Been struggling with this, finally figured it out. Thought I would post the steps in case someone else is having the same issue. Many of the posts on this topic speak to doing this within the same Blend file. Object to object or rig to rig. My issue has been when I introduce a new character in another file and need to reference the animations from an older file and copy them to my new character.
Note: This will only work if the rigs are exactly the same. Bone names etc all have to be exactly the same. Here are the steps (Blender 2.8 and 2.9):
- Open Blend file you want to copy the animation to.
- Go to File > Append.
- Navigate to the file you want to copy the animation from.
- Double click into the Action folder.
- Select the Action that is the name of the animation you want to copy. Then click Append.
- You’ll notice after clicking Append that the window closes and it appears nothing happened. Clarification on that is below.
- In the dropdown in the top left corner of the Dope Sheet select Action Editor.
- If you are in Object mode select the rig. If you are in Pose mode you don’t have to do anything. And proceed to the next step.
- After selecting Action Editor, to the right there will be a second dropdown. Open that and you’ll see the Action listed there that is the animation you are wanting to copy. Select that and BAM! Your character should snap into position of the first frame of that animation.
- Note: after doing the above change Action Editor back to Dope Sheet to ensure you can see the keyframes copied.