it now has brand new basic Alembic support through import and export operators, and data streaming through cache constraints and modifiers.

  • JCL_Films
    JCL_Films Posts: 159 Enthusiast

    Triem23,

    What I meant is that one could buy an animated character pack from a store such as Unity 3d Asset Store. The file will come in as an FBX which I believe is editable. Then when you are done, simply export out of Blender as Alembic.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,275 Power User

    @SRSstudios thanks for clarification. That's not a bad idea at all! 

  • Messen
    Messen Posts: 85 Enthusiast

    I don't think we can create an open library with character animations. I don't think anyone can with alembic. But, maybe, I hope so there is a way to make some gizmos and background items like an animated button, a hud, a starship cockpit or something like that.

  • FlyingBanana78
    FlyingBanana78 Posts: 512 Enthusiast

    Alright well I just tried using a self created 3d object in blender (simple cube no UV's ) exported the object as .obj then animated the object in blender and once that was done I selected export alembic, Now in that option there is settings to the bottom left where you can set what you want the alembic file to have applied and the length of frames of the animation. That was all good and fine but when I go into Hitfilm I can import the cube and the alembic file but it will not let me drop it into the animations dropdown for the 3d cube. Also the time listed for the 250 frame alembic file is 1 second at 29.97fps

    That all being said I do have a dragon object that was created in Cinema4D that also came with an alembic file and I can use that just fine in Hitfilm. Is there something I am missing here?