Shot Manager

https://twitter.com/OTrealms

Version:0.7.3

Getting Started

Shot Manager is an add-on for Blender 2.8 and above. Created as a tool by myself Pablo TochezA. [contact@pablotochez.com] in order to assist in the organization of complex files containing multiple shots, view layers and cameras. I am an artist with some coding knowledge for making time saving tools and digital artworks. Shot Manager should be installed like any .zip add-on [Blender 2.8 Install Add-ons 00:38-https://youtu.be/14G_YIVdBd0?t=38]. Make sure you remove any previously installed versions first. You will not loose shot data un-installing the addon/ This documentation is intended for the paid version available on Blender Market, however features included in the lite version are included.

Version 0.7 and above do not support versions of Blender below 2.90.

Main vs List

The ‘Main’ shot is intended for general editing and previewing and is not considered for batch rendering or exporting. Settings can be copied to and from the Main shot and Shot List. ‘List’ shot defaults are inherited from the Main shot.

Creating A Shot

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The main interface is found in the Properties panel under the Output tab.

  • Enable. The first tick box will toggle the affect of Shot Manager on you scene. Un-tick if you need to turn off its influence, particularly if rendering alternative frame ranges or View Layers.
  • Root Folder will be the starting directory for shots.
  • Use Suffix Add the shot’s suffix to the shot’s filepath.
  • Main/List Select the shot type. Main is for general editing and not bound to shot data however some shot properties are inherited from the Main if not set. To activate a shot simply select it in the list. Shot names are appended onto this path in subfolders.
  • Add new , adds a new shot to your list.
  • Duplicate , Duplicate active shot.
  • Index, An alternative way of defining the active shot.
  • Queue All/None Toggle to add all shots to output/render queue.
  • Invert Queue Toggle Invert the enabled shots.
  • Enable/Queue Shot The Tick Box on the Left of your shot name will add it to the output/render queue.
  • Arrows Up and Down will sort your shots, but ultimately have no affect on your project.
  • Camera Select Select the camera if it has been defined in its properties.
  • Colour Set Assign a colour tag to the shot for filtering.
  • Click ‘X’ to delete the shot.

Filtering

Shots can be filtered from the list by keyword or by colour set. Colour sets can be assigne on each shot withing the list panel and filetered in the dropdown below the list(properties panel) or above in the quick panel. Filtering does not affect the render queue and is only for visibility.

Still Mode

For rendering single frames. Works with batch render. Uses an alternative frame to the normal start and end parameters. Will output from all available output nodes.

Generate View Layers Mode

This mode enables settings; Switch to Primary Layer, Generate Primary Layers and Unsaved View Layers Default to ‘Primary Layer’. The workflow is designed for users who wish to create unique View Layers with each shot, so as to have different collection visible. This workflow is most commonly used in product rendering and visualisation. The newly created view layer will be set as the layer’s Primary layer. The prmimary layer in combination with the other settings mentioned, will become the active View Layer and default as renderable when the shot is selected. It is therefore not neccessary to alter the View Layer save/render states for the shot.

Shot data

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Each shot contains its own data set that may include any of the following:

  • Start Frame
  • End Frame

Properties

  • Shot Name, A unique name for your shot, this will also be an output sub-directory and filename for the shot.(Best practice is to avoid spaces)
  • Use Suffix Add a suffix to the shot’s filepath.
  • Notes, for shot descriptions.
  • Camera object, automatically set as render camera when shot is selected. Arrow button, select as active object.
  • Render Engine, set render engine for specifiaclly for the shot, now supports addon engines.
  • Render Samples, If using Render Engine override. Override samples, 0 = no overide.
  • World , World data, inherits from Main if empty.
  • Primary Layer, select a View Layer that will become activated when selecting the shot if ‘Switch to Primary’ is enabled in settings. Also used as a default render layer if ‘Unpinned default’ is set to ‘Primary Only’ (View layer tab).
  • Transparent Background, set film transparency for the shot.
  • Overide Resolution , shot specific output resolution.
  • Bloom, Eevee only.

View Layers

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  • Primary Layer, select a View Layer that will become activated when selecting the shot if ‘Switch to Primary’ is enabled in settings.

View layers pinned states include ;unpinned/not renderable ,unpinned/renderable,pinned/renderable, pinned/unrenderable.

  • Unpinned default, See Settings > View Layer Default.
  • Un/Pin All Save or unpin all view layer states.
  • Enabled and Primary Only Only displays the renderable view layers for the active shot.

‘AB’ icon means: Rename the Primary Layer to match the shot’s name. ** Link** icon indicates the the view layer is the shot’s primary layer and can be clicked to reassign the layer. ‘Broken Link’ icon means: the shot has an identical name to this View Layer, set as Primary.

Material Overrides

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  • Material Overrides, toggle use of collection overrides.

Ensure that the Collection Overrides property is enabled. Only first level view layer collections are available not the scene collection or child collcetions. Material overrides are available per collection, per shot. Add and override and select collection, then add a material and slot. Override data is stored in the collections not shots, therefore can’t be exported as a Json file or copied from another shot. Also editable in the Collections Inspector Node including overrides for all shots. Using overrides may be slower when switching shots and there are large amounts of collections and objects. Note: If using multple scenes and collections are linked, some unexpected overrides can occur if the scenes have shot names that are identical.

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Restore The orginal material can be restored using the revert button found in the objects material tab. Useful if an object has been moved out of a collection and you want to restore its pre-override material.

Settings

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  • Switch to Primary, make primary layer the active view layer when choosing shots.
  • Generate Primary Layers, a new View Layer will be created with the name of the newly made shot and associated as a Primary Layer
  • Keep in range, view timeline to playhead when choosing shots.
  • Jump to First Frame, place playhead at start of frame range when choosing shots.
  • View layer default, (On, Off, Primary Layer and None). The default state of View Layers if they have no saved state for the active shot. ‘On’ will make all unsaved layers renderable by default with each shot change/trigger. ‘Off’ will default to un-renderable, choose ‘Off’ to prevent unsaved view layers from rendering.’Primary Layer’ will also switch all unsaved layers to un-renderable, except for the Shot’s Primary Layer. ‘None’ leaves the current states, no influence form the add-on.
  • Seperator , a custom seperator to add between filenames and frame suffix, default is ‘_’
  • Path Type , Absolute or relative output path creation.

Data

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Export JSON, Export shot data to json to backup or transfer shots. Does not include collection overrides. Include Shot Manager Settings, include settings from settings panel.

Import JSON,Import shot data from a saved json file. Missing linked frame markers will be converted to manual frame ranges.

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Ignore existing to only import shots with names that don’t match your scenes existing shots. Delete All Shots, will clear all your saved shots.

Output

Export As Files

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Only queued shots will be exported. Export formats currently include fbx, obj, abc(Alembic), usd(Universal Scene Description), dae(Collada), .blend as well as .bat(Windows) files for command line rendering, either as separate files or single batch file. Batch export only uses the active scene’s queued shots and does not support shots from external Blend files.

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Choose output format and setting in the directory window. The settings panel appears on the left in Blender 2.80.

FBX exporter does not use the FBX export/import addon but rather a modified export script.

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Embedded shots can store frame ranges and shot names as animation layers and extracted in other software,ie Unity.

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Render Queue

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  • Temp Path The directory that will store temporary job files for the intergrations/ submitters. Click trash can to clear files recognised by Shot Manager.
  • Add Scene/Add Blend Either add scene’s and their associated shotlists from the open project or another external Blend file via json. Local shots will be automatically linked so any changes will be reflected in the queue.
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External Scenes can be filtered by listing names to include.

  • Reload External Scenes External shots must be reloaded to refect any updates to the shotlist and frame ranges. Only already loaded scenes will be included and any shotlist overrides will be reset.

SM Batch Render

Shots can be rendered using the regular render animations or still operators (ctr+F12/F12). However only the active shot will be rendered. To batch render simply use ctr+shift+F12 or use the ‘Render Queued Shots’ Button. This will perform a background render thread for each shot sequentially in the render queue. For single machine rendering. TIP: If RAM is an issue, make an empty Scene as the master scene for queueing and rendering.

Deadline 10.0+ Integration (Windows)

Thinkbox Deadline is a distributed rendering and management software. Shot Manager provides a custom plug-in for Deadline and submitter within Blender.

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The Deadline Repository must be installed on a shared location. The Deadline render Client must be installed on all machines. Simply click Install Integration in the Deadline subpanel to install the plugin. This will transfer required files to the repository>custom>plugins folder.

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Submitting a Shot All enabled shots for enabled scenes in the render list will be submitted. Ensure that the Temp Path is not empty and set to the desired location. This does not need to be a shared directory.

  • Queue Name The folder name for containing job files, using unique names avoids overwriting older submissions.
  • Initial Status Determines the initial status for jobs. Active will start rendering immediately.
  • Department Extra info visible in Monitor.
  • Machine Limit Limit the number of machines dedicated to the submitted jobs.
  • Priotity Determines the order in which renders will execute. Lower values indicate higher priority in the job list.
  • Chunk Size The number of frames to render per task. Less means more sharing across render nodes. Use higher values for simulations and larger files with long build times
  • Start Job Delay Specifies the time, in minutes, a Slave has to start a render job before it times out.
  • Auto Time-Out Automatically figure out if it has been rendering too long based on some Repository Configuration settings and the render times of previously completed tasks.
  • Force Sequential Forces a slave to render the tasks of a job in order. If an earlier task is ever requeued, the slave won’t go back to that task until it has finished the remaining tasks in order.
  • Submit Files Make a copy of the Blend file accessible for all render nodes. The Blend file is therefore not required to be in a shared location however all dependencies such as textures must be accessible and should be given absolute filepaths. Large projects can may require frequent house keeping.

