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How to Animate a Dancing Character With ActorCore and Blender for Free

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In this tutorial you'll learn how to use ActorCore to find and download characters and animations you need, for free. From there you'll learn how to import them into a project using Blender to create a video. The topics we cover here are:

  • How to download the 3D characters and animations from ActorCore
  • How to import the characters into your scene in Blender
  • How to apply your chosen animation to the 3D character in Blender
  • How to add a background image into the scene
  • How to create and render a video

What You'll Need

To follow along with this tutorial you will need your own version of Blender, which is a popular, full-featured 3D animation software that you can download for free at the link below. 

You will also need to create an account for Reallusion to access ActorCore. And lastly, you'll need a background image. I've used one that you can download from Envato Elements, or you can use your own. Click on the links below to download:

download empty blue living room backgrounddownload empty blue living room backgrounddownload empty blue living room background

1. How to Download Free 3D Characters 

Step 1

Once you have created an account with Reallusion, enter the ActorCore website, which can be found in the Products tab under Cloud Service or at https://actorcore.reallusion.com

Step 2

Here on the front page of the website you can see some offers and videos explaining how to use ActorCore. In the top menu bar click on either the Actor or Motion buttons to browse through everything that ActorCore has to offer. Let's start with downloading the 3D character by clicking on the Actor Button.

click on the actor buttonclick on the actor buttonclick on the actor button

Step 3

By default you will see all the items available. To narrow this down you can select a particular category by using the menu on the left. To download the free characters, click on the Free button. 

click on the free buttonclick on the free buttonclick on the free button

Step 4

For this tutorial we will use the item Party_F_0001.

select the character you want to useselect the character you want to useselect the character you want to use

Step 5

Selecting the character will open up a preview window, where you can use the navigation tools to see different views, or apply an animation to the model to test out what it looks like. 

Once you're happy with your selection, click on the Download button.

download the characterdownload the characterdownload the character

Step 6

Select Blender as your target application from the dropdown menu. You can also choose a texture size. A larger texture size will mean greater detail but it will have a greater file size as well. If you are unsure what size to use, choose Original and then click on the Download button.

avatar download settingsavatar download settingsavatar download settings

2. Download Free Animations

Step 1

Downloading the animations on ActorCore follows the same steps as downloading the 3D characters. First, select the Motion button from the top menu.

select the motion buttonselect the motion buttonselect the motion button

Step 2

Here you will see a thumbnail preview of all the animations available to choose from. To select the free animations, click on the Free button on the left. 

Now that only the free animations are displayed, it should be easier to choose which one you want to use for your character.

Step 3

If you select a particular animation you can even preview what it would look like on your chosen character in the preview window.

For this tutorial we will be using Aerobic Dance.

Actorcore motion presetsActorcore motion presetsActorcore motion presets

Step 4

Click on the Download (Motion) button

download the motiondownload the motiondownload the motion

Step 5

You can also preview how your character will look with the animation, using the actor button.

preview your character with the animationpreview your character with the animationpreview your character with the animation

Step 6

This will take you to the Download Settings window, where you can select the character to apply your animation. Choose your character from the selection and then click the Next button.

select your character in the download settingsselect your character in the download settingsselect your character in the download settings

Step 7

Make sure that the correct character is selected on the left and that the target application has been set to Blender. Then hit the Download button to download the animation.

download settings for animationsdownload settings for animationsdownload settings for animations

3. How to Import 3D Characters and Animations Into Blender

Auto Setup

Reallusion's Auto SetupTool for Blender (CC3 Blender Tool) provides a simple setup workflow for your downloaded file. Download from the link above. This tool makes changing details about your character, like fabrics, easier, which you will probably want to do. 

Manual Import

To manually import your assets as-is, unzip your AppCore downloaded files and then open up Blender. Navigate to File > Import > FBX (.fbx) to begin importing your downloaded files.

