Noobish Q about mesh joining

Some friends of mine are doing a film for their college film fest and I am helping them do some animation for some StarWarsesque dogfight stuff. One of my friends gave me some models he’d made for the ships, and they look pretty good. The only problem is, instead building them by extrusion,etc. they were made out of a bunch of individual meshes. Now, I have ships that are composed of a bunch of objects, each with their own centers, many of which are nowhere near the actual mesh, having been added and dragged from somewhere else. Also, there are several different materials between them all.

So my question is this. What is the best way to handle this? One of the models had few enough different materials that I was able to just join the meshes into one and reapply the materials. But the other is too complex for that to be feasible. Is there some kind of join function that can keep the materials on the appropriate faces? or would it be better to just try and move all the object centers to the same location and parent it all together?



You could try using vertex groups and material indices. If you have 2 objects that each have vertex groups, each with a different name, when you join the 2 objects, the vertex groups are kept intact. Also, if you have more than one material assigned to a mesh joining them using Ctrl-j keeps the materials indices intact.

How are you joining the objects? Are you using any uv mapping?

Or you could parent all objects to an empty placed, say, under the model. Then you move and animate the empty, all the objects stal correctly located.