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Maya still extremely slow for character animation

Message 1 of 26
3974 Views, 25 Replies

Maya still extremely slow for character animation

Hi,  I've used Maya for many years, going through many versions and new hardware.
After all this time I still find it extremely slow and lagging for characters animation for any scene with more than one character.  I now have a high spec HPZ840 with plenty of Ram that cost £7500! ($9,600)  and it's still terrible.
Currently I have a scene, with no background at all, and multiple characters referenced in... it's virtually unusable.
Even when other characters are hidden it's still slow.
And  it's not just this scene, as it's been this way for many years on any scenes, all maya versions, and different hardware.
When I see larger studios creating huge scenes with crowds of characters and wonder how the hell they do it?
If I have a high spec £7500 machine and cant even work with three characters and no background what are they using Nasa computers?  probably not Maya anyway.

What should be one hours work is taking me 3 hours,  scrubbing the timeline is like trying to swim through custard whilst wearing armour.

Sometimes I switch to Parallel mode which helps a little, but then setting keys takes ages... then when facial animating I switch to DG mode just to not have to wait 10 secs for every key set... it's just painful and I’m tired of it.  😞 It takes all the joy out of animating.
I’m a die hard Maya fanboy, but after 10 years of unstable slow use, I am seriously considering moving my studio to Blender or other equivalent.
Message 2 of 26
in reply to: mattock

Have you checked the profiler to see where time is being spent? If hiding characters doesn't speed things up, either it's not your rigs taking most of the time, or something is causing them to be evaluated when they're hidden.


You need to be in parallel for performance, the other modes are just for troubleshooting and backwards compatibility. If setting keys takes a long time, check the profiler to see if it tells you what's happening when you do that, or isolate a scene with the issue that you can post here. I've never seen setting a keyframe take any time at all, so it's hard to offer any suggestions without more info...


Message 3 of 26
in reply to: zewt

Are you using maya 2019.2.? 

Message 4 of 26
in reply to: mattock

In the future, Bifrost will change Maya


Message 5 of 26
in reply to: wuhailu

Very off-topic, please don't hijack threads from people looking for help.


Message 6 of 26
in reply to: zewt

He said to use blender, so I said that bifrst, bifrsot can also do animation

Message 7 of 26
in reply to: wuhailu

English is not easy to write wrong

Message 8 of 26
in reply to: zewt

@zewt and @Christoph_Schaedl  thank you for the quick responses, much appreciated.
Let me clarify a few points
>  Animating with one character is fine, two is not good, and three or more is terrible.
>  It's not just this scene, its every scene over the last ten years with every version of Maya from 2009 to latest 2019.2 on different systems
I have to playblast to see any animation, as scrubbing the timeline is so bad, this is just unusable.
On top of the slow performance every version has been unstable and crashing regularly, and using references always breaks something, loses materials etc.
I was hoping after all this time, and some really powerful hardware it would get better but it doesn't.
Sorry just feeling disheartened and worn down with Maya now.

I wish they would just re-code the basics without adding any new features and get that working first.
Thank you for your time.
Message 9 of 26
in reply to: mattock

The new animation chaching should take care of that. They worked around three years in the background on that feature. If its not working fir you post some examples where its failing.


And there is a lot new in the pipe. 

Make sure to register this presentation

Message 10 of 26
in reply to: Christoph_Schaedl

Animation caching lets you preview heavier rigging systems and helps if you have a lot of stuff in a scene, but you still want to profile your rigs and build them efficiently.  You shouldn't always need to use animation cache.


@mattock: If you're turning off parallel evaluation then you're essentially turning off all performance, and if setting a keyframe is slow then you have a specific problem that can be tracked down.  I gave a couple suggestions above, let me know what you find.


Message 11 of 26
in reply to: zewt

Thanks again.

Animation caching caused lots of other problems when we tried it.  Even on simpler scenes, simpler characters etc, we wondered what was going on, turned it off and it was ok again.. feels like it wasn't even tested before released.


I am working in Parallel evaluation mode, The only time I switch to DG is for a few facial animations as it was performing much better, but everything else is in parallel.


I don't have much experience with the profiler, but it does seem to show it's the rigs, but it would do as that is the only things in the scene.  But as mentioned I've always had issues with slow performance on scenes with multiple characters for many many years.

I have used Advanced Skeleton for years to rig most characters and it's been fantastic.
Really appreciate your time and speedy responses.

