Saved Actions

New to Blender but I am coming from other Animation Packages.
I’m trying to figure out if Blender has the ability to save and re-use animated actions. For instance, say I have an archery bow that I have animated to fire and reload in 15 frames. I only want to animate it once and save the action. Now I want to be able to re-use this action at frame 30, frame 90, frame 106, and frame 207, regardless of the orientation or location of the bow.
Am I able to do this, or am I going to have to change the way I think about re-using animations which are not cycles?

Start by looking at the NLA = Non-Linear Animation editor, which is exactly the sort of thing that you are talking about here.

First, you construct the action itself, which Blender describes as a series of mathematical curves. Then, you can place these actions one or more times on the NLA timeline. Furthermore, since they are mathematical curves, you can also combine them with other actions, do “stretching,” “ease in/out,” and so on.

I would say that most animations are built up in this way, because it’s a very efficient way to work.

For instance, you might decide that fire and reload are separate actions, and you might build actions for the archer which correspond to them (e.g. as he draws his arm back), and so on. Maybe you want to “stretch” the action a little so that it doesn’t always take “15 frames” to do the entire move. And, so on. Each action is a small thing, intended to be combined in NLA to produce the final effect.

“Walk cycles” are the bread-and-butter of NLA because you can very easily repeat them and vary them slightly. Once you get the walk-cycle(s) the way you want them, combining them is easy so that you get a believable walk without a lot of custom effort.

Very good post. Thank you very much.
I am going to have approx 20 bows being fired at a piano keyboard by some kind of robotic devices. Thus no need for stretching the action.
Is there some way to be able to drop this action on each bow when it is its turn to fire? Or will I have to manually animate each bow’s firing initially?
I can see this getting quite tedious having to find the action for the right bow and then copy/paste it in the new spot on the timeline as opposed to just drag and drop the one action on whichever bow I need at the right time.
I’m not whining at you, it’s just the frustration of learning a different software package.

I’m trying to figure this out too… Have you found the answer? It’s driving me nuts

Not yet. I am not moving very fast. Guess I have been waiting for the final of 2.8.

F. David Puthuff

I figured out how to do what I was trying to figure out. I don’t know if it will work with what your trying to accomplish. In the action editor you would create the ‘fire’ action. You must hit the STASH button ( while in the action editor ) in order for it to work in the NLA editor. Once it is stashed you open up the NLA editor create a new track on the object you want to repeat animations. Make sure the star icon next to the action is unchecked and make sure the star icon next to the new track is checked. From there you can you click on the timeline where you want your action to go and type shift-a and select the action you want to insert. You can add any action to the time-line and repeat as often as you want. I hope this helps

If I have 20 different Bows with the exact same rigging, Can I make only the 1 action and have it work on all 20 bows ? Or do I have to make 20 seperate actions? One for each bow.

From what I understand you have to hit the F button in 2.79 and the Shield button in 2.8 right next to where you name the action in the action editor. This saves the action to be used on any rig that is built the same way. So if all 20 bows use the exact same rig I believe it would work only using 1 action

Yes, I confirmed it. It works as I expected. It should work for your purpose as well.