"playblast" with background image sequence

Hi All,

As the topic says, I have a sequence which I have in my background. I would like to ‘playblast’ with my animation. Right now the image background isn’t included in the viewport capture. I’ve also tried adding the sequence as a image on a plane, but the sequence doesn’t update in the 3d viewport.

Any suggestions??

stefan andersson

Make sure you have the “Auto-Refresh” button pressed in your background image panel.

not working, here is what I do

left ortho,
load background image
switch to sequence (and add how long the sequence is)
check the “auto refresh”
ctrl left click on the preview button

all I see is gray

u have to also set how many frames to use. http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:Manual/3D_interaction/Navigating/3D_View_Options

If your movie is applied as a texture to a BG plane it generally will not show up in the “playblast” preview render – not sure if the Texture display mode will allow this, particularly for movies, but you can try setting that mode after doing the other recommended stuff. It definitely will not show in Solid display mode, which is colored only by the basic RGB shader specs, no textures.

I did a quick test using an image sequence set as the BG image for a 3D window, Camera view, and when properly set up, the BG image plays OK when using the Timeline Play button, but not when using ALT+A, and does not show when doing the “playblast” render – this approach won’t work, I guess.

If you don’t mind doing it as a “post” process, you could easily use the Compositor to lay the playblast over an existing movie or image sequence, using one of the many matting tools available. I may be a bit rough but playblasts usually are, since they’re mainly for quick inspections of the animation.

I think that if Blender eventually will be used with live action, animators really needs this. And going through a post process is a bit too much as this is something you do perhaps 30-40 times a day (at least). I hope the devs will take a look at this for 2.5 as it’s kind of a ‘must have’ for us that comes from other packages.

Quick previewing of you animation with the live action footage in the background shouldn’t take more than a few seconds (aka 'ctrl-click the render button).
I’m not sure where to log this request though, but as a reference… look at any other 3d software (they all have this).

stefan andersson

I agree, it would be very useful to have something like a live action/3D composite “pre-viz” that works as fast as the “playblast” button. However, the “post” operation isn’t as slow as you might think once the nodes are first set up.

My current approach is to have the Compositor setup in a separate file that I open in a second instance of Blender. I keep the node tree simple as possible since it’s just “pre-viz” level stuff. When I write a new “playblast” of the CG I just overwrite the old (whether the output is an image sequence or movie) so the Compositor file will see the new output when it’s opened. I click through the Timeline to check major points in the action, and if it looks OK I render a test to .avi or QT.

If the node tree is kept simple and the output is kept small ( I use 50% scale most often), even fairly long passages – 600 to 900 frames @ 30fps – don’t take all that long, even on my old and rather slow Windozer. For example, I just ran out a 500-frame simple composite @ 700x480 (close to full-size in this case) in less than the time I took typing this response.

I’m sure it’s quite quick, but when you are trying to set up a workflow for several users it’s not as streamlined as I would have hoped.


You could append a pre-built node grouping into any project file to simplify the process. Here’s a tutorial showing how to create and use node library files: http://www.cgcookie.com/articles/2009/07/16/create-a-reusable-composite-node-library

Of course, it would be better if you didn’t have to use compositing. With the new events system in 2.5 this should no longer be a problem.

Hyperbole? I mean, c’mon, an eight hour day = 480 minutes / 40 = a playblast output every 12 minutes? Even at sweatshop hours you’re saying one about every 20 minutes or so. When do you have time to actually keyframe anything :wink: ?

Scrubs and UI playback are very useful “scratchpad” tools – I use 'em a lot and save the playblasts for review of a couple hours work at least, in most cases.

But, to each his or her own.

When you working with animation everyday, you learn fast that the only way to actually view animation in a proper way is to watch it in real time. So even if the playblast is only 25 frames, it’s worth it. And you should check often, and especially if you have a character which might not be as interactive as you have hoped, you then really need to check quite often. Perhaps 40 times a day is pushing it (on a normal day) but if you work long days (which happens time to time) you need a simpler solution.

And to be brutally honest… this is something that shouldn’t be an issue, even if you only make 2 playblasts a day. It really should be a “one button solution without any modifications”, since it’s a common workflow for animators.

Anyhoooooooooooooooooo… it would be a great addition to Blender, and I think it should be added for 2.5.


Playblast, as per the Maya term, is not a rendering as in a Blender Internal with a playback. The equivalent in Blender is to play back an animation at the desired framerate using the 3D view. To do this, in the Timeline window, set Playback->Sync Playback to FPS. Then alt-a to play. Downgrade your view mode to match the power of your PC until frames are not skipped.

For a very fast render, use the QuickView OpenGL render button (ctrl-click) to make a fast movie.

In this case ALT+A doesn’t seem to provide for playback of a BG image sequence with the animation, which is the main point of the OP. The BG image sequence only seems to play back properly when using the Timeline Play button, in the tests I’ve done.

As far as terminology goes, a lot can be said for being adaptable in the language – I’d much rather type “playblast” than “QuickView OpenGL render” :D, and I think most folks know what’s meant by the term, regardless of whether it has a specific origin.

Hello, I guess I would be quite the noob, because I’m not %100 sure by what you mean for playblast.

I came across this post while searching for image sequences as the background since I was having trouble. After playing with it, I found it’s quite picky about the name. It seems to work if it is: “name_1.jpg” “name_2.jpg” ect.

Blender apparently doesn’t like “name_001.jpg”. It’s also having problems with a large numbers of images, at least on m computer.

From there, it’s - view - background image - and then you have to specify the number of frames and auto refresh.

Hope this helps

“Playblast” is just a word sometimes used for the OpenGL rendering option, usually applied to animated sequences. The OpenGL render button is at the far right of the 3D Window header/footer. Its tool tip is “Render this window (Ctrl click for anim)” – it’s not a full render, it just shows what’s in the 3D viewport. This can be an Active Camera view, or just the 3D viewport camera, perspective or orthographic.

It’s a very good way to check animation “at speed,” since the Blender UI playback controls (Alt+A and the Timeline) tend to lag somewhat. You can set up the output as a movie format like AVI Codec, and with FFMPEG, you can write the audio as well if it’s placed in the VSE and the output settings include mulitplexing the audio.

You can play the “playblasts” back in Blender using the PLAY button in the Scene context/Anim tab, but not with sound. For sound playback I recommend getting the open source utility Virtual Dub, which is an excellent addition to your toolbox for a number of reasons.