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What Is 3ds Max CAT And Why You Should Use It For Animation

What Is 3ds Max CAT And Why You Should Use It For Animation

Hey, fellow animators, I’m Milos Cerny and
today I would like to talk to you about, why you should use CAT when animating in 3ds Max. CAT or Character Animation Toolkit is a former
plugin for 3ds Max which was integrated and built-into 3ds Max since version 2010. So it’s quite old, i know, but bear with
me. I have been using CAT for over 5 years now
and we used it in two different companies I worked for in full production for video
games. It has most, if not all, of the features other
softwares bring and some features that even other software like Maya or Motionbuilder
don’t have, like procedural animation, for example. Unfortunately CAT is not beeing updated very
often and is more or less the same as it was 5-6 years ago. You should keep this in mind as this is likely
to continue because it seems like even Autodesk doesn’t realize how powerful animation tool
they have. General consensus is that Maya is used more
for animation because of it’s superior rigging and skinning tools, which is mostly true I
would say. So if you want to do very complex custom rig
with a lot of scripting involved, Maya would probably be the better option most of the
time. However I would say that Maya lacks in an
animation department compared to 3ds Max especially because of CAT. But these software
questions are quite polarizing and everybody likes something else, so by no means Im saying
that Maya is better or worse than 3ds Max or anything like that, I just decided to talk
about CAT because in my opinion it’s heavily underated and underused system, and not being
talked about very often. Let’s mention MotionBuilder as well real
quick because it belongs here. But it’s kind of a specific software, because
it focuses mainly on motion capture and therefore humaniods. So if you have anything to do with motion
capture, use MotionBuilder by all means, But if you want to do a quadruped animal or something
different then humanoid you shouldn’t do it in MotionBuilder as you basically lose
all the advantages it brings. But let’s get back to CAT. So, what makes it so powerful? Well, first thing. You can do rigs in a matter of minutes. You can do basic rig for, for example this
wolf, in a matter of few minutes and you have everything you need for an in-game character. But let’s not just stop there, you can do
birds, elephant, dragon, octopus. You can do weapons, facial rigs. You can basically really do almost anything. And if you get to some limitations of CAT
and for some reason need to use regular bones, you can still create a hybrid rig with regular
bones linked to the CAT bones add them as rigging component and keep all the advantages
of CAT. Second thing. Saving and Loading clips. So let’s say, you have done your animation
for this deer, but now you have a model of a goat and it needs similar animation as you
have done before but you don’t want to start from scratch. So what do you do? Well, you go and save your clip, open up your goat model and load it on. And as you can see the animation will plays
just fine. Of course you will have to do some adjustments
and fixing, but you have a base to start from. It works, even when deer rig didn’t have
all the bones the goat has, like udder or beard. But let’s try even more extreme example,
let’s load the same clip on a pigeon. And you will get this. Which looks completely broken, I know, but
let’s have a closer look. You see, pigeon has only two legs and front
legs of a deer are now his wings. Let’s just disable wings for a while to
show you what we got. And you see, we have the same animation
working just fine. Animation of a deer, on a two legged pigeon,
a bird. I can’t even tell you how powerful this
is. Third. Procedural animation. And this is a big one. You won’t find anything like this in Maya
or Motionbuilder or even most of other softwares. Let’s open up our goat again and let’s
create a motion layer, which is CAT’s layer for procedural animation. You will get some kind of walk-cycle right
of the bat, however it looks terrible of course. But let’s open up an edit panel. Don’t be fooled by this window. I know it looks awful, can not be scaled,
isn’t user friendly at all but it gets the work done. So procedural animation means that you animate
by changing parameters not by keyframing. As you can see you have a lot of parameters
for each bone or hub in the rig and by changing these values animation changes. After a while you might end up with something
like this. And it’s all done just by changing values,
not a single keyframe was set. But it’s not just walks, you can do trot,
or run, or basically any cycled movement. And let’s get to forth and final thing for
this video which would be, that by using CAT You dont actually lose anything. Which is arguably the best thing. You still animate just as you would with regular
bones or biped or any other system, but you get a lot of new functionality that you wouldn’t
have other way. Just a little advice. If you are interested in CAT and never done
rigging with regular bones or biped you shouldn’t worry. You can jump straight into CAT and skip the
others. Even the absolute beginners. Because well, most of the stuff can be done
by CAT alone and you don’t need to know how exactly those other systems work. You can learn everything with CAT system. I’m Milos Cerny, and thank your for watching. Just one more thing. This is my first commentary video ever and
as I don’t even know if there is any audience for this kind of stuff focused on CAT, any
comment, like or subscription is highly appreciated as for me it is the only indicator that there
is interest in videos like these and a motivation to do more of them. Anything helps really, thank you.

85 thoughts on “What Is 3ds Max CAT And Why You Should Use It For Animation

  • thanks for a revealing and informative video. Have used CAT for years now and didn't know all the things that you showed.

  • Thank you im been using 3dsmax for 5 year for architectural design only but i want learn about animation thank you for your video because i read always the downside of 3ds max when it comes to animation they always talk cinema 4d for animation and graphics you know i can make graphics in 3ds max but i try cinema 4d its hard to me to use thank you for your informative tutorial video

  • Hey! Awesome video and channel. Keep it up. I have been using CAT for years, and its sad Autodesk doesn't support it. I'm mostly interested in tips and tricks of CAT and things you can not do in CAT.

  • What I've been trying to do is create realistic animations for 18th century soldiers. Problem is, it's for a game that already uses models with skeletons rigged up.