Message 12 of 26
in reply to: mattock

I totally agree, how is it that a program like Unity can have the same character with the same deformations and run at ~75 frames per second?  How can it do that while also rendering a full scene with background, dynamic lighting, high antialiasing, reflections, all of the texture maps at high resolution and post processing effects?  Oh and all the other behavioral programming going on in the background in an interactive scene with millions of polygons and maya is putting that single character out at like 15 frames per second with nothing else going on in the scene?  Obviously Autodesk is not doing a very good job of doing what is perhaps the most importing thing in animation.... real time animation.  In order to get real time animation in Maya you need to do a low poly proxy mesh and animate a lifeless jumble of stiff shapes.  And its been like this for forever, FOREVER!  Totally unacceptable WTF Autodesk?

I'm with you @mattock, Blender looks better every day.

Seth Meshko
3D Artist
Message 13 of 26

In Unity you dont claculate the rig to interact with. Its just the skeleton.


Use the anim caching thats more in the direction of what game engines are doing plus you can animate. 


If its failing post the rig here. 

Message 14 of 26

@Christoph_Schaedl,  That is not correct, Unity absolutely has IK functionality, dynamics, blendshapes and other potential deformers.  So no your comparison of Maya's slow performance in relation to Unity's based on calculating the rig doesn't sell.  AND as I said, Unity is doing a whole lot of other stuff both on the CPU and GPU while still maintaining high frame rate. 

Apart from that, realtime calculation of complex rigs is Maya's purview.  Maya should be every bit as good at realtime playback with fully intact rigs as Unity is with all that it has going on.  Lets examine some facts, maya works faster in parallel processing but it's unstable in parallel mode.  And let's not forget parallel processing in Maya is a relatively new thing.  Autodesk was from the start and remains woefully behind the curve on that.  Maya clearly doesn't do a very good job of taking advantage of those extra processors even after several years of development.  Maya is incapable of realtime playback on fully rigged characters.  This is a fact.  As artists we have to admit when we are failing if we are ever to get better.  Autodesk should do the same.

Seth Meshko
3D Artist
Message 15 of 26

All that ranting doesnt help to make maya faster. Profile your scene and show your results. Provide crashing or failing scenes.


Autodesk is working on making maya faster. If its not enough for you. You should search for an other solution. 



Message 16 of 26

@Christoph_Schaedl how flip of you "moderator".  It's not ranting, it was a direct rebuttal to your (sorry, but) uninformed opinion that Maya and Unity are not doing similar work and therefore should not be held to the same standard of playback speed.  Further, if Autodesk cares about its customer satisfaction then drawing attention to these issues sure should make Maya faster.



Seth Meshko
3D Artist
Message 17 of 26

Making Maya faster is the main priority the last three years. 

The interaml workings of a Game engine arnt the same as the of a DCC. Even if they look the same.

The maya developers know what they are doing.


Im not an Autodesk employee i have just the ability to move posts around in the forum. 

Message 18 of 26
in reply to: lemonyfreshness



A content creation tool like Maya is of course not the same as a Game Engine like Unity.

You can't compare this, even if there are some features that may overlap.


To make the execution of some tasks possible is not as easy to implement as you might think and for some tasks it's even impossible. Otherwise all games would run on all CPU cores.

However as EM "Parallel" was introduced many years ago and is the default mode in Maya there should never be the need to switch back to "DG" mode.


I did a very quick test and was able to play back a scene with 5 animated characters in Maya with EM "Parallel" at 90 fps, so Maya can't be slow in general for character animation.

Message 19 of 26
in reply to: mspeer

@mspeer You absolutely can compare them because they use the same system resources, the same math, the same sorts of shaders, the same sorts of dynamics, the same sorts of rigging, the same sorts of programming and on and on and on.  No they are not the exact same thing but in terms of performance they share much more of the same structure than not.  Just out of curiosity, what exactly is your experience with Unity that you feel you can make such an authoritative statement?  In fact I don't see anything on your profile that points to any work at all...  Seems that somebody who wanted to weigh in on such a discussion would want to have something to back it up, no?  I'd love to see your work, make me eat my words...

Seth Meshko
3D Artist
Message 20 of 26
in reply to: lemonyfreshness

Hi, original poster here, it wasn't my intention to cause any arguments!
I Just wanted to politely express my growing frustration and disappointment build up over many years.


That's great yours is working faster now, can you tell me what was done to increase performance of lemonfreshness rig or setup please. 

Did all 5 characters have keyframes set on all curves and facial rigs?
I get approx 3 to 5 FPS in Parallel.

But as I’ve mentioned a few times, its not just a problem with this scene, its been many scenes with different setups over the years.

And also the instability constant crashing I've experienced since starting with Maya a long time ago.

Many thanks 

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