I have a very low tier simple animation question to a model I am making

Hello. this is a project I’ve been working on for the last few months.

Apart from making cameras slide about I know nothing about animations.

I made this model with the intention of it being possiblly exportable to either to UE4 or Unity depending who Im collaborating with, but I do all my stuff in Blender and personally Im not fussed about stuff like that.

this train model is parented as such…

Each carriage, wheels (bogies), doors are all parented to an empty at the center of each carriage, each of these empties is parented to the ‘master’ empty at the center of the train (I could change this order if its necessary later for complex stuff)

for over a year I’ve been trying to learn 3d animation and despite all the tutorials or advice online I receive i can’t get my head around it.

What I want to do:

have a model of a train which has 2 animations, one for doors on the left side opening, and one for doors on the right side opening.

so then if I press play I can have the left side opening or the right side opening and not both at the same time!

currently all I can do is move objects, insert keyframes and hit play, I cant seem to understand how to organise animations in to groups. People have suggested dopesheet editor or the NLA or action editor but im honestly lost. others suggested I learn Animation Nodes but that seems a bit too unnecessary.

the last few days I made a simple model in 2.7x and I was trying to work out the solution to my problem but I cant see a simple answer to this!

please help.

The NLA is pretty confusing, interface-wise. Personally, it took me several tries, months apart, to figure it out.

Okay, so you’re controlling with empties (let’s say they’re named door.R and door.L) and you already have the empties animated to do door open+ close animations.

Select door.L. Open up a dope sheet view. On the dropdown labelled “dope sheet” change it to “action editor.” Click in the name field of the action (which might say door.LAction) click and rename, then click on the shield icon to the right of the name to make a fake user. Click on the “push down” button. Select door.R and take the same steps for it, naming it appropriately.

Now open an NLA view. You’ll see two strips, each representing an action. Because you don’t want the actions occurring simultaneously, select one of the strips and hit g, then move your mouse and LMB confirm. The strips represent when, on the timeline, each action will be taken.

That should get you started. Note that personally, I would create an armature to have all of these actions on a single object.

hello thank you for your time.

in the 7 hours since you’ve replied I’ve managed to sort of do an NLA thing but I honestly aint got a clue whats going on.

regarding armatures. i see sometimes on tutorials people attach them to doors and stuff like that, isnt that just a bit of overkill ? I thought armatures are more for organic stuff like characters and limbs moving about or am I missing something? so is it better to have the train carridge as a single object with the doors sliding being done by armatures? i could do that in future but it would take a lot of faffing around to re-do this model so I cant do that this time around.

You can use an armature for anything. It’s just about what’s convenient. You certainly don’t have to learn everything at once; it’s good to give yourself some time before tackling a new concept.

Not overkill at all to use an armature for moving objects. They make the object control more convenient. For instance you can have a bone that opens a door. Great for sliding doors.

The simplest thing with your doors though is not to even use the NLA. Start by selecting both Empties at Frame 1 (or 0, matter of taste) and hit I to store a keyframe. Now move to the frame where the R door starts opening, select just the R door, move the Empty to the open position and keyframe again. Now go to where it finishes opening and keyframe again. Now go to the frame where the L door starts opening and keyframe, go to the frame where it finishes opening, move its Empty to the open position, and keyframe again.

And you’re done.