Mac Mini, i7, 16GB RAM, Intel HD 4000 Good Enough?

Hello Toon Boomers,

Happy New Year to all, hoping someone could shed some light on a query I have.

I have downloaded the Harmony Premium trial with the view to eventually buy and learn how to create 2D cartoons. I just uploaded the Paint Style Cut Out Animation template and it took about 3 or 4 minutes roughly to render this 5 second animation on my Mac Mini i7 16GB RAM with a Intel HD 4000 GPU. Not sure if that is good or bad? It’s not the best machine I know but it runs ZBrush, Unity and Maya pretty well-ish (haven’t done anything heavy with them though and yet I see on the system requirements for TB its says my GPU will produce a slow performance. What would be slow?

Does anyone use an Intel HD 4000 GPU with TB? It supports OpenGL thanks to Metal. Lastly, how long do you think a 6 minute animation would take to render with my GPU? a guesstimate would be greatly appreciated as I’d rather not spend £1000 on a PC if I can help it :slight_smile: Thank you.

Regards,

Steve

It really doesn’t matter whether your hardware runs other software well. Harmony seems to be its own thing. You should rely on Toon Boom’s recommendation. The CPU renders the final animated film. Time to render to video would depend on the complexity of the project. The graphics card is used to produce a visual image as you create the art and animation. So the more capable it is the better performance you will experience when previewing and manipulating the art. The larger and more complicated the project becomes the more demanding it is on the GPU. In addition to the production OpenGL View there is a Render View provided by the GPU that is a real-time preview representing a proximity of what you can expect to see in the final rendered product. Some effects are not adequately displayed or completely invisible in OpenGL View. You need to be able to use Render View. A weak GPU will become very slow at responding and sometimes things just do not work the way they should. I experienced some of this running Animate Pro 3 on a different model of Mac Mini. Mine could not run Harmony. When I upgraded from my Mac Mini there wasn’t a perfect option in Apple’s current lineup and I didn’t like the way they moved to soldered RAM and graphics so I built a Hackintosh. I asked a lot of questions and Toon Boom’s support department was helpful when I was choosing parts. I aimed at Harmony and ended up with something closer to the bullseye than what is currently available from Apple.

How long it will take to render depends on the complexity of the scenes, for instance, if they have heavy effects. Considering your example, you would need between 4,5 and 5 hours to rendering a 6 minute animation with similar complexity of the ‘paint style cut-out’ example (if 5 secs = 4 min rendering, then 360 secs = 288 minutes).

Naturally you should get the best you can buy. If you’re learning, maybe you don’t need to invest on a new computer for now on. Rendering is more important if you’re working professionally on a tight schedule or you need to render a feature film or something. I mean, even if it takes hours to render some heavy scenes, you can leave the computer working while you go out have a coffee or during the night. The most important, I think, it that you can play the scene in real time or near in OpenGL view so that you can animate properly and check your timings.

I don’t know about that GPU performance, but it doesn’t seem to be terrible. In any case, it’s not recommended by Toon Boom, so if you have an issue and contact support they might just suggest you should get another GPU :slight_smile: That, naturally, doesn’t mean you can’t work with it, especially considering that the other specs are good.

Just for a reference, I render that scene in 2 minutes on a Windows desktop.


Luis Canau

Has o0Ampy0o noted, render relies mostly on CPU than on GPU. Some applications rely also on GPU to some extent for rendering - Premiere, for instance -, but I’m not sure it that’s the case with Harmony, probably not. It’s also true that different applications might work better or worse with different hardware, but I would risk saying that if you work OK with Maya you shouldn’t have much problems with Harmony. Try to get or make heavy scenes to test what your system can handle. Use blurs, bitmap brushes, such as watercolour, particles and turbulence.


Luis Canau

Thanks everyone for the swift response. My plan was to keep my Mac Mini and buy a Cintiq 22HD. But I have decided to buy an i7 6700 16GB Nvidia 980 GTX Desktop and a 13HD Wacom Cintiq which works out about the same price. This way I have no concerns about the GPU, CPU and I have a Cintiq :slight_smile: cannot wait to get started with Toon Boom Harmony.
I was looking at CelAction 2D as it seems to be industry standard here in UK and Ireland with many children’s TV shows made with it (Peppa Pig, Sarah and Duck, Puffin Rock, Charlie and Lola etc) but there is no subscription service and when you do buy it, it still has a annual renewal fee.

