File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

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Brooke
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File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by Brooke » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:21 am

Hi,

I'm unsure if this is an actual bug, but it certainly does cause a lot of serious problems and has the potential to destroy workflows, output and personal sanity. :shock:

I recently reset my computer to as if it were new (fresh reset) I have all of my animation workflow set up like a library.
For example on my C drive there is a file named Animation, within that file separate files for Rooms, Characters, Character textures, Episodes etc etc.

I have done a lot and I mean a lot of work. I made sure that when I reset my Computer I gave the PC and my account the exact same name as it had before. (So the conflict is not from there).

On my newly rebooted computer I transferred a copy of all of my animation files onto the same drive (c:) and the files retained their names and order etc. I then reinstalled ASP 11 and then the update (11.1)

Now here is the awful part , the part that has caused me nausea and the impact of which I am only now beining to feel. When opening a document....All of my file paths..... literally every single reference or object that is not a vector, even any audio - I have to manually find and redo. And I mean every file!!!!

I made good use of the reference feature, something that I thought was an amazing addition to ASP in many of my scenes - This has become my greatest enemy. Even when I have updated the original separate source file it cannot be update in later documents via reference update > it can find no path, and attempting to reload it causes AS11 to crash.

I am assuming that this can happen to anyone > say for example someone wants to transfer all of their files from a desktop to the same labelled drive their laptop that is also running ASP 11 the same thing would happen. Or even just buying a new computer and wanting to work on that. Basically non of the files you create are transferable......

WHY OH WHY Would Smith Micro do this?????? Imagine if photoshop did this with every element you put into one document that got saved.

The extent to which this will affect me - I am literally having a panic attack. Has this got something to do with the new compressed way that ASP saves files.

PLEASE SMITH MICRO FIX THIS !! Basically it doesnt matter how much you backup your projects. ASP 11 will not recognise any file paths if you have a fresh install, or transfer your files from one computer to another..... Sorry that is ridiculous.

PS. I also tried un installing ASP 11.1 and just reinstalling ASP 11 and then opening the files, the exact same outcome occurred. I am at a loss as to why this has happened especially when my computer will still have the same windows operating system key, and computer name / account as it had previously. All the file paths should have been easy to follow. I had to reinstall numerous softwares and not one other has reacted like this to files it has had to open.

Can someone PLEASE pass this onto Smith Micro. I am unsure if it is something they could rectify for me, but I can honestly say I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through this. It is painstaking to try and resolve manually...

Do you think if I personally contact them they could do something to help me with this, as this is really affecting my workflow. I'm worried that almost 3 years of work has gone up in smoke.

Many thanks
Brooke
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funksmaname
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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by funksmaname » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:59 am

What you might want to try (BACKUP YOUR ASP FILES!) is doing a find and replace on all files at the same time (find old path, replace new path) - I know a free notepad program called notepad++ can do this. https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
AS files are text based so all the referenced paths should be there and accessible I would imagine.

Good luck! :)
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synthsin75
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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by synthsin75 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:27 am

This is why the Gather Media command exists. If you don't want to sort out which assets go with which AS file, you might try dumping all the assets and AS files into one folder. I believe AS will first look in the files own location for missing assets.

Also, when you reset a PC, I think it renames your old user files to back them up. You may have to make sure the assets are in the new user folders.
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Brooke
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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by Brooke » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:36 pm

Firstly thank you Funksmaname and synthsin75 for your feedback.

Unfortunately I was not able to open up my document in any editor to examine my file paths due to the new compression method that ASP 11 uses on saved files.

However, I did manage to fix my problem :D :D :D I am so happy.

I am very meticulous with the order of all of my files
It was to do with the renaming of the computer, one letter had been omitted from my renaming of the computer.
So for example if my computer was originally called Sams, when I rebooted and renamed my computer I had named it Sam.

To rectify this, for the second time I had to do a fresh windows install that resets my computer to brand new. (ie every program and personal data wiped)

I did manage to email and obtain a response from a Smith Micro representative. They also tried to help but their suggestions did not rectify the problem.

Personally this has highlighted a huge concern to me with regards to transferring files from one computer to another. I was unaware of the gather media option, but personally I prefer my own system as the gather media becomes bulky for multiple scenes etc and not as streamlined as my own method.

I feel that this is something that Smith Micro should really look into. I know I wont be the first or last person to experience this. Especially as even in the pdf manual it clearly states that you can apply the same approach as I have to your files and they should transfer!! The representative told me they had tried to replicate something similar and it did not happen to them, but I can only assume that they didn't attempt to transfer a project as big, nor one that references references and relies on texture/ audio, images etc not just vectors that are saved within the file itself. And they possibly used a company pc which can share a network so even transferring from one colleagues pc to another would not cause any problems as they would possibly share the same computer name like workgroup or something.

I did intend to make a video if everything went pear shaped. And I am very confident that I could replicate the fault by simply transferring my files in my library structure to another computer/laptop on the c: drive that has ASP 11 installed. After I have caught up with the work I have to make time for I very well might do this.

For the time being this is very alarming. I basically cannot afford for my computer to crash at any point, regardless of how much I back up my files, for all I know it may not just be to do with the name of my computer but it may also rely on the unique windows key assigned to each computer??

To air on the side of caution I will make separate files that gather the media onto a separate hardrive. It will be time consuming and bulky, but this is an important safety measure.

PS. I know you can change your computer name via the settings panel under computer info - but this just did not work. I had to totally clear everything from the system with a windows fresh install.

Sorry this was long :oops:
Brooke
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box
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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by box » Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:29 pm

Hi Booke,
this file path problem has been there forever and this is one reason I prefer to go vector-only, if possible.

However, in former versions the behaviour of AS was: if the links pointed to files inside the file hierarchy the AS file was these links would be relative. If these links pointed outside the file hierarchy, AS would make the links absolute, i.e. saving the full path, creating all those potential problems, e.g. handing data to co-workers. The important thing was, AS started to switch to absolute links the moment you placed your first reference to an outside file. You could check this easily before v11 since all the data was written in plain text… and back then, you were able to change these paths all at once with a good text editor.

Anyway, I did not test it, but if AS still behaves that way, the best way to avoid problems would be to place ALL assets inside sub-folders in the same root folder as the .anime files. This may not be your preferred way to organise things, but you could give it a try.
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Greenlaw
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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by Greenlaw » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:18 pm

I agree. I've actually mentioned this a few times before but having an absolute path to the project folder is a flaw in the program.

It's okay if you're never, ever going to move the data to another location, but in my case I often need to sync data from our studio server to a folder on a mobile computer and, unless I'm using the exact same driver letter and file structure, the paths to content can break. This can be a disaster if images are carefully organized based on themes and usage within the project.

Using Gather only works if you don't ever intend to sync the files back to their original locations.

In most professional studio environment I've worked at, this system would be unacceptable. Dumping all the files into a single directory is simply chaotic for a large scale production at a studio with a crew of animators. Most other professional animation programs allow you to set a relative path to the project folder so the path structure is maintained regardless of the drive letter or wherever the project is synced or moved to.

I hope this can be addressed in a future release. It's a much needed feature if ASP is seeking to be used at more production facilities.

G.
D.R. Greenlaw
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Lead Digital Animator, Dreamworks Animation

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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by box » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:45 pm

@greenlaw: regarding professional studio environment, even Toonboom Harmony, which I would consider THE Tool for a professional environment, stores absolute file paths, at least in the standalone version. And it can't even correctly map the different paths that MacOS and Windows use so that for the current project, I have to work on a Windows Machine. Arrr!

And even Premiere gets confused if I try to access linked files on another machine where the NAS is mapped to Z: instead of T:.

So, absolute Links everywhere. Just that AE and Premiere are clever enough to find 199 missing files if you point to the right path once.
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Greenlaw
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Re: File Paths - Massive flaw - WARNING TO ALL!!!

Post by Greenlaw » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:49 pm

box wrote:@greenlaw: regarding professional studio environment, even Toonboom Harmony, which I would consider THE Tool for a professional environment, stores absolute file paths, at least in the standalone version. And it can't even correctly map the different paths that MacOS and Windows use so that for the current project, I have to work on a Windows Machine. Arrr!
Yes, I know, but I wasn't comparing the system to Harmony. We also use Harmony where I work and in my home studio, and I agree this is one of the program's weaknesses.

The programs I'm referring to are generally 3D and compositing programs we use that let you set a Project path, and they optionally allow you to define nested paths for specific content subdirectories (images, objects, cache, etc.,...). When you do this, the drive letter becomes irrelevant because path is relative to the project and not the scene file, so the software can always fine the linked content wherever you move it.

With Absolute paths, moving and re-linking a large project with hundreds of scenes becomes a tedious nightmare to manage if the new location doesn't share the same exact drive letter and folder hierarchy, which isn't always possible or desirable. In my personal situation, I'm moving projects between a server and a mobile device often and I currently have to manage this by using a VHD with the same drive letter to mirror our network server, but this causes problems when I want to use the render farm because now I have a conflict between the VHD and the network directory.

It's a bit of hassle to keep changing the drive letter for the VHD after resyncing my local data to the network just so I can put the mobile computer on the render farm, and ASP is the only program for which I've had to create this unusual setup.

I don't have these problems with other programs I use because I can simply point the software to the new project location from within the software, and the software never needs to be redirected to 'missing' scene content for any of the contained scene files. Under this system, when the project is moved to a different directory or to a server with a different drive letter doesn't matter so long as the software is pointed to the new Project path.

G.
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
Lead Digital Animator, Dreamworks Animation

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