Animating a group

I feel as though I’m missing something very basic and simple … I have a model consisting of several animated pieces. Now I want to move the whole model around. The problem is that I can’t seem to move the whole thing at the same time. I’ve tried making all the elements into a group, and I’ve tried parenting everything to one of the elements, but whenever I try to click on the parent to move the whole system, only that one element moves. How do I set it up so that I can animate the motion of the whole model, instead of its component parts?

Turn on the Relationship Lines option under Display: in the View Properties panel in the 3D window (3D header -> View -> View Properties) . If you parented the objects correctly (select the object you want to be the parent object last), the dotted relationship lines will all point to the parent object (this assuming you selected all objects to parent to one object), and when you move the parent all the child objects will follow .

Grouping really has not much to do with object transforms (unless you select all objects and move them togther) …

Or you could add an armature and assign the various parts to individual bones (go into Pose Mode for the armature then select an object/mesh, then shift-select the bone you want to assign it to and Ctrl-P -> to Bone ) , so that when you move the root bone the entire set of meshes and bones will all move .

Grouping in Blender is wierd, in my opinion, but here is how I use it.

I’ll describe my helicopter scenario.

I have a helicopter that is made up of a bunch of pieces. So I parent all the top rotor blades to a central shaft. Then I animate the rotor so it continues infinitely with the correct out of range type. I do the same thing for the tail rotor. Now I have a bunch of meshes that are related, but represent a single object.

Delete everything else from the scene exept your animated model. Gruop the remaing items into a single group. I called my group “helicopter”. Save this blend file as helicopter_source.blend.

Close out and re-open Blender. File-Append/Link. You are now going to link in the helicopter that is in the external file. So browse and select the blend file. Drill down into the blend file under the group section and select your object (my helicopter). Now Append/Link comes up default as “append” this means it will import the geometry from one file into another. This is not what you want in this occasion. So make sure your click the “Link” button before you import the group.

After you Link in the helicopter you will have nothing on the screen and you will say this sucks, blender doesn’t work, where the fat is my model. Just like Prego, it’s in there. A linked group will not show up until you dupligroup it. Kind of wierd isn’t it?

At this point create an empty and press F7. Turn on the Dupligruop button and then type the name of your group in the group field. At this point a fully animated object will appear in your scene. All you have to do is animate the empty. You will notice that you can not edit the grouped object. To edit the object, you will have to open up the source scene that contains the grouped object, make your adjustments, save them then open up the scene that is hosting the grouped object.

This may seem like a pain in the ass, but by seperating animated objects into their own scene, you can have multiple animators working on different portions of the same scene with it all controlled by a master group hosting scene.

Well, thats my two cents on grouping an exterally animated object.

Sounds interesting, Atom. How would you manage this situation? The helicopter starts on the ground, props not moving, revs up the props, takes off, flies for a while, lands, then turns off the rotors and they spin down to a stop. Does the timing in the linked file match the timing in the file with the dupligroup?

Thanks for the great advice, folks. Parenting my objects to an empty made a world of difference. My object isn’t as complicated as your helicopter, so I didn’t have to nest .blend files, but being able to see the relationship lines (which are a little difficult to understand), and parenting to empties got me where I needed to be!