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CGIPadawan
12-18-2008, 01:11 PM
Ok. So I tried selecting all on my actor's original .blend file, including his armature.
Made a group and named it.

Opened a new blend file, and Linked to the Group.

Used Spacebar menu to add the Group and it appeared.

Selected it and pressed Ctrl Alt P to attempt making the armature a proxy

then I get error:

"Can Only Make Proxy For Referenced Group Or Object"

Am I missing something? It seemed every other tutorial was just saying:

"Click the Group Instance in 3D View and press CTRL ALT P"....

CGIPadawan
12-18-2008, 01:20 PM
Ok I figured it out. I used APPEND instead of LINK

Now the issue is that when I do make the Armature a Proxy it jumps to a different location and the mesh is now deformed badly.

Help. :P

P.S.: Seems like that what happens is the Object Center of the Armature (exactly where Spine1 bone root is) jumps to the location of the Object Center of the Mesh (exactly the center of the character's head).

BertieRooster
12-18-2008, 01:28 PM
Make sure that in the file you are referencing, the group is centred at the origin. Otherwise you will get weird stuff happening when you link it.

harkyman
12-18-2008, 01:34 PM
If you want to proxy the armature and have everything work well, you do not bring your character in as a Group (at least I don't). Instead, you go into the Objects section of the link window (not Groups), and select all of the individual objects that make up your character and its deformation structure (body mesh, armature, eye objects, mesh deform mesh, lattice, etc.). Then, you link them in in a single shot. Select the linked armature, and hit Ctrl-Alt-P to proxy it. Everything should stay as is.

I know that the Group method is supposed to work, but as you've noted it behaves... poorly... at times. The method I use seems to always work.

(If I may plug here -- it looks like you're working on a larger scale project. The book in my sig was specifically designed to help people who are starting to use Blender for more than just a rendering of a fruit basket. The chapters on story and character design may not be useful to you at this point, but the middle and later chapters that focus on how to use the Blender feature set for large project linking, layering for more polys than Blender can render, lighting tricks, using the compositor for large scenes and shorter renders, etc. would probably be just what you need.)

CGIPadawan
12-18-2008, 10:31 PM
Thanks Roland,


I will try the method you have described. :)
Too bad the Groups thing doesn't work as well as it should.

And you're right. I'm trying to make up for lost time here so I'm trying to go "bigger than fruit baskets". :)

Our next film is still actually quite small scale. It's a re-tread of Pixar's "Man playing Chess" theme, but it's more.... tense... and it's inspired by Gary Kasparov's ordeal with IBM's Big Blue and how he felt about losing to an inanimate object.

But this short, which would be my first with an actuall Start-Middle-End will also be where I experiment with better production structure, Linked Groups, Compositors, and intentionally trying to separate elements instead of doing everything "live" even if as an experiment for future true large scale work.

Thanks again. Everybody here is so helpful. :)

CGIPadawan
12-18-2008, 10:34 PM
If you want to proxy the armature and have everything work well, you do not bring your character in as a Group (at least I don't). Instead, you go into the Objects section of the link window (not Groups), and select all of the individual objects that make up your character and its deformation structure (body mesh, armature, eye objects, mesh deform mesh, lattice, etc.). Then, you link them in in a single shot. Select the linked armature, and hit Ctrl-Alt-P to proxy it. Everything should stay as is.

I know that the Group method is supposed to work, but as you've noted it behaves... poorly... at times. The method I use seems to always work.

(If I may plug here -- it looks like you're working on a larger scale project. The book in my sig was specifically designed to help people who are starting to use Blender for more than just a rendering of a fruit basket. The chapters on story and character design may not be useful to you at this point, but the middle and later chapters that focus on how to use the Blender feature set for large project linking, layering for more polys than Blender can render, lighting tricks, using the compositor for large scenes and shorter renders, etc. would probably be just what you need.)

Oh! I just noticed you're a Blender Dev! Please tell me the Groups Method will work in the next Blender release! :)

brkn
12-18-2008, 10:48 PM
eh? the groups method works beautifully, and it's a much much better way of organising assets than bringing in objects independently. All inter-object links (eg. vertex groups, modifiers, etc) get taken care of, you can add or remove objects from the character, it's all seamless. You can also apply pre-made action NLA strips to an entire group without even having to proxy it (good for background characters).

