Animation scene: linking to fully rigged character

Hello,

I know the basics of linking to libraries:
http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:Manual/Data_System/Linked_Libraries
But in practice… :frowning:

More specifically, I wish to use the character Ludwig for a series of scenes:
http://jasonpierce.animadillo.com/resource/ludwig/ludwig.html

I am trying to get organized from the get go:
http://www.enricovalenza.com/librtut.html

However, if I create a new blender file (for my first scene) and try to link to the Ludwig character in the other blend file, I am experiencing some problems.

First of all, I don’t know what exactly to import. There are many meshes, armatures, textures, etc. There does not seem to be a single “Ludwig” object that I could import and that would include everything at once.

Also, if I try to import all the elements that appear to me to be relevant, they end up disconnected (as far as I can tell).

So I have three questions:

  1. Most specifically, how can I link to the whole Ludwig into other blend files representing my successive scenes?

  2. For rigged characters in general, what is the procedure to link to them? Are we supposed to be able to import them at once? Or should we import the bones, the mesh, etc. separately? Is there anything that the author of Ludwig could do to make linking to the character easier?

  3. More generally, do you have advice or links to pages with advice on how best to organize files and libraries? I am currently working alone, but others may join me later on, so I’m looking forward to reading more on how groups of people work together.

Thanks,

Augustin.

I’m facing the same question…

animating with blender has a lot of info on organising scenes and linking assets

Thank you ave, for pointing this book out.

tbh, I don’t know how to do this with Ludwig since I never use him, but for my rigs I create a group that contains everything from the rig (armature, meshes, objects parented to bones) except for the display widgets, because for some reason, if they are part of the same group, they won’t appear.

So I don’t append or link objects, I link a group. Then I go to add>group>my character group.
I’ve been having some issues with group links getting lost when I move files around though, and trouble reconnecting them. So I mostly just append stuff. My rigs tend to not have anything in the file not belonging to the rig, so I append every object.

Yeah, to link a character you need to have everything grouped into one set like Freaky said. Otherwise your proxies will be disconnected from eachother and unable to communicate…

Freaky,
I’m intrigued that you usually append… having heard this I’m wondering if it might not be the better option! I can think of only 2 reasons for linking…
1.)To make changes to the rig without losing the animation.
-I have just proven to myself this is a hoax! I appended my tom hanks character into a new scene, put some animation on him, then deleted everything that was a part of his group, and appended his group once more. I could simply select his armature in pose mode, select the action I had made… and voila! They were reconnected!
2.)To keep file sizes at a minimum.
-True, but my characters are usually small. In fact, this suzanne rig I’m working on is nearing completion and it’s still under 1mb! (everything is done with bones, which keeps the computation to a minimum).

Those are the only reasons I’m aware of for linking at all. I may be wrong, if someone can name another reason please do!

But I would also like to add some reasons NOT to link:
1.)Refresh issues between proxies.
-I know this technique is not very common, but with the double armature rigging I’ve started experimenting with, there is a guaranteed refresh issue while linking… so it seems reasonable that I shouldn’t link. Since I have to make a proxy for each armature, the proxies don’t communicate well, leading to problems. This doesn’t occur when appending.
2.)Access to unproxied information.
-Maybe I’m just a noob, but when I was working on my Tom Hanks animation I wanted to do a separate render pass, requiring that I replace all Tom Hanks’ shaders with a flat white one. I could not figure out how to do this on a linked character! Is it possible? I had to change the shaders in the original file (I ended up making a duplicate and switching between the two). This was mildly inconvenient.

So… I’m very interested to hear a reason to link, because it no longer seems to me to be the best option! If you organize your character group properly, it can be updated easily (keeping it all on one layer, and the only thing on that layer allows you to easily select it all for deletion and re-importing). And it leaves you access to the original data without refresh issues…

Thanks for the comments so far. :slight_smile: I’ll try to learn as much as I can about grouping.

Have you ever had a look at the menu entry:
File > External Data > Make all path relative
which would be the way to set up a sub-directory that you could move as a whole,
and:
File > External Data > Report/Find missing file
if anything goes wrong…
?

If you’re working alone, maybe none… but if the goal is to enable a group to work together, keeping things separate can help: one can work on the mesh, another on a texture and a third on the animation. They can then upload separate files without erasing each other’s work.

(btw, I liked your Tom Hanks animation :))

Thanks all for your replies so far. As a result of your replies, I am now doing a very, very simple character (like Gingerbread in the wiki.blender tutorial) and do all the rigging and grouping until I can get a feel of how things should be ideally done for linking. Then I’ll see what to do with Ludwig and other characters.

Blessings,

augustin.

I’ll try to learn as much as I can about grouping.

Think of grouping like tags. Or if you use gmail, like labels - multi-membership is possible. They are sets, and carry no object information (like they do in Maya). They make it easy to organize your content when linking or appending. Just select the file with the group you want to append/link select “[file]->group->[your group]” and all the grouped data is linked/appended into the file. If it is appended it is loaded automatically, if it is linked you need to use “spacebar menu->group->[my group]” to create an instance of the linked data. Also when linking you will need to create a proxy for anything you want to be able to modify with “ctrl+alt+p->[data to be proxied]” like an armature on your character for example which you can then animate.

When linking you can also change the path or filename in the outliner by selecting “libraries” in the rollout, and “ctrl+clicking” the group path you want to change.

I think that’s all there is to it!

