Using Blender for quick animatics

With Blender 2.8’s Grease Pencil animation system, I’ve been looking into using Blender as the tool for animatics at my studio, but I’m sadly coming to the conclusion that it won’t be able to do what I want.

Basically, I want to be able to generate new “scenes” (2D/3D) very quickly while being able to easily edit any scene along a timeline on the fly, all within the same file. Think Storyboard Pro (or even After Effects, Premiere Pro, or other NLE), but with Blender’s tools and viewport, which would be a dream.

The closest workflow I’ve been able to come up with was using VSE to lay out scene files as I create them. But it’s quite cumbersome as VSE isn’t independent of a given scene.
(All the more, I’m finding I can’t use 2.8 because of horrible lag when playing back a scene in VSE, so it looks like if I want to use Blender, I’ll have to use 2.79.)

So… for any Blender masters (or anybody willing to take a jab at this), some questions for discussion:

  1. Are there features in Blender I’m overlooking to achieve, or somewhat resemble, the workflow I’m looking for?
  2. If not, perhaps there are useful storyboard/animatic add-ons for Blender that could help? I’ve looked but frankly, and surprisingly, haven’t really found anything.
  3. Or perhaps there’s a better/alternative workflow I’m overlooking?
  4. And specifically, Is there a way to have VSE be independent of other scenes?

the only thing I can suggest is … use the view menu to jump in and out or your edit scene (the one with 3D View Full, Animation, Compositing, Default, etc) - this can speed things up a bit.

I’m thinking have your vse layout as its own scene and add other scenes as needed to be imported (added) to the layout scene; though this might be annoying to handle with a lot of scenes. Other method might be is to use grease pencil layers to manage different scenes (layer 1 is shot 1, layer 2 is shot 2) and use markers on the timeline to help with organization and timing. I’ve been also thinking of how best to handle this work flow, still coming up with ideas.

Yeah, had the same thought and tested it. It is a bit cumbersome, but the idea of it seems to work with linked scenes (though doesn’t seem to update unless the “master” scene file is reloaded every time, so that’s quite annoying).

In a single scene though, I’ve come across an interesting add-on that seems to do precisely what we want, just switching the viewport to activated cameras based on playhead position in VSE: Previz Camera Tools

Though future developments (at least to accommodate 2.8) seems to have been single-handedly stunted by the unfortunate decision to disable allowing current scene from being added to the VSE.

I think a development of a kind of “master” timeline for the VSE with the features of the add-on would make for an ideal workflow.

No need to link the current scene or use external linked scenes. the setup would be

scene 1 - video editor layout (scene 2 and 3 added)
scene 2 - shot 1
scente 3 - shot 2

just keep adding new scenes as needed in the same file , so if you need a new shot 4 , you create a new scene, draw on it then switch to scene 1 (vse layout) and add it .

edit: i wish blender would keep track of the layout per scene so I wouldn’t have to keep switching back to it after I go to a diff scene , but not to big of a prob.

Oh, that’s what you meant. Right, but the down-side is that any little change you want to make, you’ll have to jump into the scene, then jump back out to the first scene, which is a hassle.

I was trying to see if I use a separate file, it would be slightly less of a hassle.

But… oh, snaps, I just found if you duplicate a window and make that VSE, it’ll remain the VSE of the scene you duplicated out from, effectively making it like a global VSE. Outside of the manual labor of switching 3D view scenes, this actually seems like it’s going to work pretty good!

nice, didn’t think of doing that.

One thing to note, the trick doesn’t work in 2.8. I don’t know if it’s a bug (and which behavior is the bug), but I’m going to report 2.8’s behavior as a bug and see what the devs say. (Edit: Reported)

But, for now, lack of this ability and the very laggy nature of VSE+scene means 2.8 is a no-go for animatics for now.

Edit 2: Turns out it’s not a bug, but for 2.8, you have to go to Window -> New Main Window to get the same behavior.