Help needed for best work practices

Hello everyone :grinning:

I have been using Blender from time to time to create simple models and animations for video games. Now with the new 2.8 I’m getting back into Blender and want to create a short clip. I know enough of the basics to model, texture and create simple animations for my low polys models.

But I’m unsure about project management. Previously in video games I had one .blend file for one character and his animations. Animations were individualized and didn’t need to be combined (this was the job of the video game code)

On the contrary for my project I’ll have 2 characters in a scene. They will move between points meaning that common animations like walking, sitting… will be reused at several points but some animations will be more unique to one precise point of the film, with maybe the 2 characters interacting with each others or the environment.
Moreover, the environment might change (for seasons for example, with leaves changing colors, terrain might move…)

So I was wondering what is the best way to combine all of this ? Should I have a separate file for each environment ? Or just collections ? Or animate changes with a parameter controlling all I need ?
Also most important : how to I edit a chain of repeated and custom animations ? My first instinct would be to just create a HUGE animation for the entire film, copy-pasting individual repeated elements. But this seems like a huge mess if I want to make a change like adjust the walk cycle for example. How can I do that better ? Is that what the Action Editor is for ?

From a beginning blender animator, thanks everyone for your help :slightly_smiling_face:

Hmmmm… I’ve got quite good at the various ways of linking objects into a scene in 2.79, but it’s probably changed in 2.8 what with Collections replacing both Layers and Groups…

My advice is to treat your film one shot at a time - create a new blend file for each shot, and either link or append all the assets as you need in. THere will be some exceptions to this: sometimes you can get multiple shots out of a single scene by teleporting the camera.

In 2.79 you can link an object, then Alt-duplicate it, and you have an object you can move around your scene (and, if it’s an armature, pose and animate) but not edit. I don’t know if this works in 2.8 - but you can try.

You can also append actions - and have a look at tutorials on the NLA for ways of combining actions.

I usually create asset-libraries for sets, actors, and props, carefully organizing them into an appropriate directory (folder) structure. Then, each shot is a separate file … I now use “scenes,” but I hear these are going away in 2.8 … which links to all of the assets that are required.

Also, I make very heavy use of OpenGL Preview renders, which can be produced in near-real time and which correspond exactly to a “real” render of the same shot. So, I use these (with the “stamp” feature turned on) to produce “footage” for a conventional film-editing process which takes place before any actual rendering is done.

The importance of editing can’t be over-emphasized. Alfred Hitchcock referred to the process as “assembly,” and this really is the case. You preview-render more footage than you need, freely considering angles and shots that you’ll never use, then edit it down, leaving much of it “on the cutting-room floor.” (Because, thanks to OpenGL, you can now afford to do that.) All this before you render anything. Then, you “drop in” the final-render versions one shot at a time, having already determined exactly what is needed, until your film is finished.

Thanks for your answers :slight_smile:

Yeah, linking and posing seems to be the best in my case, thanks for the tip.

What are OpenGL previews ? Isn’t Eevee good enough to speed rendering ?
But yeah clearly, I calculated that for a 3min short film with my setup I would need 90h of rendering if I want to use Cycles. So I’ll be testing it with previews first for sure !

hello everyone,

I am also very new to Blender and want to start my own first little project soon. My question is, do I create a Master Blend file for editing where all shots are referenced (is it linked or appended)? And then I go to each shot in seperate blend files where assets are linked as well?

“OpenGL Preview” mostly refers to Blender 2.79 and earlier, which did not have Eevee. The “Workbench” renderer appears to be close to it now. And, pragmatically speaking, yes, “Eevee is fast enough.”

But the overall workflow suggestions still hold: model with simple stand-in shapes, use “sun” lighting until lighting becomes important, then “shoot film, and lots of it.” Not knowing, and at this point really not caring, whether or not it will wind up in the picture.

You should use linking to manage shared assets – including your stand-ins. I use “Groups,” and am still learning about 2.8 “Collections.” If you append, you literally copy the asset from one file to the other. But, when you link, Blender refers to the original source. And, as you know, linking can be used within a file, as well. When the time comes to replace the scale stand-in with the real thing, you want to perform this work in a single file and have it immediately be effective throughout the project, which is what “linking” will do.

I commonly use “Scenes” for the individual shots. In the “shot file,” one master-scene links to the assets, then each shot-scene links to the master. This lets me specify the active camera and the output destination. (Cameras are usually positioned in the master scene. Everything is named.)