Animating 3D objects for Augmented Reality using Adobe Mixamo

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are some of my favorite technologies to explore. Being able to create new and interactive experiences with 3D models while utilizing current space is incredibly innovative. If you think about it, the possibilities of things that you can create with AR/VR is endless. Therefore, I wanted to start my journey of creating an interactive experience with AR/VR technologies.

The first thing that I wanted to accomplish was animating a 3D object.

The Animated 3D Model

Yes, I created a salsa dancing astronaut because… well, why not?

Finding a 3D Model

I like space things, so I wanted to animate a 3D model of an astronaut. Instead of making a model myself, I decided to utilize Google Poly to find my astronaut. Google Poly is an excellent resource for finding finished 3D models with textures and colors. These types of 3D models can easily be imported into games and other experiences for animation and coding. If you prefer to make your own models, there are tools online that you can utilize, such as Vectory.com or Google Blocks (If you have a VR headset).

I found this adorable low poly astronaut model made by Google, and I downloaded the object file.

Animating 3D Models

This part sounds like it’s hard work, but Adobe’s 3D animation tool, Mixamo, makes it incredibly easy. Mixamo is a free service of Adobe, so this makes the process even better.

I uploaded the zip file that was just downloaded from Google Poly on to Adobe Mixamo. It takes only a few seconds for the character to be processed.

From there, Mixamo will perform some automatic rigging of the 3D model character. Rigging is basically giving a bone structure to the 3D model. To perform automatic rigging, Mixamo needs the user to place the specified markers (chin, wrist, elbows, etc.) on the respective parts on the model. Mixamo prefers the model to be in a T-Pose, but our current model will do just fine for the purposes of this post.

Once the model has been rigged, it’s just a click of a button to select the various animations we would like to see our astronaut perform. I landed on salsa dancing because I’ve never seen a salsa dancing astronaut. And that’s pretty much it!

What about the Augmented Reality? 

Adobe has also made it pretty easy to import animated models for AR using their augmented reality creation app, Aero. 

I will talk more about Aero in the next post about AR, coming soon. For now, check out my dancing astronaut in the real world!