    My question is: does CAT allow me to do all you describe, but for that skeleton?

  • Loved the video… I am not familiar with cat but now i will try to learn it… Please make some tutorials how to rig and animate with cat! I already subscribed!

  • I tried CAT yeeeeeeeeeeears ago but when I got back in animation I dismissed it because of the versatility in custom rigging. However, I think you may have given me a reason to try it out again, at least on small projects. Maybe I can build some love for it.

  • I've seen tutorials for adding bones to 3ds max models but where is there a tutorial to add bones to CAT Rigs ?

  • Beautifully presented, styled and put together video. May I ask what software you used to put it together? I have used Vegas for video editing in the past but I could imagine putting this together in Vegas would take hours, with all the text keyframing and little touches. I have to put together some promo videos soon using clips with animated text, and trying to decide which is best/faster software combination to do this with.

  • Thanks so much! Awesome tutorials. You're seriously cool mate.CAT is so powerful and not many are talking about it.

  • Thank you for making and sharing such thoroughly-explained video! Absolutely love the quality and the flow! I've become a big fan of CAT precisely for the reason you introduce in the video! Also love your website! Please keep doing more tutorials! (I've subscribed to your channel woohoo!)
    I'm very curious – Can CAT animated models be imported into Maya without losing the procedural quality in the animation? When I tried import a CATrig horse with walk cycle as FBX into Maya, the horse didn't walk as smoothly as it did in Max. I'd really appreciate your feedback! Thank you~!

  • Good vid, but I still prefer to build all my own rigs as I can build in the level of control I need or add to it. Not saying CAT cannot do that, just a preference.

  • Please create more tutorials for different kinds of characters or creatures. Thanks for the vid, love those motion graphics as well nice job!

  • WOW! This is genius. I've been a developer for almost 10 years and had no idea the power of CAT rigs in 3ds Max. I've always used the standard biped rig. This information should be spread out far and wide.

  • Great video, and there's definitely interest in this, so please do more commentary videos! I love the way you explain things!

  • Oh Brother! It's so cool! I subscribed to your channel! It is amazing ! What about facial rig in CAT? Is it powerful too?

  • Hi Milos, I loved your videos. I used CAT for my creature rig. I animated. Unfortunately CAT is poorly supported when you want to export as FBX to be used for game engines. Bones scaling issues with "non orthogonal matrix" error. Sad face. I really like animating in CAT but very problematic to use those animation and rigs with exporting for games engine.

  • sir, you just my day. Your video was most inspiring. i now believe i am ready to launch into the world of animation. Thanks alot. pls be encourage to make more helpful videos.

  • Remember buying CAT back when it was a plugin(from New Zealand company I think). Such an amazing ugrade from biped. What a shame Autodesk basically haven't touched it since then. Still very powerfull though

  • please do a comprehensive tutorial on facial rig using catrig . looking forward to it. thanks

  • Very happy to see your CAT videos. Great job! This is becoming a great resource. Can you also do a face rigging video, similar to what you spotlight in this video? Thank you for your contribution 🙂

  • Can Cat muscle animation be baked into cat bones and exported to Ue4?Can you do a tutorial on that as well, I can't find any good tutorials for setting up CAT muscles.

  • keep going man) u doing great job there)
    also for all viewers – lets support this man – click subscribe let audience grow)
    (CAT user since release)

  • I don't remember if I've expressed how much I like your channel. Clear explanations, smooth presentation, professional work… I had to become a Patron, even though I'm basically broke right now! But you're helping me too much for me not to be a little generous back! Please keep up the good work and find a way to love making these videos, because we want you to stick around for long! 🙂

  • Long forgotten tools like this are the reasons why I still haven't switched to cinema4d, Houdini or Maya. Because I can do everything in max, much easier, much faster. Autodesk sucks for having no ideas about software development!

  • Thanks for such great tutorial. After effect motion graphic is awesome in this presentation.
    Did you done all AE presentation by yourself? Subscribed.

  • Hey man, sorry for posting it here.. but can you possibly give some advice on this? Or anyone for that matter..

  • Hey I know i'm late to the party, but i just want to say thank you for this video. i'm actually looking around to see which is better out of cat or biped. Keep up the good work.

  • Awesome videos! I just came across your channel today, and I can't believe that such a useful tool has been sitting in Max this entire time (I usually just use standard bones, but will use CAT from now on). A few questions from your videos / and blog:
    1) could you do a short video covering how you would use CAT for a weapon animation (since you mentioned it as an example)? I never really understood how to rig them with bones for game characters, and the idea of using CAT is even more confusing since it looks like one of the bones was detachable?
    2) You mentioned in your blog post that CAT doesn't have squash and stretch functionality. Would that make building more complex / realistic rigs easier? I am thinking of the case where you model the skeletal structure of a character, then build muscles on top of that, and finally use the muscles to control the skin (all of the examples that I have seen used Maya though). Is that something that is feasible to do using CAT as the control rig? If so, could you do a video attaching a squash and stretch bone to a CAT rig (perhaps a bicep or something)?
    Anyway, I look forward to seeing more videos!

  • Hi, i have a question.
    If i have rigged the model using cat bones on 3ds max and then export the model. Can the bone be used on other programs like maya or daz3d?

  • Hi Milos! Is it possible to use Cat with "cloth" modifier? I know it's usable and powerful with "morpher" for example, but I don't know if is it posible with cloth.

  • I was waiting for some one like you on youtube. Yes i also belive CAT its a powerfull tool i look forward for more tutorials on it from you. Thank you for your hard work on this videos!

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