We use these tools on a daily basis, and it works just great - it's precisely what they're for and is the main reason we've mostly switched from Max.

What problems are you having exactly?

PS. maybe your armature is jumping if it's object center is not at 0,0,0 ?

CGIPadawan
12-18-2008, 11:37 PM
Hello Matt,


Yes, I think that's the problem.

The Armature's Center is at the hip area, the Mesh's Center is at the head.
The Mesh is Centered at (0,0,0). However, the Armature's center is slightly lower.

I think if I make sure everything has the same center and they rest at (0,0,0) in the original file it might just all work.

However, Roland has pointed out a work around for my current situation.
Since my human actor's body will be replaced for the next movie I could take note of the centering issue.

All the same, I find it odd that it cannot just retain the orientation from the linked original, but in the end it is a minor niggle if the problem goes away if all centers are at (0,0,0).

Cheers!

brkn
12-18-2008, 11:45 PM
Well the mesh doesn't matter, just keep the armature at 0,0,0 (a simple center cursor at 0,0,0 should probably do it) and it should all be sweet. It's really worthwhile using groups, they have a lot of advantages over linking in the objects directly, and can save you a lot of time in the long run.

CGIPadawan
12-18-2008, 11:58 PM
Yes. That's why I'm so eager to learn it now. So it is armatures that are sensitive to this thing. OK.

Thanks a lot. Really. It's fantastic. Blender is so powerful now that the only thing some of us lack is a renderfarm to really push things. But in a separate thread I've also been brainstorming for ways around this limitation.

I've been doing this the "fruit basket" way (thanks for the term Roland) or what I sometimes refer to as "Shooting it Live" and it's really messy. We're on track to finish that helicopter-alien short reel test but we really experienced all the issues of the fruit basket thing when we appended 3 different copies of a 400-part robot!. :P

So I am really thankful these things like groups exist and that there are proven workflows around them.

It's really also great to hear from someone out of ProMotion. When People ask how good Blender is, I always show them "Lighthouse".

:)

ysvry
12-24-2008, 01:23 AM
ive got a symilar problem with my cgchallenge entry, to turn the locomotive wheels i added an armature it works great but when i then group the objects and armeture the angle of the wheels has changed and they hang under the train in an angled way???
Do i have to put the armatures origin at 0,0,0? thats aquard as at the moment the armature sits right under the wheel movement. can those coordinates not be localized to the group?

CGIPadawan
12-24-2008, 01:45 AM
If my understanding is correct, yes, the armatures have to be at 0,0,0.

I would suggest making a copy of the library blend file to try it and then see if the mesh can be moved (Object or Edit Mode) so that the vertices are all again in their correct positions.

Good luck and Merry Christmas.

I don't experiment on this until January, taking a bit of a break first after releasing my little transformer project.

Cheers! :)

harkyman
12-24-2008, 05:17 PM
broken's right about using Groups being a better way than linking everything in one go like I described above. However, if you're stuck and moving your armature really screws things, my methodology works. First though, try moving your entire character, rig and all, in your library file. Just select your armature and note its x,y, and z locations. Then, select everything and move it in the negative of those values (easiest way: press G-X-the x value-the minus sign. Repeat for Y and Z. That'll move your entire contraption so that the armature is at the origin, and the Group linking and proxying will work correctly.

ysvry
12-24-2008, 11:09 PM
thx for your reply. the loco isnt in a seperate file i made it on a seperate layer, ill have a look at it next year too as for now its just for a still picture, so If i understand correctly I have to move the objects and armature to a new file and there i must take care to have the armatures origin at 0.0.0? Then i can group it to an empty and import that group in the scenefile?
happy xmass and a merry new year to you too. ;)

Bliz
12-29-2008, 04:08 PM
(If I may plug here -- it looks like you're working on a larger scale project. The book in my sig was specifically designed to help people who are starting to use Blender for more than just a rendering of a fruit basket.

Sorry to hijack the thread but the book sounded really interesting so I went to amazon. On Amazon you (Roland) mention that the second edition will be finished in January. If I don't own the book bnow is worth holding out for the second edition? Or will the second edition just contain small edits and corrections?

harkyman
12-29-2008, 07:17 PM
Just a few typos that I found as I re-read it. Nothing at all of substance is changed.

