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Animating a group actor?

Ok, so full disclosure, I am very frustrated with the way this program works… it is as if the folks at Epic looked at the way every animation program ever made works, and said… toss it, let’s do it in a completely different way to make it as counter intuitive as possible…

Now that I have that off my chest…

I am trying to do a simple animation of a plane buzzing the camera in a cinematic sequence. Ordinarily, I would have all of the pieces of the plane grouped together with a null object, and would perform primary animations on said null, with secondary animations (flaps, etc) done to said individual objects.

So, here in my level, I have all of my plane pieces, emitters, and so forth grouped together with a group actor. When I place a key frame on the group’s position, move ahead on the timeline, reposition the group and set another keyframe, it appears to work, but then when scrubbing, only the group’s pivot actually moves, and the geometry its supposed to control simply stays put.

What possible use case would ever require something like that? It’s ridiculous to say the least… something so basic needn’t be so complicated.

So… what do I need to actually do here to make this work the way it should? How can I animate this plane flying around as one piece?

Sorry for the tone, but I have been modeling and animating for more than 15 years, and I can typically at least suss out basic functions in any program I am put in front of, so this level of wall-hitting on such basic stuff is just getting me worked up.

I appreciate any and all help.

​​​​​​​ - Willie

Update… I dug around some more and opted to try a different approach. I ungrouped the plane objects, and instead, created an empty actor, zeroed it out to the plane’s fuselage, and proceeded to ‘attach’ all of the geo and emitters and what not to said empty actor. Seemed to work just fine, so I saved the project and everything went south, the geo rotated, emitters stayed where they were, and the empty actor was now situated under somewhere over the plane’s left wing. I can’t undo back to where I was because undos get wiped out after a save, so now my scene is effectively ruined.

AHHHHHHHHHH!!! wtf??!?!?!?!?!?

Update… after manually resetting every thing in my scene, and reattaching to the empty actor, I was able to successfully make an animation of my plane… or so I thought. It plays great via the sequencer in my edit view through the camera preview window, but when I go to actually export it as an image sequence, all hell breaks loose.

The only things that move in the export are the emitters I am using for the afterburners and the contrails coming off the wings, and the point lights used to illuminate the plane. The plane itself just sits there… still, and then toward the end, the camera switches to what appears to be somewhere in the middle of my geometry for no apparent reason (there are no keyframes on the camera, and only the one camera active in the sequence).

I do get a message log after export which states (once for every piece of geometry in my model) "! AttachTo:’/Game/LEVELS/UEDPIE_0_F22_1.F22_1:PersistentLevel.PlaneCtrl.DefaultSceneRoot’is not static, cannot attach’/Game/LEVELS/UEDPIE_0_F22_1.F22_1:PersistentLevel.Fuselage.StaticMeshComponent0’which is static to it. Aborting.

My take away from this is that the empty actor object (Plane Ctrl) cannot have the static mesh geometry attached to it for whatever reason. It seems to me that if I can play it back in the editor without issue, then taking those frames I see and simply exporting them out to an image sequence should be a fairly straightforward process, but apparently it is not.

Now, why in the hell the developers at Epic saw fit to allow something which will NOT work appear to work perfectly is beyond me. It seems that if this program is incapable of exporting an image as seen in the editor, then it shouldn’t work in the editor either. TBH, to have this serious of a lack in parity is inexcusable, but I can’t change the system, so I have to figure out how to work within it.

This leads me back to my original problem… I just need to animate the plane and export a sequence. Group Actors can’t do it, Empty Actors can’t do it (making both things effectively pointless to even have in the first place), so, what the hell am I to do? The only thing I can think of at this point is possibly attaching everything to a piece of the plane geo itself (though this is a horrible way to work from an organizational standpoint). I only hope that all this animation I made for the empty actor can be copied over easily, which at this point I cannot assume that it can be considering how counter intuitive this whole process has been to this point.

And of course even if that works, I have to figure out why the camera view switches without any apparent reason.

sigh…

Sorry again for how I know my rant must sound… I am just extremely frustrated with things that in my experience have always been straight forward suddenly being anything but. When I am in a new program, I expect to struggle with high-level stuff early on, but not the low-hanging fruit (simple animations, sequence exports, etc).

Update - as I needed to get something to my client today, I ended up setting the main viewer in UE to Cinematic Mode, went Immersive and recorded a screen capture. Hacky as hell workaround, and definitely NOT the long term solution, but it’s adequate for the moment. I would still appreciate if someone could clue me in as to what I actually need to do to get parity between preview and output.

Thanks

First of all I would say the most terrible thing here is that no one cared to answer, not a single EPIC staff member, yet this ought to be official UE forum, right? Bah…I have exactly same problem now - October 2020 - with UE4 v4.25,3!

Now, I am not sure if you are talking about the same problem I had some time before, but if you are saying that you do not see the exact sequence you see in you sequencer preview once rendered (in your case: image sequence output), then all you have to do is to add Camera Cuts to your sequencer - and that was it for me, suddenly, my exported video is exactly the same what i see in my sequencer preview window. Before that it was just static camera from some strange angle, no movement, nothing.