Customize Avatar Animations

Avatars in High Fidelity use the built in standard set of animations by default. These animations are generic and do not change based on your avatar. You can have your avatar express customized animations by replacing the existing ones.


The methods detailed below are being updated and changed frequently to create a better process to import custom animations for avatars. Keep this in mind before customizing your avatar’s animations.

Prepare Your Custom Animation

Before you replace the existing standard animations, you need to prepare your custom animation file. Some guidelines to keep in mind, according to our Avatar Standards Guide.

  • Animations must have standard joint names for High Fidelity.
  • Animations must have standard joint orientations (y down the bone).
  • Key frames must have key frames for every joint at the uniform interval of 30 frames per second.
  • Locomotion animation phase has the left ankle in passing position on the frame. Try to match this phase if you want your locomotion animation to blend with the default set.

Once you create your animation:

  1. Export your animation from the external tool of your choice as an FBX file.
  2. Upload your animation to a cloud server and copy the URL.

Replace Standard Animations

You can enrich your High Fidelity experience by making your avatar express customized animations. Do this by replacing the standard animations for your avatar.

We’ve listed the different ways you can do this:


If you create a custom JSON file for your avatar’s animations, you will not inherit any updates made to the standard animations’ JSON file. You can perform a text merge to the latest version at any time.

Override an Existing Animation

This method uses scripting and the MyAvatar namespace to override an existing animation. We’ve listed the methods you can use to replace the standard animations on your avatar.

Method Description
MyAvatar.overrideAnimation This method can be used to play any animation on the current avatar. It will move smoothly from the current pose to the starting frame of the custom animation. For example, if your avatar is waving, this script will stop your avatar waving and play the custom animation provided.
AnimationCache.prefetch This method fetches a resource. You can use this to fetch a custom animation you’ve hosted on a cloud server. If you do not prefetch your animations before playing them, you might see a t-pose appear briefly as the animation is downloaded.
MyAvatar.restoreAnimation This method stops the override function from playing any custom animation. Your avatar will go back to playing the standard animations.


This process to replace an existing animation will take complete control of all avatar joints. Inverse Kinematics of the hands and head of HMD users will be disabled.

Override a Role Animation

All existing animations are defined by a set of animation roles. An animation role is like a trigger based on the type of input device you are using. Each animation role maps to an action the avatar can perform. This exists by default in the avatar animations JSON file. For example, if you are using hand controllers and you fully squeeze your right hand over it, your avatar will perform a gesture where its right hand is grasped close.

  1. Use MyAvatar.getAnimationRoles to view the list of roles for the current avatar.
  2. You can replace the animation for each role with a custom animation (FBX file) using MyAvatar.overrideRoleAnimation.

We’ve listed the animation roles and their description. Animation roles are frequently updated. We recommend using MyAvatar.getAnimationRoles to get the latest animation roles being used. The standard animation FBX files for these roles can be found in the High Fidelity source code repository on GitHub.

Animation Roles Description
rightHandGraspOpen When hand controller trigger is not squeezed.
rightHandGraspClosed When hand controller trigger is fully squeezed.
rightIndexPointOpen Point gesture.
rightIndexPointClosed Point gesture with trigger squeezed.
rightThumbRaiseOpen Thumbs up gesture.
rightThumbRaiseClosed Thumbs up gesture with trigger squeezed.
rightIndexPointAndThumbRaiseOpen Simultaneous thumbs up and point gesture.
rightIndexPointAndThumbRaiseClosed Simultaneous thumbs up and point gesture, with trigger squeezed.
leftHandGraspOpen When hand controller trigger is not squeezed.
leftHandGraspClosed When hand controller trigger is fully squeezed.
leftIndexPointOpen Point gesture.
leftIndexPointClosed Point gesture with trigger squeezed.
leftThumbRaiseOpen Thumbs up gesture.
leftThumbRaiseClosed Thumbs up gesture with trigger squeezed.
leftIndexPointAndThumbRaiseOpen Simultaneous thumbs up and point gesture.
leftIndexPointAndThumbRaiseClosed Simultaneous thumbs up and point gesture, with trigger squeezed.
idleStand Standing still, not talking.
idleTalk Standing still, but avatar is talking.
walkFwdShort_c Walking forward at 0.5 m/s.
walkFwdNormal_c, walkFwdFast_c Walking forward at 1.8 m/s. Walking forward at 2.3 m/s.
walkFwdJog_c, walkFwdRun_c Walking forward at 3.2 m/s. Walking forward at 4.5 m/s.
idleToWalkFwd, idleSettle Short transition from standing idle to walking forward. Transition from walk to idle.
walkBwdShort_c Walking backward at 0.6 m/s.
walkBwdFast_c, jogBwd_c, runBwd_c Walking backward at 1.6 m/s. Jog backward at 2.3 m/s. Jog backward at 3.1 m/s.
turnLeft Standing turning in place animation.
turnRight Standing turning in place animation.
strafeLeftShortStep_c Sidestep at 0.1 m/s.
strafeLeftStep_c, strafeLeftWalk_c, strafeLeftWalkFast_c, strafeLeftJog_c Sidestep at 0.5 m/s. Side walk at 1.0 m/s. Side walk at 2.6 m/s. Side jog at 3.0 m/s.
strafeRightShortStep_c, strafeRightStep_c Sidestep at 0.1 m/s. Sidestep at 0.5 m/s.
strafeRightWalk_c, strafeRightFast_c, strafeRightJog_c, stepLeftShort_c, stepLeft_c, strafeLeftAnim_c, stepRightShort_c, stepRight_c, strafeRightAnim_c Side walk at 1 m/s. Sidewalk at 2.6 m/s Side jog at 3 m/s. HMD step left at 0 m/s. HMD step left at 0.5 m/s. HMD strafe left at 2.5 m/s. HMD step right at 0 m/s. HMD step right at 0.5 m/s. HMD strafe right at 2.5 m/s.
fly Flying idle.
takeoffStand Standing jump takeoff.
TAKEOFFRUN Running jump takeoff.
inAirStandPreApex Standing jump in air on the way upward towards the jump apex.
inAirStandApex Standing jump in air at apex of the jump.
inAirStandPostApex Standing jump in air on the downward arc of the jump.
inAirRunPreApex Running jump in air on the way upward towards the jump apex.
inAirRunApex Running jump in air at apex of the jump.
inAirRunPostApex Running jump in air on the downward arc of the jump.
landStandImpact Standing land.
landStand Standing land.
LANDRUN Running land.

