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Multiple objects that are hidden and resources

I've been trying for ages to try and follow tutorials to make myself an animated 3D windsock that turns with the wind and shows different animations according to the wind strength (well, several windsocks with varying animations that only show at a certain wind speed), but I think I'm about ready to give up. I can make a static object that rotates with the wind nicely, but I've tried the tutorial for animated ones a few times and the windsock just doesn't appear in the sim.

The alternative route I think I'm going to go down is just to have different models of the windsock rotated in 12 or 16 angles, and animated to reflect a few different wind strengths, and use CAT to have certain ones show up according to the wind strength and speed - going to take a while, but I just *can't* get the rotating animated object to work..

The thing I was wondering is that even though only one animation of the windsock will be showing, there will be (16 directions X 4 wind speed models = 64 animations in total - will the ones that aren't showing affect things like frame-rates, or is it only one that is currently being rendered that uses resources?

Of course all the addition animations will have a small impact on the performance (bigger MDL size, more memory). But it should not really have a big effect.

How did you create your animations? If they are structured nicely, I might be able to help a bit with the tweaking. I am still looking for a good animated model myself as well (I know the techniques, just don't have a good model to tweak :)).