This will take you to the Blender File View where you can search for your downloaded files. Select the .fbx file for both the 3D character and the animation (you may have to import both separately). Once they have been selected, click on the Import FBX button.

select fbx fileselect fbx fileselect fbx file

Your files should now appear in the Layers Panel located in the top right of the screen. Here you can hide unnecessary objects from the scene, such as the cube, by clicking on the eye icon next to it.

click the eye iconclick the eye iconclick the eye icon

4. How to Apply Animations to Characters in Blender

Step 1

To apply the animations, first you must go into the Animation Workspace by clicking on the Animation button found at the top.

click on the animation buttonclick on the animation buttonclick on the animation button

Step 2

Make sure your 3D character is selected from the Layer Panel by clicking on it. Then select Action Editor from the dropdown menu found near the bottom left of the screen above the timeline.

choose action editorchoose action editorchoose action editor

Step 3

The Action Editor will allow you to apply the animation to your model. Simply click on the browse button and select the animation you wish to link (the default name for the animation is aerobic-dance_315220).

choose the animationchoose the animationchoose the animation

Step 4

Once linked, you will see that the animation has been applied to your 3D character. You can also click on the play preview button to see what the animation looks like.

preview the animationpreview the animationpreview the animation

Step 5

Also you will need to make sure that there are enough frames for your animation. To do this, select the End Frame button located near the bottom right of the timeline and select the correct number of frames for the animation. For this tutorial 900 frames is enough.

select end value select end value select end value

5. How to Set Up a Camera in Blender

Now we'll set a camera for the composition.

Step 1

Go back to the Layout Workspace by clicking on the Layout Button. Then select the Camera from the Layers Panel.

select the layout workspace and the cameraselect the layout workspace and the cameraselect the layout workspace and the camera

Step 2

In the Transform Window set the following values:

Location: 

  • X: 0m
  • Y: -6m
  • Z: 0.9m 

Rotation: 

  • X: 90°
  • Y: 0°
  • Z: 0°

Scale:

  • X: 1
  • Y: 1
  • Z: 1
transform windowtransform windowtransform window

Step 3

To preview the camera view select View > Camera > Active Camera or enter 0 on the numpad on your keyboard.

camera viewcamera viewcamera view

6. How to Create Lighting in Blender

Step 1

First let's add some lighting to the scene by selecting the Light object in the Layers Panel

If the Light object isn't there you can add one by pressing Shift + A on the keyboard and selecting Light > Area.

select area lightselect area lightselect area light

Step 2

Make sure that the light object is selected in the Layers Panel and the click on the Object Data Properties button.

click on the object propertiesclick on the object propertiesclick on the object properties

Step 3

Here you can set the following values:

  • Area Light
  • Color: F6FF96
  • Power: 2000 W

Also make sure to enable Shadow and Contact Shadows.

enable shadows enable shadows enable shadows

Step 4

To get a preview of how the lighting looks, select the Render Preview Mode and make sure Scene Lights and Scene World are selected.

enable render previewenable render previewenable render preview

7. How to Add a Background to the Scene

Step 1

To create a background first we need to enable Import Images as Planes. To do this go to Edit > Preferences.

select preferencesselect preferencesselect preferences

Step 2

Click the Add-ons button and then select Import-Export: Import Images as Planes.

import images as planesimport images as planesimport images as planes

Step 3

Now go to File > Import > Images as Planes and then open the background image you want to use. For this tutorial we will use the image Empty Blue Living Room.

import images as planesimport images as planesimport images as planes

Step 4

Once the background has been imported, simply select it from the Layers Panel and use the Move, Rotate and Scale buttons to make sure that it fits the scene within the view of your camera.

move and scale background planemove and scale background planemove and scale background plane

8. Render Your Video

Step 1

Once you are happy with the way your scene looks, go to the Rendering Workspace by clicking on the Workspace button at the top.

select render workspace select render workspace select render workspace

Step 2

Select Render Properties on the right side of the screen and make sure the render engine is set to Eevee. Then select any of the options below to enhance the look of your video. For this tutorial we have selected the following:

  • Ambient Occlusion
  • Bloom
  • Motion Blur
render propertiesrender propertiesrender properties

Step 3

Select Output Properties and here you can choose the resolution, selection of frames and the output of your video depending on your purposes.

For this tutorial we will choose a file format of AVI JPEG. 

output propertiesoutput propertiesoutput properties

Step 4

Once you are happy with your settings go to Render > Render Animation to create your video.

render animationrender animationrender animation

Awesome! You're Finished!

Congratulations! And that's how you can use 3D characters and animations from ActorCore to create your own dance videos using animated characters in Blender. Feel free to use other characters or motions available in ActorCore and also use your own background images to create your own videos.

create a 3D dance animation create a 3D dance animation create a 3D dance animation
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