Mecanim Animation System

Unity has a rich and sophisticated animation system called Mecanim. Mecanim provides:

Typical setup in the Visual Programming Tool and the Animation Preview window

Mecanim workflow

Workflow in Mecanim can be split into three major stages.

  1. Asset preparation and import. This is done by artists or animators, with 3rd party tools, such as Max or Maya. This step is independent of Mecanim features.
  2. Character setup for Mecanim, which can be done in 2 ways:
    • Humanoid character setup. Mecanim has a special workflow for humanoid models, with extended GUI support and retargeting. The setup involves creating and setting up an Avatar and tweaking Muscle definitions.
    • Generic character setup. This is for anything like creatures, animated props, four-legged animals, etc. Retargeting is not possible here, but you can still take advantage of the rich feature set of Mecanim, including everything described below.
  3. Bringing characters to life. This involves setting up animation clips, as well as interactions between them, and involves setup of State Machines and Blend Trees, exposing Animation Parameters, and controlling animations from code.

Mecanim comes with a lot of new concepts and terminology. If at any point, you need to find out what something means, go to our Animation Glossary.

Legacy animation system

While Mecanim is recommended for use in most situations, especially for working humanoid animations, the Legacy animation system is still used in a variety of contexts. One of them is working legacy animations and code (content created before Unity 4.0). Another is controlling animation clips with parameters other than time (for example for controlling the aiming angle). For information on the Legacy animation system, see this section

Unity intends to phase out the Legacy animation system over time for all cases by merging the workflows into Mecanim.

Page last updated: 2013-02-14