Quick tip : Import Mass Effect animation into Blender

[Update 25/02/2021] I leave this very old post around as archive but fortunately it is not relevant anymore with Blender 2.8x and Befzz psk/psa import addon (that you can find here). Please also note that urls for the software mentionned below may not work anymore so if for some reason, you still want to give this a try, you would have to do some research to find older versions of milkshape3D and UDK.

After importing my Shepard (like explained in this post) and other characters extracted from the Mass Effect games into Blender, the next step is trying to import animations and poses. These are psa files and there is a psa import addon included with blender 2.6. Great, isn’t it? Except it does not work with psa files from Mass Effect. I don’t know if it works with other psa files, but the combo psk importer/psa importer produces very weird results with Mass Effect files. I guess there is a problem with the skeleton bones orientation, so I’ve looked for alternative solutions to get psa files into blender.

I’ve experienced two workflows described quickly hereafter :

– First one requires Milkshape 3D (http://chumbalum.swissquake.ch/) which is not free but cheap (35 USD or 25 EUR). The process is quite simple :

  • Import the psk file of your character into Milkshape 3D, then the psa file.
  • Save the scene
  • In Blender, activate the milkshape 3D importer
  • And here you are, just import the scene into blender.
  • If you already have another character loaded into Blender, you can just switch the armature used in the armature modifier of your character with the one imported with the milkshape scene.
  • Alternately, you can export the character from milkshape as smd and use the SMD Blender Tools (https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Blender_Source_Tools)┬áto import it to blender.
  • Note that with this solution, all animations in the psa file will be imported one after the other in one action only.

– Second one is a little more tedious since it requires UDK (http://www.unrealengine.com/en/udk/) and Audodesk FBX converter (http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/item?siteID=123112&id=10775920) but both programs are free.

  • Start by importing the psk file of your character into the Content Manager of UDK, then the psa file.
  • In the Anim Set editor, select the character and the animation you wish to export. In the file menu, save the animation as fbx. When prompted, click OK when UDK asks if you wish to export the mesh along with the skeleton. The process does not work if the skeleton is exported without the mesh.
  • Then use the FBX converter to convert your fbx file to Collada.
  • In Blender, import the collada file (check the option import units) and there you are!
  • Unlike with the use of milkshape3D, you can export/import all animations of one psa file separately.