Best way to assign a unique bone to each vertex of a model?

Hey all,

I need to export a model from Blender with a bunch of vertex animation keyframes stored as shape keys, but my required import environment does not support shape keys.

I posted about the whole workflow I was working on here a while ago, but I think I was too quick to try and understand the fundamentals and got wrapped up in the eccentricity of such a request which might have scared some people off, haha.

Instead of making one topic for 5 issues, I wanted to focus on just the main issue. What would be the best way to go about assigning a unique bone to each vertex of a mesh?

In my proposed workflow I had theorised:

  • Making a vertex group for each vertex
  • Creating and parenting an empty to each vertex
  • Creating and applying a “Copy Location” constraint to each bone targeting each empty
  • Parent mesh to armature deformation with empty groups

The main issue with this workflow was the weird property of constrained bones where I would need to select a shape key twice in order for the armature to “catch up” to the constraint before I could save it as a pose.
I really want to script this out properly, so any help is welcome.