Bliz
12-29-2008, 09:18 PM
ok thanks, will order it tomorrow!:deal:

Kerusi
01-08-2009, 04:27 PM
hi there.. since this thread is regarding about groups and proxies..

i encountered a problem with linked groups. Last year,our company did a migration test from maya to blender =p.

here is what i encountered... we have a large set with multiple items.So we grouped them together to make linking easier..faced some problems trying separate the objects for rendering.. example; i have a group of pillars in the scene. On this particular short, 2 pillars are visible in the FG and 3 more in the BG.. we want to put this into different layer.. so that we can apply some blur later in comp. how do we separate it? make proxy and assign to a different layer? if that is the solution, i think it is not very productive!.

Another issue faced with linking is when we arranged all our props according to the general position we wanted, made it into a group. Animators will pick it up and link them. When our character need to interact with an element, for example some of the barrels and boxes tumble when the character falls. When we make proxy, it will pop! so we need to center the cursor for all meshes?or just the group?to animate the object, we gotta make proxy and center to the desired location? i don;t remember whether we are allowed to do that.I'm sorry if i;m repeating myself or have some arguments which are unclear! Been looking after different areas in the production pipeline,i fear i might get things all mixed up. I'm a "stand-in" TD during the whole project although i'm nowhere qualify to be one yet. We managed to wrap up production before christmas break!

and one last question, what does make local do? when i tried to make local.. nothing seems to happen? i can;t find any resources about this.

i'm really impressed with the work on kajimba! i really hope someday they can share their pipeline!

harkyman> cool book, i think i will check it out. i think it will answer alot of our production questions.

CGIPadawan
01-08-2009, 10:09 PM
Hello Chong Tek Loong,


I have observed the same thing. Right now it seems like everything you need to co-relate with each other must be in one layer. Also everything you placed in one group will end up being instantiated as a single object.

A simple work around might be to make a Foreground Pillars Group for the 2 pillars and a Background Pillars Group for the 3 in the back.

For other issues, Blender Devs out there please assist!


Cheers
Carlo

Kerusi
01-09-2009, 06:14 AM
hi carlo! you can just call me tek =)

yeah! i think that will work but i have multiple camera angles, so it might work for a single short but not all.. we do have the z depth pass.. sometimes its kinda heavy, i just want quick and simple setups. i can;t keep changing the groups too! all our shorts are rendered in a farm. if we make alot of different groups and save it separately, it kinda defeats the purpose of linking right?

cheers

harkyman
01-09-2009, 12:44 PM
Using a linked group for a set probably isn't the way to go.

What you want to do is to build your set in a BLEND file, like you are now, breaking the objects out into the layers you need.

Then, in your actual scene file where you'll be doing your animation/etc., you link in the entire Scene that contains the set, instead of a group. You'll have a new Scene available in your Scenes selector at the top of the screen. This is the linked Scene that represents your set. If you go to that Scene to examine it, you'll see that it's blue (because it's linked), and that you can't manipulate it at all. What you can do, though is turn layers on and off to show/hide objects.

Back in your main Scene (not the linked one with your set), go to the Render buttons, on the Output panel. Below the "Extensions" button is a little dropdown menu that probably says "No Set Scene" beside it. Click that dropdown and you'll see your linked scene as an option! Choose it.

Your linked scene is now the "set" for your main scene. It appears ghosted in wireframe mode, and is completely non-interactive. You can't select its objects -- i.e. it stays out of your way. So, you do your character animation/whatever, and when you go to use render layers/the compositor, the set will render right along with everything else, respecting its original layer designations.

I gave you the detailed breakdown of how to do it, so it sounds a little complicated, but really it's just:
- build set, name your set's scene, and save file
- link in entire scene
- choose linked scene as a Set via the render panel selector

Michael-Williamson
01-09-2009, 04:15 PM
I gave you the detailed breakdown of how to do it, so it sounds a little complicated, but really it's just:
- build set, name your set's scene, and save file
- link in entire scene
- choose linked scene as a Set via the render panel selector

Thanks. that's a gem! I never knew you could do that.

harkyman
01-09-2009, 04:20 PM
There's all kinds of stuff like that in my book... wink wink...

Kerusi
01-09-2009, 04:35 PM
hi! thanks.. yeah its sounds complicated .. i think i should be able to manage. . i will give it a try...

nod nods* the book indeed =)

Bliz
01-09-2009, 05:14 PM
Just ordered mine.

Thanks for the reminder :)

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