Unreal Engine: OptiTrack Live Link Plugin
This page provides instructions on how to use the OptiTrack Unreal Engine Live Link plugin. The plugin communicates with Unreal's built-in Live Link system by providing a Live Link source for receiving tracking data streamed from Motive. This plugin can be used for controlling cameras and objects in virtual production applications. When needed, the OptiTrack Unreal Engine Plugin can also be alongside this plugin. For a specific guide to InCamera VFX (i.e. LED Wall Virtual Production) please see this wiki page Unreal Engine: OptiTrack InCamera VFX.
1. [Motive] Setup Rigid Body streaming in Motive.
2. [UE] Install the OptiTrack plugins in Unreal Engine (UE).
You can install the OptiTrack Unreal Engine plugin by putting the plugin files into one of the following directories:
- A global engine plugin can be placed in
C:\Program Files\Epic Games\ [Engine Version]\ Engine\ Plugins\ Marketplace
- A project-specific plugin can be placed in
3. [UE] Enable the plugins in UE project.
Go to Edit → Plugins and enable two of the required plugins. First one is the OptiTrack - Live Link plugin under Installed group, and the second one is the built-in Live Link plugin under Built-In group.
OptiTrack - Live Link plugin. Make sure the plugins are placed in the plugins folder either in the project or engine directory.
Built-In Live Link plugin.
4. [UE] Open the LiveLink pane
Open the LiveLink pane from Window → Virtual Production → Live Link in the toolbar.
Live Link pane in UE5.
Live Link pane in UE5.
5. [UE] Configure and create a new OptiTrack source
In the LiveLink pane under Source options, go to the OptiTrack Source menu and configure the proper connection settings and click Create. Please make sure to use matching network settings configured from the Streaming pane in Motive.
Creating OptiTrack source with client streaming settings.
6. [UE] Check the Connection.
If the streaming settings are correct and the connection to Motive server is successful, then the plugin will list out all of the detected assets. They should have green dots next to them indicating that the corresponding asset has been created and is receiving data. If the dots are yellow, then it means that the client has stopped receiving data. In this case, check if Motive is still tracking or if there is a connection error.
Connected to the Rigid Body data stream.
1. Add the camera object or static mesh object that you wish to move
Add a camera actor from the Place Actors pane or a static mesh from the project into your scene. For the static meshes, make sure their Mobility setting is set to Movable under the Transform properties.
Camera actor listed under the Place Actors pane.
Actor mobility set to movable.
2. Add a LiveLinkController Component
Select an actor you want to animate. In the Details tab select your "actor" (Instance). In the search bar, type in Live Link. Then click on the Live Link Controller from the populated list.
Live Link Controller component needs be added.
3. Select the target Rigid Body
Under the Live Link properties in the Details tab click in the Subject Representation box and select the target Rigid Body.
The target Rigid Body selected under Live Link Controller component properties.
Once the target Rigid Body is selected, each object with the Live Link Controller component attached and configured will be animated in the scene.
1. Set Timecode Provider under project settings
From Edit → Project Settings, search timecode and under Engine - General settings, you should find settings for the timecode. Here, set the the Timecode Provider to LiveLinkTimeCodeProvider.
Select the timecode provider under project settings.
2. Set OptiTrack source in the Live Link pane as the Timecode Provider
Open the Live Link pane, and select the OptiTrack subject that we created when first setting up the plugin connection. Then, under its properties, check the Timecode Provider box.
Enable timecode provider setting in the plugin.
The timecode from Motive should now be seen in the Take Recorder pane. Take Recorder pane can be found under Window → Cinematics → Take Recorder in the toolbar.
Timecode shown in the Take Recorder pane.
1. Create a new Animation Blueprint
Right click the mesh you would like to use and select "Create > Anim Blueprint"
New animation blueprint.
2. Name and Open the Animation Blueprint
Name the animation blueprint something appropriate, then double click it to open the blueprint.
3. Hook up your Blueprint
Create a "Live Link Pose" component and connect it to the "Output Pose". Assign the "Live Link Subject Name" to the Skeleton that you would like to use.
Connect to pose, then choose name.
Change the "Retarget Asset" property in the Details pane of the blueprint editor to "OptiTrackLiveLinkRetarget"
4. Getting the Skeleton to Animate
To animate the Skeleton in real time click the Animation Blueprint from earlier. In the Details pane under the skelteonLive Link Skeleton Animation". After you add that component the mesh should start animating.
To animate the Skeleton in a game, just press the play button. Adding the "Live Link Skeleton Animation" object is not necessary to animate in play mode.
Component to animate Skeleton.
5. OptiTrack Live Link Display
In order to see the debug skeleton overlay from Motive, you can enable the OptiTrack Live Link Display. From the Quick Add dropdown from the toolbar, you can select OptiTrack Live Link Display. This will appear in the Outliner tab and you can change any settings in its Details tab as needed.
Select OptiTrack Live Link Display from Quick Add
Default green debug skeleton from OptiTrack Live Link Display
If the retargeting doesn't match the mesh correctly, then you can create a new OptiTrackLiveLinkRetarget blueprint from scratch and modify the bone mapping names.
