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 File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc 
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:50 pm
Posts: 561
Post File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc
Hi topic is intended to discuss and share information about motion control file transfers to and from 3D programs such as Blender, Cinema 4D, LightWave, Maya and 3D studio Max etc. Relevant motion control programs are Mantis, Dragon Frame, Kuper and Flair. If anyone likes to add to the list please do.

As background I am the author of Mantis, but I do work with other moco programs such as Kuper and have some knowledge of Dragon Frame. In 3D I am familiar with 3D studio Max and Maya, but not an expert in these - just enough to work with camera animation as it applies to motion control.

My list of 3D software and known built in file format options relevant to motion control :

(others may be available as addon scripted functions such as Python etc.)

IMPORT
Cinema4D .fbx .asc .chan .csv .mov
Blender .fbx .chan
LightWave .fbx .chan
Maya .fbx .ma .mov
3D Max .fbx

EXPORT
Cinema4D .fbx
Blender .fbx .chan
LightWave .fbx .chan
Maya .fbx .ma .mov
3D Max .fbx

For LightWave you must use this script for .chan (Nuke) files :
http://mentalfish.com/2010/06/chan-import/
It includes scale but the script could be edited easily to remove this...


Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:57 pm
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:50 pm
Posts: 561
Post Re: File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc
Ok I will kick off with a little bit of information that I recently discovered.

Right now Mantis, Kuper and Flair all share some common file formats for swapping motion control data, but none are common with Dragon Frame.

So what to do? Well it turns out DF can export an Xsheet which is in fact a .csv file (comma separated) and can be loaded straight into Excel. It can then be edited and resaved in other formats.

As an exercise I created a move on several axes in Dragon Frame and exported an Xsheet. After opening it in Excel yiou will see columns which contain the motor position data for every frame of the move. These are not key frames but the interpolated values for the whole move - one for every frame. This is the information that a 3D program will need to translate your move with complete accuracy.

So to convert the file I have to edit the spreadsheet.

First I delete any columns of data in the Xsheet which are extraneous leaving only the columns of motor data.

Next I delete the first row which is a header to identify the columns - this is not needed and it may cause an error.

Finally I choose file\export\ "tab separated .txt" and save the file. Close Excel and rename the file suffix to .mov and that's it.

Now I can load this to Maya or any 3D program that supports .mov.

For other file formats like .chan, which Blender can read, you'll also need to retain the column with the frame numbers...

Can the inverse work too? Well sort of. You have to export a dummy .arcm from DF.
Then reformat your data adding extra info, and paste into the dummy file.
This can be tedious but can be scripted in Excel if you are really keen...


Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:01 pm
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Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:18 pm
Posts: 1294
Post Re: File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc
Hi Gerald is their any chance of some form of video tutorial on this subject . In my case i just find it easier to understand. Although i have been called a "special case "many times :D


Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:47 am
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:50 pm
Posts: 561
Post Re: File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc
Hi I don't really have time for that. If you try the process as described and have any particular trouble then you can come back... I don't describe the 3D end of it because there are plenty of guides online for this. Knowledge of your favorite 3D application is assumed.


Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:19 am
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:50 pm
Posts: 561
Post Re: File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc
Update :

Mantis currently supports direct export and import of these file formats. :

Nuke/Houdini .chan (widely supported by plugins in LW Blender etc.)
Kuper .asc (legacy format but still some plugins around that support it.)
Maya .mov (peculiar to Maya for camera animation - not to be confused with quicktime)
Maya .ma (Also known as "Maya Ascii Move file". Can also be used with Adobe After Effects.)*

* .ma contains the whole scene information so files can be quite big.


Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:56 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:49 pm
Posts: 175
Post Re: File Transfers between 3D and Mantis, Dragon Frame etc
I suppose I should give this a go. I have been having fun with my rig using the Mantis and Maya workflow so I guess I should try the DragonFrame equation.


Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:28 pm
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