An FBX Workflow Feature Request...

I’ve been playing with the new FBX importer and it’s looking very promising!! Great job devs! (Campbell, your the dev on this, right?)

I know its still early days, and animation is not yet supported, so I thought I would bring up a workflow need that will hopefully not be too hard to implement as you go along with animation support.

I’ve been wanting to incorporate blender into my studio’s workflow for a long time. We use Maya, primarily, and I’ve been trying to make maya and blender play well together. The workflow I’m after is: Blender and maya for modeling, maya for animation and blender for rendering. We already have support in blender for PC2 and MDD. FBX animation import is the big missing component, but it goes a bit further than that. It’s not enough to just be able to import animation data into blender. We must also be able to iterate that data quickly and easily.

A simple workflow example: I create a cube, apply a red shader and animate it in maya, then export the cube, shader and animation into blender. Once I’m in blender, I change the shader to green and get ready to render while another animator continues to refine the cube animation (this is a complicated cube, man). Now that the cube has a much more refined animation, I want to export that animation over the old one in blender.

As it looks now, I would likely have to import the cube all over again. A new cube with that old red shader now pops up alongside the green cube I’ve already set up. I now have to manually swap out and re-setup the cube again.

What would be awesome is if the importer checked for matching names at the start and only imported new objects. If it finds matching names, then have the option to replace the old animation curves with the new ones in the fbx. This would allow for very fast iterations on scenes. Lightwave already does this and it’s awesome.

Even without animation, this could be useful. Say a maya artist sets up a complex bedroom scene with 200 objects and exports it all to blender. The blender artists then starts setting up lighting and shading while the maya artist continues to refine the bedroom models. Once he’s done refining, he can re-export the fbx and the import will only add new objects, and re-position the existing matching blender objects without overwriting the shaders that are on them.

This feature would make the back and forth workflow between blender, maya and any other fbx-supported application VERY smooth, and make blender a highly desirable solution for rendering in an animation pipeline.

I hope I made some sense here. Thoughts?

Thanks again!

Most FBX importers work like that.

Sorry I have to, *you´re the dev … not your.

For interchange format inside a studio pipeline wouldn´t .abc alembic be really more attractive? where is iiiiiiit for blender. :stuck_out_tongue:

I haven´t used the FBX importer at all, but have used the exporter. I do hope animations are still exportable from blender via FBX.

Alembic would be highly desirable, yes. But that’s a long ways off, I imagine. We already have pc2, and we have a kick ass maya-to-blender pc2 script that batch exports multiple pc2 files from maya and batch imports them into blender. I can post this script if anyone is interested. It was written by one of the awesome devs on this forum. I’ll dig up his name once I get to work. :slight_smile:

A solid fbx importer will make the wait for alembic much more bearable and it’s off to a great start! I just wanted to describe the kind of workflow the blender importer needs to be more productive. I hope the devs are listening…

+10 I hope they listen, FBX seems to have a non disclosed studio as funder, but for alembic it´s almost time to start a fundraiser, I guess it´s missing a dev willing/able to code it.

Im reasonably sure that alemebic isn’t exactly intended as a replacement for fbx, by the way. It’s more of a point cache system than a mesh, joint, and animation curve system.

Now, that new endeavor by Pixar… That looks sexy and I hope it destroys FBX in a fire. Even if it does though, it will be years before it happens. So a solid fbx importer is the way to go until then! :slight_smile: