Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Six Tips to Make Maya Run Faster

Tip Number 6 - stay low poly
One of the most common problems students encounter, especially when working from home, is their Maya scene slowing down so much that they can't animate anymore.

Or, not quite as drastic but almost as frustrating, their scene becomes so slow that animation becomes a burden. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to speed up your scene and make it run faster.  Below are our Six Tips to make Maya work at optimal speed.

Beautiful set - but may slow down your shot
Tip #1 - don't fill up your shot with too much stuff
On a general level, it’s a good idea not to cram your scenes full of too much stuff. This is an aesthetic imperative as well as a practical one.

Scenes crammed full of colourful objects can look cluttered and may distract from the animation. Busy scenes are also very time consuming to render. For this reason, it's often the case that less is more. Heavy geometry will slow down your scene a lot.

Tip #2 - Set your Viewport to DirectX 11
To get started, find the preferences button on the bottom right hand corner of your screen (see below). The logo in Maya looks like an orange running man.

Then, under Display, find Viewport 2.0 and select DirectX 11 from the drop-down menu.

Tip #3 - Set Update View to Active
Still in Preferences, find the Settings tab (see image below), then highlight Time Slider, go to Playback, and make sure the Update view menu is set to "active", not "all".

This makes sure that your computer is only working through one view port at a time, meaning it is doing half the work that it would have to do for two.

Tip #4 - Turn off Motion Blur, Inclusion and Depth of Field
Make sure these three things are turned off. They are your motion blur, your inclusion and your depth of field (see buttons highlighted in red below).

Tip #5 - Hide Your Environment in the Layer Editor
Make sure your set or environment is copied into in a layer in the Layer Editor, which can be turned off and hidden (just like in Photoshop) by toggling it on and off using the V button (V for visibility).  Try to keep your environment simple, and turn it off when you don't need it. 

Sets, especially complex objects like trees, use up a lot of working memory. As animator Kevin Richards explains: "At Clothcat Animation we represented trees with lots of leaves as a simple sphere on top of a cylinder. Later, when we had finished our animation, we imported the high poly set into our scenes and then published our shot to the next department."

Tip #6 - Use the low poly version of your animation rig
Most rigs have hi and low poly versions, you can see an extreme example below. This warrior has a lot of detail which will slow the computer down. We don’t need most of it while we are animating. The low poly version on the right hand side enables us to work quickly without the computer

LHS - high poly. RHS - low poly
Mery: great rig, but high poly, heavy, and slow
On most good animation rigs, there should be an option to go low or high poly in the global control. Tap on it and you should find the option in the channel box. Set it to the lowest poly option to work quickly.

Select the mesh, press 1
You can also try selecting the mesh and then pressing 1 on your keyboard for the low poly mode in Maya.  If there is no low poly version and your rig is running very slow, considering using a different rig.  For example, the Mery rig is excellent, but very heavy and rather slow. 

Many thanks to animator and animation tutor Kevin Richards and Studio Assistant Maciej Osuch for putting together these helpful tips, based on their considerable experience in the animation classroom.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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