Understanding new layer render system, collection and workspace

Hi there,

From time to time i m poking Blender 2.8 builds and i m, like others as well, having hard time to understand the new render layer system, collections and workspace.
I m making this thread so we can understand together the new system. I know that Blender 2.8 is on very wip but i believe that since the system is already there we can talk, share and understand it.

I have been poking Dalai and Severin in IRC from time to time and this is what i have understood so far:

  • An object can belongs to 1 or many collections and a collection belongs to active selected render Layer when a collection was created,…
  • To create a object and put it on a given collection, which will be placed in a given render Layer we have to do this:
    • Create a new render Layer from the scene panel and select that render render Layer from the render layer top bar menu, and then in the outliner pick the Active Render Layer display type and add a collection. With collection selected add on object.
  • And to hide an object from 3d viewport we should:
    -make sure that the object’s render Layer is selected from scene panel and render layer top bar menu, and then hide the collection, where the object belongs, and hide it as well from the master collection.

I don’t know about you but for me this is too much work for something we have been doing with 2 clicks (hit m -> select layer) :spin: May be i m missing something here.

Did you guys used Render Layer, collection and workspace? How does it fit into your workflow? How much do you understand it?

Edit: After reading other people feeds i just realized that i didn’t mention the positive side of the new system here is some that i have noticed:

  • Collections are like the old layer system that we have in 2.7 series, but now we can rename them and rearrange them.
  • We can have a lot of collections in Render Layers.

I haven’t really attempted to use the new layer system much. It’s all way too WIP to get attached to any particular workflow, as I’m certain the execution will change, probably half a dozen times, before release.

You are working with pre-alpha software, try to keep that in mind as you are forming opinions. At this point, I’d give the developers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they haven’t finished the implementation. Assume that you are missing something that will come in later, rather than making judgements about incomplete code.

I agree about the potential workflow change bit, the developers haven’t even offered up an official 2.8 build as an alpha yet and even that is likely still a ways off (hence why they strictly want you to only use it for testing and feedback purposes).

Seems complicated, but I guess users will be able to emulate blender 2.79 workflow in 2.8 series, with custom addons. On the other hand new collection system is way more powerful and flexible complared to 2.7 series.

The new collections seem a bit confusing but it is mainly because they are still unfinished and many important tools and features are still missing. Collections are far superior to the current layer system and will be a huge relief when organizing more complex scenes.

@erickBlender: In your screenshot you made a huge mess in your system. You should name your layer according to what is inside. You should not use words like collections and render layer at all. The master collection can be named “everything” or “Scene” and the other collections can be called “Lamps”, “Red objects” etc. You should also use the “Master collection tree” view in the outliner to setup your collections and to sort your objects and the “Active render layer” shoud be used for hiding the layers you don’t want to see. You also don’t need 5 different render layer for such a simple scene. One render layer is all you need and it will be much less confusing.

still haven’t tried to new render layer system, but the changes I am seeing looking at development thread are good and even more necessary.

2.7x render system is completely out of date. Maya which I generally hate, as a much better layer system.

the main targets to be kept in mind for a good layer system are IMO:

  • ability to add and remove objects from a layer in a way that is not based on viewport layers. Just add them.
  • ability to create overrides in render layers for everything. Like overrides in render settings, override in objects transformations, overrides in material assignments and so on so on.
  • I stress again the ability to control render settings on a layer basis. Stuff like frame range, camera used etc etc.

These are the things I am missing in the render layer system of blender and that is a pain not to have especially when working on big scenes.

with that said, I still didn’t try blender 2.8, so I a not sure how the new system is working so far.

I just edited the first post, it seems like after so many attends to understand that workflow i was probably tired and i didn’t remember to post some pros regarding the new system. Sorry if it felt like a rant.

The screenshot above, it is me trying to understand what blender was doing when i was clicking some buttons, so have to rename those collections so poorly :frowning: and easy for me to track what i m doing :slight_smile:

I’m assuming we’ll have some sensible operators to speed things up. I want nothing to do with the outliner. I work without it and only once in a while I clean things up.

