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Learn how Animation Rigging can level up animation in your project

, June 18, 2020

A year ago, Unity introduced a preview package called Animation Rigging, and we’re adding new functionality to it in 2020. We’re also sharing new presentations from GDC and Unite Now, which detail the expanded possibilities and show the creative potential and flexible workflows of this preview toolset for real-time films, AAA games, or smaller indie titles.

Animation Rigging Unite Now session

It’s never been easier to create believable and dynamic animations, and we want to help you bring yours to the next level. Already a fan? We have a Unite Now session coming up about animation rigging on Thursday, June 25th so mark your calendar.


The Animation Rigging package makes it possible to do both runtime rigging and animation authoring:

Runtime rigging is when skeletal animation is modified during gameplay using constraints such as TwoBoneIK or Multi-Aim as a post-process. In game development, it can be useful for scenarios like attaching hands to props or aiming a head to look at a specific target. It is also commonly used to set up deformation fixup, such as shoulder twist correction. All of this makes it possible to get more precise and higher-quality animation results that are tailored to your specific gameplay situations.

Animation authoring is when an artist creates new animation content. With the Animation Rigging package, it’s possible to set up control rigs with visual rig effectors using the Animation Rigging constraints – similar to how this often works in external DCC applications. Within the Unity Editor, you can create and edit keyframes in the Animation window, and you can also sequence and blend multiple clips in Timeline. The end result is a new skeletal animation clip that can be played back during gameplay.

Gawain (from The Heretic short film) is enhanced with an IK rig on his hand, which is being keyframed here directly in Unity’s Animation panel.

New features for Animation Rigging in Unity 2020.1 

We are excited to share a preview version of a powerful new set of tools for animation authoring in the 2020.1 release of Animation Rigging.

Freeform animation workflows are now possible using the new Bidirectional Motion Transfer tools. This addition gives animators more flexible workflows by allowing you to transfer motion between constraints and bones both ways:

  • You can bake skeleton motion onto the rig constraints, where it’s easier to make keyframe edits.
  • You can also bake the dynamic motion produced by the constraints onto the skeleton for more optimized performance at runtime.

These capabilities make it possible to modify existing animations inside the Unity Editor while building upon existing motion – which is great for cleaning up motion capture or creating custom motion variants.

For a more complete explanation of how you can use Bidirectional Motion Transfer tools, be sure to check out our new GDC presentation “Freeform Animation Rigging, Evolving the Animation Pipeline” (you can also find it on the GDC Vault).

We have also added the following automated setup utilities to make it faster and easier to build rigs in Unity:

  • Rig Setup
  • Bone Renderer Setup
  • Restore Bind Pose
  • TwoBoneIK – Auto Setup from Tip Transform

Animation Rigging use cases

One of our main goals has been lowering the barrier to creating high-quality animation. Animation Rigging is a powerful addition to a full animation workflow that involves several tools and potentially different people authoring the same animation clips. If your studio or project is smaller, you might be wondering whether this feature can be helpful to you. We hope you’ll join us for our upcoming session on Thursday, June 25th as part of Unite Now to learn more about how Animation Rigging includes solutions for animation projects at any scale. 

Animation Rigging is used to enrich character animations in a prototyping scene.

In this webinar, Lead Evangelist Ciro Continisio will show some interesting use cases and how to configure them. He’ll use both runtime rigging and animation authoring to demonstrate how the Animation Rigging package can enhance the motion of almost any type of game, even when animation resources are limited.

11 replies on “Learn how Animation Rigging can level up animation in your project”

It would be helpful if you explained/distinguished the relationship between this package and Anima2d, 2d Animation Package, and Unity Animation.

Hi Nick, sure thing.
Anima2d is an Asset Store package that was independently developed. Several years ago Unity acquired this and brought the developer on board to build what then became the 2D Animation Package. These are both specialized tools for 2d and are totally different from the subject of this blog. The Animation Rigging package that we are talking about here provides runtime rigging and animation authoring capabilities on top of Unity’s internal animation systems. This also happens to also work with the 2D animation systems. The final one you mentioned, Unity Animation is the still in-development new animation framework based in Unity’s DOTS (Data Oriented Technology Stack) that has not officially been released yet.

Is there any plan for timeline override tracks animation which can be transfered to skeleton? And I hope that timeline can support real animation layers that can “blend” variable animation tracks, not only “override”. If possible, Unity will be a very powerful tool for animators. Thanks!

Hey Bryan. Actually it is possible to transfer those keys, well, more than transfer I’d say “save them as an animation clip”. To do so, you just need to right click on the Timeline track you just keyframed and select “Convert to Clip Track” (…from Infinite track, that is).
Once you’ve done that, if you select that clip you will notice that is now an Animation Clip, but it’s embedded in the Timeline asset.
Go to your assets, select the Timeline asset and expand it using the little triangle, and you will see it inside there. Select the Animation Clip and choose Edit > Duplicate, and now the clip is ready to be used outside of Timeline and in other state machines!

As for the blending tracks, we’ll see… it’s not a super simple problem to solve, UX wise.

I’ve been very interested in this package, but having not animated before I find the tutorials assume a lot of knowledge about rigs I just don’t have. There is really no guide on how to integrate this with other code or in the state machine, or showing the bi directional motion transfer in actual use. So not easy for a newcomer to pickup the workflows easy.

I really want to make a charachter rig with this package though , so will stick with it, because it just seems like it’s amazing, and very clever.

My webinar (linked in the blog post, and airing in a week) will go over just this. I think it’s going to provide some of the knowledge you feel you’re lacking right now.

Uh-huh, but what about the initialization performance? The rigging package absolutely *tanks* the framerate in its OnEnable methods by rebuilding its playable animation graphs. It’s unbearable, one character with 3 rigs (2 hands and head IK) would create a 100 ms spike when initialized.

It’s because of this precise reason why we went with Final IK instead of the rigging package for our project.

Hi Nikolai, thanks for posting your feedback. The playable graph is intended to be initialized once at startup so you shouldn’t need to experience that performance hit subsequently. For cases where you need to assign new targets for example, our recommendation is to create proxy targets ahead of time and then align them when the location becomes available. I would like to hear more about your use cases and understand what you are trying to achieve. Would you join us on the forums to discuss in further detail? Here is a link to where you can start a thread and we will be glad to work with you

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