Spore to iClone with 3D Studio Max 9

How to convert Spore models for iClone, with 3D Studio Max 9:

(I have no idea if this will work with Max 2010. See the comments on this post, for a suggestion on how to cure the texture problems caused when using 3DS Max 2010 with Spore creatures.)

1. Export your Spore creature from the Creature Creator module in the same manner as shown in my Maya 2010 tutorial.

2. Load up Max. Then File | Import, and navigate to My Documents / My Spore Creations / Creatures to find your Spore-exported .dae. Make sure you have Collada selected in the file-types box…

If you get errors in the mesh, you could try the alternative OpenCollada Max plugin as an import option.

3. After a while the Spore creature will appear in the Max viewport. If you know how to use 3DS Max to add useful animations to a model (i.e.: walk, turn head, etc), you can add them now — and the new 3DXchange should carry them over to the final iClone avatar. I’d welcome confirmation on this last point.

4. Edit | Select All. Then File | Export. Choose “Autodesk (.FBX)” and type in an .fbx extension after you type out the export filename. Save the .fbx into My Spore Creations/Creatures, so you know where to find it. Below are the FBX export settings I used. Note especially the need to scale up in size…

Along with the .fbx file, 3DS Max export will only give you the diffuse texture map. A Maya 2010 conversion will give you texture maps for diffuse, and specular and normal.

5. Now load up your creature in 3DXchange 4 Pro. It will probably appear at an odd angle, despite having set a Z-axis in the .fbx export (both Spore and iClone use Z). So you may have to rotate it until it stands normally. You may also need to “Align to Ground” and “Alight to Center”.

6. Now turn on the 3DXchange 4 Pro dummy. You’ll probably see that the model is still too small, even after the size boost you gave it when exporting from Max. Here the model is scaled up again (by 250) in 3DXchange, and is finally starting to look like the right size….

7. Turn off the 3DXchange dummy, and click “Convert to Character”. There may be some warnings about pivot points and an options box allowing you to adjust joint sizes. Just click past these, if you don’t know what they are. Then you can click on File | Export to send the creature to your iClone folders.

8. Load up iClone, and you should find the creature in Actor | Custom. Drag and drop the creature onto the stage, and then you can use Motion Edit to add / save some basic animations…

Don’t forget that you will need to include a standard legal disclaimer, as required by Spore’s publisher EA:—

This original Spore model, constructed by me, is being offered for use as part of a personal noncommercial free project, for the noncommercial benefit of the fan community for EA’s products. “This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Electronic Arts, or its licensors. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Game content and materials copyright Electronic Arts Inc. and its licensors. All Rights Reserved.”

It is possible that the free Blender will do all the above, but only once the new version 2.5 comes out in the summer. Blender 2.5 (possibly as early as the first beta?) will support OpenCollada import for .dae files, and will hopefully export 3DXchange-friendly .fbx files. Blender version 2.49 doesn’t work properly with Spore models.

4 thoughts on “Spore to iClone with 3D Studio Max 9

  1. Here’s a useful looking tip from one of the Spore message boards…

    “To animate in 3DS Max — if you do NOT use any 3D packages and have no experience in 3D — use the “autokey” function on the bottom right of the interface. Basically if you turn on “autokey” and move the slider 30 to 50 frames ahead, then move a creature joint in 3D space (then turn off autokey), 3DS Max will automatically create an animation.”

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