Use the Animation Graph File

When you wear an avatar in High Fidelity, the animation system must blend and layer a series of animations from FBX files as well as perform Inverse Kinematics on the joints to best match the head and hand sensors.

These animations are blended using a JSON data file. The data file is called the Animation Graph file, and it specifies exactly which animations to play and how they are blended. It also determines the order of operations, so that operations like Inverse Kinematics occur after the rest of the body has been animated by traditional means. This JSON file contains a hierarchical tree of nodes called the AnimNode System.

By default, every avatar uses the same Animation Graph file. However, advanced users and content creators can specify their own Animation Graph file.

To replace the standard animations:

  • Substitute the existing animations’ FBX URLs with their custom animations’ URL in the Animation Graph file.


  1. Create your own Animation Graph file and host it remotely.
  2. In Interface, pull up your HUD or Tablet and go to Avatar.
  3. Click on the Settings icon on the top-right corner.
  4. Under ‘Avatar animation JSON’, add the URL for your Animation Graph file. ![](avatar-settings.png)


  1. Open your avatar’s FST file in a text editor.
  2. Add your Animation Graph file’s URL.
animGraphUrl = "URL"


  • Here is the current default avatar-animation.json file.
  • This scoot-animation.json file replaces the idle and walk animations with a sitting pose. It is intended to show an example of replacing some but not all of an avatar’s default animations.

AnimNode System

The AnimNode system defines how an avatar moves and is described in the Animation Graph JSON file.

The movement of an avatar is determined by a complex blend of procedural animation, pre-recorded animation clips, and inverse kinematics. This blend is calculated at every frame to ensure that the avatar body follows physics and controller input as rapidly as possible. It must handle animation for desktop users, HMD users, and users wearing a full set of HTC Vive trackers. It must be configured on the fly as sensors are added and removed from the system. It should also be open to extensions so unique animations and avatar configurations are possible. These functionalities are handled by the AnimNode system.

We’ve listed some features of the system:

  • The AnimNode system is a graph of nodes.
  • Some nodes are output only, such as pre-recorded animation clips.
  • Other nodes produce output by processing nodes below it in the graph and blending the results together.
  • By manipulating the node hierarchy, certain animation actions will occur before or after other animation actions.
  • The node parameters can be dynamically changed at runtime. This flexibility is necessary to achieve good visual results.
  • The system is in the default Animation Graph JSON file and is loaded during avatar initialization.

Key Concepts

The AnimNode system operates like an expression parse tree. For example the following expression: 4 + 3 * 7 - (5 / (3 + 4)) + 6, can be represented by the following parse tree.

This parse tree can then be evaluated at runtime to compute the actual value. In this tree, the leaf nodes are values and interior nodes are operations that combine two or more sub-trees and produce a new value. The tree is evaluated until there is a single value remaining, which should be the result of the entire expression: 30.2957142.

In the expression case, the output value of each node is a floating point number, and operations can be implemented simply by evaluating each sub-tree, and then combining them with an arithmetic operation, such as addition or multiplication.

The AnimNode system works on a similar concept. Except the value of each node contains all of the avatar’s joint translations and rotations. Leaf nodes can be static avatar poses, such as the T-pose or can be a single frame of an animation clip. Interior nodes can perform operations such as blending between two or more sub-trees, or combining the upper body of one animation with the lower body of another.

See Also