If not, I will complain. A lot. Every day. Everywhere. Until they ban me or it’s fixed.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Me too. I wonder how many of us are not used to using the Outliner :slight_smile:

I have not read or experienced much about the new system, so I still can not comment much. Just say I’ve seen some of the videos, and it looks a bit scary for me (maybe because I’m not used to using the Outliner). As a first impression of what I’ve seen in videos, I’m worried about how big you should extend the panel to have an optimal view of the outliner and the elements in layers there.

Regarding moving objects with “M”, I assume that layers/collections will have some kind of numbering or order? (*Edit)

I just hope it can be possible to complement the new system with some graphic and visually simpler method to do fast/quick tasks.

Maybe order and numbering should be related to the position in the outliner stack. First collection will immediately be assigned “1”, and so on. Then you can change the position in the stack (select and some up down buttons, or drag&drop) and the numbering changes automatically according to the new position of the collection in stack. Well, more or less as layers work in some graphic editor programs.
I see that apparently the system can have ramifications, so subnumeration might be necessary, 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 etc

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Am on the opposite side - I have the Outliner, Layers, File Data structure always clean & in order.
Simple personal organization choice, it is not wasting any time doing it while working but saving, sparing it for the future - Guess what makes it easy to manipulate heavy scenes even after a year or more… appending stuff, correct shaders along, evolve further…

haven’t really dwelled into 2.8 yet, just dipped my toes

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It’s not really about wasting time, and more about working at the speed of thought. It’s like having to sharpen your pencil while drawing. It’s annoying and distracting.

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SO I haven’t really had a chance to delve into the Layer system just yet. I did mess around with it and watch some videos on how it works so I at least have a “Vague” idea of what’s in store.

First I have to say that to me, a good render layer system is one who’s sole purpose is to allow you to store different states of the scene in different layers. That’s really all there is to it. They are not simply a way to organize your scene or to simply render different items in their own pass. You need to be able to change all the different properties of objects on a per render layer level. This is can be complicated to manage internally and very few programs do it well. XSI, Maya and Modo are really the only ones that I know of.

How it generally works in those programs is, You create a render layer, go to a property of an object (usually a shading setting like shadow casting or diffuse color or even the material used) make a change and store it as a render layer “Override”. Those overridden values are stored in the render layer and simply override the original values when the render layer is selected. This is kinda critical to an advanced render layer system.

In many ways it’s similar to how key frame data is used. But instead of changing on a frame by frame basis, it’s changing on a layer by layer basis.

Now my question is, is this the intention of the new render layer system or is it just a more complicated system for organizing objects and render them in their own passes? So far I haven’t really seen a good answer to this.

Right. And this is feedback.

… yet, does also sharpens a thought :wink:

I think the main issue here is that the outline is not really as useful as it could be. For instance, what if you could organize it how you like instead of just alphabetically? What if you could drag and drop hierarchies around to define relationships? What if you could instantly jump to the modifier by clicking on it in the outliner? What if you could drag individual modifiers and constraints to other objects or hold CTRL while dragging to copy them?

Just say’n

Those are a nice bunch of good ideas. I use the outliner for complex rigs, to have the hierarchy laid out in front of me - this is pretty much necessary. That’s the only use I have for it, also keeping things named so I can find them.

For now it seems endless collection and the ability to rename them, reorganize them. May be devs Severin or Dalai are in good position to answer?

I’ve looked more into this and have discovered that indeed, what I mentioned “Should” be possible. In the proposal doc, they do mention Overrides as a property of the collection inside of the render layer. So, that’s a good sign.

BTW, after downloading the latest build and playing around a bit, I can see that we’re kind of far off from having any kind of working render layer system. Right now it’s just in it’s infancy and I can’t really tell what’s intended and what is meant as a placeholder. I think I’ll stay out of the discussion till we finally have something solid to comment on.

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about collections and Render Layers lately. I think the solution to what you’re asking for is actually pretty simple:

Hit “M” and it brings up a floating menu of all the current collections. Picking one sends the selected item(s) to that collection. Hitting a “+” should prompt you for a new name and then move the selected item(s) into that collection.

Later, as you create your render layers, you can link in your collections that you made earlier. This is essentially the same thing as we have now but you can name them instead of sending them to a numbered scene layer.

Yes, that could be a possibility.
But I wonder if it would also be good for scripting/addons that this has a numerical order instead of depending only on arbitrary names that a user can give them.