For years I have used the one folder organization method when working on a project. It worked out rather well, especially since each project had ten or so files (a couple of blend files, a few textures, maybe a reference image or two and the odd sound effect or song). Everything was in one place and very easy to find. So as things go, over the years my projects have gotten bigger, or more accurately, my project folders have gotten bigger. In fact, those folders seem to be collecting more and more files at a rather alarming rate. That makes it just a tad bit confusing when I want to go bak and reuse something I have already done in a new project.
I hate to say it, mainly because I am so used to doing it my way, but I do believe it is about time to start using a more organized system (as well as set up a nice master Library, but that is a whole different project).
After a bit of poking around the blenderwiki, as well as peeking into all the folders and files on my copy of Big Buk Bunny, I am beginning to see some nice ideas for project organization. Now granted, I could go about organizing things any way I want, as long as I am consistent and can remember why I set it up that way to begin with. But I am looking for some pointers, and let's face it, these Blender gurus generally know what they are doing.
So let's take a look at how they set up their production files. When you open up the “production” folder, you see a series of folders.
They have set up individual folders for characters, environments, mattes, props, scenes, scripts and sets.
This seems to be a pretty good breakdown of all needed elements for an animation. At first I thought the scripts folder was for the story script, but it actually contains python scripts they used throughout the production. Further poking around revealed that the storyboards and animation scripts are in different folders on the disc. Most likely that was done just for the DVD set up, so I would probably go ahead and create a folder in the production folder for my animation script and storyboards, just to keep my project all together.
Okay, onward we go with our exploration. If you look into each of the folders you will notice that they are even further organized and separated into the various blends and folders needed for each folder type.
Let's take a closer look at what they included in each folder.
- blend files: a separate file for each character in the animation
- textures (in its own folder): all textures for the characters
- python constraints (in its own folder): various python constraints that were written for the characters
- blend files for various environmental elements (such as trees, rocks, flowers etc.)
- textures (in its own folder): all textures for the environmental elements
- blend files for the sky hill and clouds backgrounds
- textures (in its own folder)
- plates: exr files
- blend files for all the various props used by the characters (such as the apple, acorn, bow, etc)
- textures (in its own folder): all textures for the various props
- blend files of the needed sets (thinque Hollywood, sets are much easier to build for only what the camera will see versus building the whole forest or mountain range)
- textures (in its own folder): all textures for the sets
Scenes: (we will talque more about these in a minute)
- python scripts used during rendering
- sungrid: folder for sungrid sh files
- each scene in the animation gets its own folder to contain the blends for that scene
- DVD folder that contains blends used for the credits
- elements folder: contains a blend for elements' animations
As you take a look at this list (or if you have the DVD or downloaded the production files), you will notice a few things. First, they created separate blend files for each element in the animation. This of course makes it much easier for various members of the team to worque on various things at the same time by making use of Blender's ability to link to other blend files. That's a huge time saver.
Second, each folder has its own texture folder. Nothing is worse than having a large number of textures and not being able to remember right off hand what the texture goes to, although appropriate file naming would of course be helpful as well.
Third, depending on the folder, there are separate folders for python scripts and other needed elements.
In this particular setup, most of the folders and their contents actually end up being used as a “Master Library” for the production, with the individual scenes being the end point for all the various created elements. Each scene blend file is populated and linked bak to all the needed elements for that scene. So the end result is that they have a very organized and efficient set of production files that can be modified as needed and updated automatically in the scene files. Which of course makes the production run smoother. But we already knew that, organizing always makes things more efficient and easier to use.
And as a bonus, once the production is over, it is now very easy to go bak and actually reuse elements for a different project. Since every element has its own blend file, you can use the files as a Master Library to create a new animation or add the files to your own library and use them individually as needed. Which, quite honestly, beats my “one folder/one blend file” organization hands down.
All this poking around has shown me some good ways to improve my project organization and make it easier to not only complete my next project with less frustration, but to alos be able to reuse elements later (well, once I get around to organizing all my previous projects into something resembling a useful Library, that is).