Options for retargeting to different names. Click image to enlarge.
Animating a MetaHuman follows basically the same steps as another Skeleton, but requires hooking into the Skeleton at a very specific location. For more information about MetaHuman setup outside of our scope, please visit Epic Games's website.
First, you'll want to verify that the Quixel Bridge plugin is installed with Unreal Engine 5. You can install the Quixel Bridge plugin from the Epic Games Launcher by clicking Unreal Engine then the Library Tab.
You'll also wan to make sure that the Quixel Bridge plugin is enabled. To do this go to Edit > Plugins > Editor and click the check box. You may have to restart Unreal after enabling this plugin.
Navigate to the Cube + icon in the top toolbar, select the dropdown and choose Quixel Bridge.
From here, log into your account and select the MetaHuman you want to download/ add to your project.
In your newly created MetaHuman folder (Note: The folder will be labeled whatever your MetaHuman name is), in the Content Browser, create an animation blueprint by right clicking and navigating to Animation> Animation Blueprint.
For the skeleton asset, simply choose the metahuman_base_skel. There is no need to choose anything different for the parent class, keep it as AnimInstance.
Click Create and name it, “ABP_ Metahuman Name”
Each MetaHuman will have a “Body” mesh attached to the MetaHuman blueprint. This mesh will have a post-processing animation blueprint automatically attached to it when you import it into your project. We want to remove this from the mesh because it can cause crashing errors if they are used improperly.
Open your MetaHuman blueprint by double-clicking it. In here, click the Body in the components section, and in the details, panel go to Mesh> Skeletal Mesh, then click
to navigate to the mesh in the content browser. Open the mesh by double clicking on it.
Now in the mesh, scroll down to the Skeletal Mesh section and clear the “Post Process Anim Blueprint”.
With this done, you can now use multiple MetaHumans in your project while all of them are using the same skeleton.
Removing this Post Process Anim Blueprint disabled any way of the mesh itself receiving animations.
Now we will drive all the animation in the animation blueprint we made earlier.
You can also simply choose the animation blueprint that you made as well. It may cause multiple calls to the blueprint and in multiple areas, so be cautious.
Open the animation blueprint that we made in step 2.
You should now see the Animation Graph, if you don’t, navigate to the left in the Animation Graphs and click on “AnimGraph”. In the AnimGraph, right click and type “Live Link Pose”.
Now attach it to the OutPut Pose node.
You can add an input pose if you’d like to keep your blueprint free of any compile notes or errors.
While you have the “Live Link Pose” node selected, navigate to the Details panel and under retarget, select Retarget Asset > OptiTrackLiveLink.
Now to choose an actor.
Make sure you have added a live link source streaming over from Motive.
Choose an actor for the selected dropdown.
You can select a different actor per AnimBlueprint, as long as you have the proper Post Process Blueprint Animation settings. Referenced in step 3.
Click Compile and Save.
Next, navigate to your MetaHuman blueprint and open it.
In the “Components” section on the left, scroll down and select LODSync.
Now on the right go to LOD > Forced LOD and choose any LOD that works for your use-case.
Do not use –1 as the Forced LOD as this will crash Unreal.
Click image to enlarge.
Go back to the Components panel and click on Body.
On the right in the Details panel, go to Animation> Animation Mode> Use Animation Blueprint.
In the Anim Class choose the MetaHuman AnimBP that you created earlier.
Click image to enlarge.
Lastly in the Components panel, click the '+ Add' button and type in ”Live Link Skeletal Animation” and then click Compile.
If you go to your main Map, you can click and drag your MetaHuman in the scene to watch them animate in Realtime.
For testing the project in standalone game mode, or when developing an nDislay application, the Live Link plugin settings must be saved out and selected as the default preset to be loaded onto the project. If this is not done, the configured settings may not get applied. After configuring the LiveLink plugin settings, save out the preset from the Live Link pane first. Then, open the Project Settings and find Live Link section in the sidebar. Here, you can select the default Live Link preset to load onto the project, as shown in the screenshot below. Once the preset is properly saved and loaded, the corresponding plugin settings will be applied to the standalone game mode.
If all the configuration is correct, the actors will get animated in the newly opened game window when playing the project in the standalone game mode.
Creating a preset from Live Link panel. Select Save As Preset.
Assigning the preset in the Project Settings.
Playing a scene in standalone game mode.
Another path to get data into Unreal Engine is to stream data from Motive -> MotionBuilder (using the OptiTrack MotionBuilder Plugin) -> Unreal Engine (using the Live Link plugin for MotionBuilder). This has the benefit of using the Human IK (HIK) retargeting system in MotionBuilder, which will scale characters of very different sizes/dimensions better than the base Live Link plugin. More information can be found by consulting Unreal Engine's Live Link to MotionBuilder documentation.
A - This notification message may appear at the bottom of the Live Link pane if the frame rate in the data stream doesn't match the rendering frame rate inside UE. This is within notification within the Engine only, so it should not interfere with the project. If this notification must be removed, you can go to the Project Settings → Engine → General Settings → Framerate section, check Use Fixed Frame Rate option, and set the Fixed Frame Rate to be the same rate as the Motive frame rate.