Choosing Blender Version This is configure in Deadline Monitor > Tools > Configure Plugins. You must enable Super User Modes to access these settings.

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B-Renderon! Integration

Launch B-Renderon with shots loaded as seperate blend files. Requires B-renderon v2.2 or above. The executable path for B-renderon must first be entered in Blender Preferences -> add-ons -> Shot Manager settings Force Cycles Device to ensure the correct CPU/GPU configuration is applied to renders, assuming the submission maching is or is identical to the render machine.

Compositor Nodes

Shot List Node

IMPORTANT! for compositor nodes to have any effect, compositor ‘Use Nodes’ must be enabled. Node groups containing Shot Manager nodes are currently unsupported.

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The Shot List node is central to the Shot Manager nodes and is required for Constructor nodes and Multi-Switches. A maximum of one shot list node should exist.

Path: The displayed path is the projects output directory. The target folder and filenames are automatically named after the active shot. File paths are converted to absolute paths. If the Constructor nodes aren’t connected to the Path Format socket, the path consists of; Root directory + shot name(folder)+ shot name + ‘_’(filename). However the scene render path in Blender’s output settings will vary when ‘Separate Layers’ is active.

Multi-Switch will create a new node group dynamically linked to active shots. Primary-Switch will create a new Render Layer node which automatically switches the input View Layer to the active Shot’s Primary Layer, else mute. Refresh, non-essential node update. Although shot Manager nodes are updated upon shot change, setting or property changes, changes outside of Shot Manager won’t be reflected immediately. For example adding new light passes to a View Layer. Shot Manager will update before any rendering.

Sync Output Paths. Only Available if Separate Layers is disabled. Output nodes created by the user are updated so their base path matches the output path set by the Shot List node and the active shot.

Shot List and saved states. Here you can select and queue shots for bath export. Each shot displays the saved states for View Layers. These states can be toggled (renderable/non-renderable), removed or added.

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Path Format. String input socket for path ‘Constuctor’ nodes.

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Separate View Layers Automatically generate noes to output view layers for external compositing. NOTE: nodes are generated upon any update made within the add-on, therefore generated nodes should not be directly edited. Output files will be named according to the layer name. You May want to delete the Composite node when seperating layers.

Separate Passes Optionally separate view layer light passes. Shot Name in Prefix (non-EXR MultiLayer) if using Seperarate View Layers, the option to add the shot names into the output file pre-fix is available.

Preview Make the output group an 8bit png for preview renders.

Exclude/Include passes from being output, not case sensitive. Pass names should be seperated by commas.

EXR MultiLayer output

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When using “Separate Passes”, Output Groups add and define output file names. Filter Render Passes using exclusion keywords separated by commas, no spaces, not case-senisitve. Including filename options ‘Shot Name’ and ‘View Layer’ name will be added to the given filename.

Path Constructor Node

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Use Path Contructor Nodes to create you own render path format, followed by the shot name. Connect to the Shot List ‘Path Format’ socket. Options;

  • Root Folder, the same folder set in the main panel. Must only be used as the first linked node.
  • .Blend File, add the Blender filename to the path. Useful for iterations.
  • Scene, scene name
  • Shot Name
  • Camera, render camera name
  • Custom, enter a custom name.(Best practice is to avoid spaces)
  • Output Node, uses the custom name of the output node, useful for exporting EXR’s without overiding the default output/composite (which will use the custom ‘main output text’), or to avoid duplicate filenames when using multiple output nodes.

Collections Inspector Node

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An alternative interface for overseeing and modifying collection states per View Layer. This aims to bring back the kind of oversight possible in Blender 2.7 where layer visibility, holdout and indirect states were layed out in view layer settings. It can also be used to keep track of very complex scenes with many nested collections. Setting the View Layer to ‘Active View’ will use the currently active view layer. Changing the view layer in the drop down menu will not change your currently active view layer. This can be quicker in large scenes to avoid loading objects.

Output Viewer Node

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Use to count matching output files in all output paths. If a folder or file is detected you may click the folder icon to open the directory in your OS explorer or click the image icon to load it in an open Blender Image Editor. Files are counted after rendering or when the refresh button is clicked.

Multi-Switch

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The Multi-Switch is a handy node group that generates inputs per shot. The active input is connected internally depending on the active shot. This allows the user to have multiple node graphs pointing to the Composite Node and only render the relevant one to the active shot. Do not modify this node’s name, group name or internal nodes. Requires a Shotlist Node

Known Issues

Pandora Submitter. ‘Cannot read json file’ error may occur, has no impact on the render.

Missing file explorer options . This can occur when going between versions of Blender. SOLUTION- Restart Blender , disable ‘Load UI’ first when opening.

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