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First step when working with rigify is to create a meta rig, a minimal rig with propor hierarchy.

Once you have the meta rig aligned, you generate a rig, which very different hierarchy and much more control bones.

The animation is done on the rig, so the bones that are key framed belong to the rig and not the clean meta rig.

When exporting the animation to UE (only deform bones) the bone hierarchy looks like this:

enter image description here

Instead of:

enter image description here

Which creates issues in UE.

I need the animation that was created with the rigify rig, to be exported with clean skeleton of the meta rig.

Trying to load an action that was created with rig to the meta rig is loosing some of the movement for reasons that are not clear.

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    $\begingroup$ The first picture shows way more bones than the deform bones, I suggest you to check your export process, that clearly is not a correct export. Besides, the metarig is only a tool to generate your rig. NOTHING ELSE. Don't use it as a reference for your deformation rig hierarchy. You could literally delete it as soon as your rig is done and pretend it never existed. $\endgroup$
    – L0Lock
    Jan 7 at 4:48

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There are different solutions for this. People may tell you to just use the "Deform bones only" option in the FBX export settings. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Non-deform bones that are in a parent-child relationship with the actual deform bones will be exported (because, reasons).

One of the simplest solutions is this addon. https://github.com/AlexLemminG/Rigify-To-Unity I don't like it much because it does a bunch of heavy-handed edits in the background. For example, I think it removes any face bones if you have them. Also any custom bones etc. But if you have a simple Rigify human rig and you want to make it compatible with the mannequin as simply as possible, it may be just what you need. It's called Rigify to Unity but that doesn't matter. The hierarchy is the same in UE.

I made my own exploration on the topic and we created our own addon to solve the problems with exporting to game engines. Here is the full playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdcL5aF8ZcJvCyqWeCBYVGKbQgrQngen3 I recommend watching the first couple of videos to familiarize yourself with the common problems.

Here is info about our addon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZBx1I7vmQ0&list=PLdcL5aF8ZcJvCyqWeCBYVGKbQgrQngen3&index=12 It's a bit more complex but it allows a lot of flexibility.

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    $\begingroup$ Also good to know that, some rigs migh have some bones needed for export yet are not set as deform bones. I don't remember for rigify precisely, but I.E. some rigs will contain extra bones that are useless to animation but necessary for the game engine, like a bone that will be used as groundzero origin to a character or a specific hitbox, COGs, so on... Ideally, rigs have some form of selection set / collection for export, when it isn't managed by the pipeline's tools itself. And if not, it's up to each artist to make it happen. $\endgroup$
    – L0Lock
    Jan 8 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ yeah, root bones, bones for attachments etc. It pays to know how to export a clean rig :) $\endgroup$
    – CGDive
    Jan 9 at 10:24
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The generate rig presents you with a set of bones that are not present in the meta rig. Meanwhile, the set of bones that are present in the meta rig are renamed and hidden in the generated rig.

So your animation keyframes are set on bones that don't exist in the meta rig.

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