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When I set simulations(tried smoke, rigid body, hair dynamics, and cloth so far) to start at negative frames, I always get this message above the bake buttons:

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There's also a gap in the bar on the timeline at frame 0, which I assume is the cause of it:

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Would it be better to start simulations on frame 1 and offset the rest of the keyframes instead? Or is there a way to get blender to bake frame 0? Or should I just ignore that message?

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You could answer the question if you should "just ignore that message" by yourself: Does the simulation / render looks as expected or at least is the result good enough for what you're looking for? Then ignore the message.

Apart from that, the Blender Reference Manual says the following about baking in frame ranges and offsets (this is in the Fluid section, not general), which suggests baking from frame 1 on and use the offset afterwards:

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm asking because simulations are so glitchy, sometimes its hard to tell whats causing what. Right now I have a rigid body that is literally colliding into nothing because the baked cache didn't clear properly, and deleting the cache files manually didn't help. $\endgroup$ – Mark C Mar 4 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ If you suspecct that this behaviour might be related to your negative frame bake, have you simply tried baking the simulation starting at frame 1 to see if it helps? $\endgroup$ – Gordon Brinkmann Mar 4 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yup. Everything was working great, until I decided to scale the collision object a bit. That made it break so I scaled it back down to what it was before, but the rigid body physics continued to break. Tried disabling the collision object altogether, tried disabling everything in the scene except the rigid bodies but it remains the same. When I append the rigid bodies to a new file they work perfectly fine. $\endgroup$ – Mark C Mar 4 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ You scaled the collision object after baking? And you made a new bake afterwards and it was broken? And did you rebake from frame 1 or -20 to see if it makes a difference? I'm not sure what you did there and if the error relates to the negative frames or the scaling... $\endgroup$ – Gordon Brinkmann Mar 4 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ Yup, did all that. Ended up appending everything into a new file and simplifying the rigid body constraint setup a bit and managed to get it to work properly again. Another thing i've noticed is that hair dynamics always needs to be re-baked every time i open the project $\endgroup$ – Mark C Mar 5 at 13:48

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