Can anyone provide a concrete / utilitarian explanation around Actions in Blender, or a best practice workflow? For reference, my ultimate use case is exporting this model as an FBX for usage in Unity.

For context, I am working on a humanoid character that I've modeled & rigged myself. When I am adding animations, my workflow is as follows:

  1. In the Dope Sheet -> Action Editor, create a new Action, typically using the little copy button with an existing action most closely matching what I want to make.

  2. Adjust the bones in the pose editor as desired.

  3. Repeat as desired for new Animations.

However, as part of this, I run into a variety of problems:

  • My new animations sometimes don't export into my FBX. I've done the process above 3 times today, and 2 out of 3 weren't present in export, while one was.
  • Animations vanish from my Blender file entirely! More than once after closing and re-opening blender, I will lose an action entirely. I've had to append from backups or redo the work entirely.
  • Sometimes the actions are randomly parented to random child meshes in my blend file. I think a piece of my character's neck is still somehow the "owner" of my Run animation??

In researching this (on this site and others, including the official documentation), I've come across some key terms/contextual actions: Users, Fake Users, Push Down, NLA Tracks, and the Action Stash.

I have a very vague idea from what all of these do, but I have no idea how to properly use them. It seems like "Push Down" makes my animation save, but is that good? Bad?

Here is a sample of my setup. I have no idea what most of this means. Apparently "Idle" has a fake user? I'm sure I clicked that at some point, but I don't know if it is making a difference! My actions

I think the core of my question is this: What process should I execute to create, permanently save, and always export an action?


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