If you’re working alone, maybe none… but if the goal is to enable a group to work together, keeping things separate can help: one can work on the mesh, another on a texture and a third on the animation. They can then upload separate files without erasing each other’s work.
Totally, but once the data is complete, you could probably append it all into one file right? And even in a group, when the animation starts the rig is complete! And the model is completed before the texturing is applied. If changes need to be made, they can be made as I outlined in my other post… I have not experimented with this fully, obviously, as I just got the idea from this thread! But it seems to me like this is actually the better way to go!

For example, I just tried animating a linked character, then importing the action onto an appended character, and it worked fine! You could do this with rigs, texture data, etc…

(btw, I liked your Tom Hanks animation :))

Thanks! :smiley:

Thanks again. You gave me plenty to chew on. I’ll test everything you gave me.

I found some reading for me here:
http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:Manual/Modelling/Objects/Groups_and_Parenting

Apparently, such groupings are missing in Ludwig. I’ll see if I can add them.

Meanwhile:
http://overshoot.tv/node/565

I want to say that I am talking explicitly about characters only! Linking comes in very handy for sets! But I’m just not seeing a need to link a character, since it seems to cause more trouble than it’s worth!

Edit:

http://overshoot.tv/node/565

That’s really nice, thanks! :smiley:

The debate about linking or appending is settle for me for the time being: I am appending everything until I figure out why each time I link to an object, I cannot edit anything about it.
I linked to a simple brick wall, but I couldn’t move, scale, or rotate the wall!
I managed to make a sensible grouping with the Ludwig character, but when linking to it, I couldn’t pose the character, let alone animate it!

So, for now I append everything in every scene, until I have a real need to do otherwise…

You need to first create a proxy for all the parts you want to edit in the linked data with “ctrl+alt+p -> [part to edit]”

And I agree, that’s what I mentioned earlier… I couldn’t change the shaders on Tom Hanks when he was linked, I had to open up his original file and change them in there (I actually created a duplicate so I could switch between them in the outliner).

At the end of the day it just works better to append, as opposed to linking assets. If you were working on something at the same time as someone else - say you were arranging a scene while someone else was modeling the elements… then yeah, you would link all the elements in and arrange them. That’s what I meant - I’m talking about characters, because for sets linking is great!

When it comes to characters: Modeling has to be complete before texturing… and you can refine a model while someone else makes a rig for it - but once the character is complete I would unite both in the same file. Also, once the character is skinned and weighted you generally don’t want to change the model anyways. The rig needs to be complete before the character is animated… etc…

Although there is an interesting technique used in Maya pipelines that I think could be done in Blender… you can constrain an armature for a complex character onto another armature of a simple character, so the final version of the character follows along with the animation of the proxy character…

But I’m getting waaay too complex here… lol

Bottom line, I think appending is better in Blender (not in Maya, which is interesting). This is because Blender nodes can be hooked up easily (as I mentioned I can import an action into a scene, and apply it to the character and voila! And likewise I can delete a character and re-import them, and then apply the animation. Or even weighting for the armature… since it’s done using vertex groups, as long as those vertex groups have the same name as the bones… you’re good! So you can import a mesh from another file, and apply it to the same armature without re-weighting! Just apply the armature modifier…

Blender is setup this way, so yeah… my general feeling is that linking characters is both impractical and redundant.

Hey all…first post for me…yay…
Im relatively new to blender, and Im using it for a uni assignment (im studying game design…good on me…)

Ive downloaded someone else’s rigged model, assigned the arrow keys to the different animations, and parented a camera to the mesh, and have him walking and running around the place with the camera following nicely behind, which will do for now (until I figure out the whole ‘move the camera with the mouse’ thing…) I then grouped the mesh, bones, and camera together…

The problem is when I try to add (append or link) the group into a scene Im making…if I append it, when I press play, the character/camera dissapear…if I link the group, it moves around fine when I play, but I can’t see out the camera that is linked in with the group…any ideas?

Maybe there is a thread somewhere I cant find about setting up a character for use in a game? Ive already bought the text book, but its in the mail :stuck_out_tongue: Also, if someone can help with a tutorial on camera/mouse tracking, that doesnt involve taking apart a FPS sdk (no shooting in my game, its for the kidlets…) Cheers people

Well I will say that my opinion on linking vs appending characters in this thread was given specifically with film in mind. I am not familiar enough with the game engine to answer your question, but my guess would be it has something to do with the naming of the objects and logic bricks. I don’t think you should make the logic for your character in the separate file, that you should append it and then create the logic all in the same file.

For help on the game engine I would check out the game forum, they will likely be more helpful in there :slight_smile:

Hi,

I didn’t want to start a new topic when I found this one on it.

I have been trying to group my character so I can link it in all at once as a group.

This is what I have been doing:

  1. Add armature to group names “Frank”
  2. Add main mesh to same group
  3. Add two clothing items
  4. Add lattices and hooks to group
  5. Parent everything to the Armature

If you look in the outliner then select groups, you have the group called “Frank” below that the armature then below (inside) that everything else.

Is this the correct way to do it?

The thing is, I link the group in, then do Ctrl - Alt - P and proxy the Armature.

Everything works fine. I close the file however, open back up and the actions I created for example foot roll and with the Jaw bone movement (mancandy method) no longer work. I move the bone and it does nothing. I look in the action editor and the keyframes, I can not see them. It is odd as when I first Linked it in, they worked. However upon closing and re-opening, it does not.

Have I done something stupidly wrong, or is this a sort of bug?

Regards, Glenn