UPDATED: How to Use Mocap Files in Maya, BVH or FBX




For those with an FBX file, skip to the next step.

This tutorial is made for Maya 2013, but I believe it should work in 2010-2015.

Good resource for open source mocap data: Original FilesConverted to BVH

Since many users were having difficulty using the fbx converter from Autodesk, I've found another method. This method is actually better, I believe, since it runs natively in Maya as a small script file which takes up less room and improves workflow. The python file is an attachment on the instructable. To install put the py file into your Maya script directory (documents/maya/scripts). Now open up Maya and at the bottom of your window there will be a text entry field. To the left of that it will say either MEL or Python. If it says MEL, click on the words MEL. Now copy paste the following into the text field

import bvh_importer


Now you can hit enter to run the script once, or preferably highlight the text you pasted and middle mouse click and drag the text onto a shelf of your choice at the top such as the animation shelf for quick access.

Here are the links: install instructions additionally, here is the github where the project is located.

Motionbuilder also works to convert the files using the file>motion file import and then exporting it as fbx.

Step 1: Import the FBX to Maya

For those using an fbx file, first make sure that the Maya fbx importer plugin is loaded by going to WINDOW->SETTINGS/PREFERENCES->PLUG-IN MANAGER and checking the box to load the fbx importer (for me it is called fbx Maya).

For those with the importer script simply click on the shelf icon you created or enter the command into Maya. Browse to the file and enter the appropriate information for your rig. (default should work)

Step 2: Define Skeleton

Now, import your fbx file using FILE->IMPORT.

Once your fbx is loaded, go to the animation menu set and then select SKELETON->HUMAN IK

Step 3: Assign Joints

Now, in the character panel navigate to the definition tab and select a joint and then select it's corresponding joint on your rig. Now right click on the joint in the character panel and select assign selected joint. Do this until you have all of corresponding joints from your rig mapped out.

Repeat the procedure of defining a skeleton and then mapping out the joints with the motion capture character skeleton.

Step 4: Make the Fbx Drive the Main Rig

Now in the character panel,  simply select your control rig in the character drop down menu and then select your motion capture rig in the source dropdown menu.

If you did everything correctly, when you press play your character should move the same as the motion capture rig.

Hope you guys enjoyed this quick and easy tutorial! Share any cool animations that you make with this!



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    10 Discussions


    6 months ago

    Great! Awesome!! Nice script.. Still works in Maya 2018. Just installed as instructed above and it Worked. If anyone having mess with bone / weird result after importing .bvh file, change the rotation order it will work. Default XYZ order didn't work for me then i have changed it to YXZ and worked fine. Thanks for the script.....


    4 years ago on Introduction

    i downloaded the converter from your ad link and there is no where in it to convert bvh to fbx. it can load all other files :(

    5 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, sorry I thought it could. It's been a while since I did mine. I can't remember what file type I used. I did a Google search and it seems as if blender may be able to convert bvh to fbx. You may want to do more research on the subject.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction


    would you please help to convert *.bvh into *.fbx?

    it would be really appreciate.




    Reply 2 years ago

    Hello. I would like to know if you could please help me to convert .skm motion into .bvh. I tried, but when i try to open in Motion Builder it gives an error that the file is corrupted.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I know this is a bit late, but I've updated the instructable to make it more efficient easier for people. I found a script to replace the converter program.


    Nice job with your modelling project - thanks for sharing it on instructables. What do you think you are going to publish next?

    2 replies

    I'm open to suggestions. I can't do any motionbuilder at the moment because my graphics driver is acting up, but I can make some Maya stuff if anyone wants.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    do you think you can help me with my bvh files? to bake in a maya rig and help clean up with my animations?