Cycles crashing both baking and rendering. Only 6/16 gb mem used. I'm chasing a Ghost

Uncle Jeff pre combine.blend (4.2 MB)

Hey guys. The above is the entirety of my scene. I will try to simplify this but it’s a specific issue and it is likely not what you think. I have Googled this and it is not the memory/graphics card related issue that others are having. It is not a stuck “play” button. We’re talking hard crash to desktop.

The scene render works in EEVEE but not in Cycles. It crashes on “Initializing” displays in the upper left of the viewport.

If I delete “Jeff 1” (I have two “Jeff” collections) it renders. If I leave it, it crashes. If I delete SOME objects in Jeff 1, it MIGHT crash. Depends on which objects.

Okay but here is where I run into trouble. It’s not that simple.

You may think “okay, so delete an object, try to render, and repeat, until you find the culprit.” Yes, I did that, and that doesn’t work. It never renders that way. But like I said deleting every object in Jeff 1 works. If I delete the torso, arms, and arm-body connecting pieces, it was working, I think. But now it is not any more.

Also, before finding the culprit to be Jeff 1, I thought I found the “corruption” in the “stage” object, because for awhile it was rendering when I deleted it. And of course right when I go to create a new “stage” I realize it is no longer the culprit.

Sorry if this sounds crazy. It feels like I’m chasing a ghost and it’s driving me mad. I could decide to remake the entire “Jeff” but I could do that and then find something else is causing the crash.

I am on 2.90
I am on Windows 10.
I have a 2080 Super and 16gb of RAM and I’ve had MUCH larger and more complicated scenes than this before. Task Manager shows me only going up to 6.1gb of RAM used out of 16gb when the crash happens. Vram is 1.8/8.0GB.
I am rendering with GPU. CPU rendering also crashes in the same way, though.

I have crashed blender literally over 100 times trying to diagnose this. Thank god for the quick startup time.

Let me know if there is any more information you need. Thank you.

The first thing I would try would be to make new .blend file and append one by-one all assets or collections from the original .blend.
I fixed couple of my projects that way. The culprit was moving scenes between different versions of Blender and the .blend files got corrupted.

Second thing - if you are experiencing hard crashes repeatedly you should report this as a bug.
The crash leaves special file named crash.txt in Blender /temp directory. Attach this to the bugreport along with your system info - Top menu bar -> Help -> Save System Info.

Thank you. This project was started and progressed to this point in 1 day, so I did not update Blender.

I have tried appending different assets to a new scene and am unable to figure it out. I have been going in an out of it, appending different things, but I can’t seem to understand the connection between the crashing and the assets I’m importing. While I can seemingly stop the crash by altogether deleting an object, I still cannot deduce its origin by importing assets one-by-one, as it produces the same result as me deleting assets in my main .blend.

For example, I found that, by appending the main stage and the 2 characters, it crashed. But, when I append only one whole character it works. So naturally I try appending the 2nd character one piece at a time, right? Well, I find that the Axel breaks it. So, I don’t append that but keep going. I find another asset that crashes it. Okay but now when I try the scene with ONLY those two broken assets they work fine. And I can load in other assets and then it crashes when I load in objects that previously worked fine together.

There is some kind of link between the two characters, I think, that is breaking it. I just don’t know enough about the background object data stuff to think up an answer. Meanwhile I can duplicate the characters 100 times and the scene renders just fine. It’s only when both of these characters are in the scene at the same time that it breaks.

I am in the process of creating a bug report but would love further assistance. Can someone maybe tell me if the .blend file runs in Cycles on their machine as-is? That would tell me if it’s specific to my computer or set up.