What else can I try? Sorry for brevity + formatting, cut my hand today and can't type.
Thought I might add some speculation. CA always seems to get upset when media is imported, deleted from project, then deleted from computer? The other day, I deleted some old "Recordings" files from the folder (long since deleted from the project itself), and the entire project became unusable until I renamed empty text files to the names of the files it was looking for. Despite those files being completely empty, the project returned to normal.
Do I do this through File > Export > Puppet (it's greyed out), or is there another way I can share it?
If it’s s project level error, probably need to zip up the project directory structure. You do this from the file system (it’s not a CH feature). Export puppet is to export a single puppet artwork and rigging.
Actually, one thing to try is to flush the cache. I think you hold down ALT (or was it shift?) and click the scene refresh button. That flushes more internal caches. Any easy thing to try.
There were instructions on which directories to include (some can be excluded) but don’t remember off top of head now. Otherwise just zip up the whole project.
"Invalid file start code." suggests a damaged or invalid arf (parameter/performance event recording) file in the project. It could be a bug that caused it. I'd be curious to inspect the project.
The option/alt refresh Alan suggests may make the error go away if the problem is in a compiled arf file created for timeline edits, though if you can send me the project first it might be more interesting diagnosis-wise.
!!! When you explained that the arf files were related to performance event recordings, I remembered that I had 2 Replays in my project (that I originally used as triggers but deleted later on). Since I deleted the triggers + I wasn't using them anywhere in the project, I thought it would be safe to delete the files in my Recordings folder as well, but obviously that caused the entire project to go catatonic.
I deleted the Replays from my project and everything is working again! Feel silly but lesson learned, no more deleting things that look useless in case CA gets upset with me.
Excellent! Glad that it helped you get your project back to good!
Another tip on a related subject: if you use "Save As" on a project, the generated project will leave behind any unreferenced arf files and media, which can be a good way to clean out and compact it when you get to a good checkpoint.
This is possible because a "Save As" also leaves history behind and only keeps the latest project state whereas a project with history has more recordings that are reachable by going back in time with the history panel, especially with the bookmarks feature, so it keeps them to make sure those older states remain valid.
Ah alright, that's a really great tip + exactly what I needed; I'll try to remember that for next time.
Do you think it is worth suggesting people with misbehaving projects to try ”save as” to see if that fixes the project?