All well and good if you are a relatively successful animation company but when you are starting out it is not an affordable option. Thank you all again for your comments, all the best. Steve.

CelAction looks good, but Harmony should cover more options and styles of animation, since you can both draw directly and import your assets from third-party software, do traditional, cut-out or mix both techniques.

As I understand it the Cintiq is designated as the main display. You have to consider how small the software and OS interface icons and text are going to be on the 13HD. Apparently you can use an iPad Pro as a secondary display exclusively for the drawing window and use your actual display for the main interface. This was a significant concern of mine when considering the 13HD. I bought a 13HD but returned it without opening it after reconsidering the small size. I would have traded up to the 22HD but it was out of stock. By the time it was restocked I had decided to keep using my Intuos Pro and wait for the 22HD to be upgraded and competitors to catch up to Wacom before investing in a display tablet. More recently I have considered using an iPad Pro with the Pencil. The iPad Pro and 13HD are similar in size and I am comfortable drawing smaller rather than large.
An iPad Pro does not have the relatively large cable sticking out of its side like the 13HD. Aside from using it as a display tablet if I was interested in something that an iPad offered as an iPad I might have bought one by now. I just cannot find anything else to justify purchasing an iPad so that idea is on hold. I would get more use out of a laptop but it doesn’t present an enhancement to my Harmony setup and I don’t need a laptop.

As I understand it the Cintiq is designated as the main display. You have to consider how small the software and OS interface icons and text are going to be on the 13HD. Apparently you can use an iPad Pro as a secondary display exclusively for the drawing window and use your actual display for the main interface. This was a significant concern of mine when considering the 13HD. I bought a 13HD but returned it without opening it after reconsidering the small size. I would have traded up to the 22HD but it was out of stock. By the time it was restocked I had decided to keep using my Intuos Pro and wait for the 22HD to be upgraded and competitors to catch up to Wacom before investing in a display tablet. More recently I have considered using an iPad Pro with the Pencil. The iPad Pro and 13HD are similar in size and I am comfortable drawing smaller rather than large.
An iPad Pro does not have the relatively large cable sticking out of its side like the 13HD. Aside from using it as a display tablet if I was interested in something that an iPad offered as an iPad I might have bought one by now. I just cannot find anything else to justify purchasing an iPad so that idea is on hold. I would get more use out of a laptop but it doesn’t present an enhancement to my Harmony setup and I don’t need a laptop.[/quote]

You read my mind Ampy, after reading all the comments, I will stick to my Mac Mini for the foreseeble future because my CPU is good and I have just recently upgraded the RAM to 16GB. I will get the 22HD because I also have some screen size concerns about the 13HD :slight_smile: thanks

I agree, Harmony just seems to tick all the right boxes and there are tons of tutorials too. Is there any YouTube channels or third party sites other than Lynda and Digital Tutors that you would highly recommend to me? Thanks

Steve

The bigger you can afford is the best, naturally. But you can work with a Cintiq 13" especially if you focus mainly on animating. I’m sure good animation is being done right now around the world on 13" Cintiqs. You can have just your drawing/camera view on the Cintiq and all other Harmony windows on your 24 or 27" screen, including another camera. It’s a matter of finding a balance between your budget and what you require for your work.


Luis Canau

It has been a while since I was shopping for a tablet display. Earlier I suggested that you have to designate the Cintiq as the main display. Back when I was looking I may have established a personal preference to have all of the important things readily available to me rather than having to refer to an adjacent display so much. I believe people prefer to have the Cintiq designated as the main display so they have the OS and software interface readily available to them without having to work the keyboard or off an adjacent display so much when using the buttons. With a smaller display like the 13HD and iPad Pro you would have a hard time seeing things and the interface would take more space away from an already smaller space.

I certainly could work on the smaller size screen if all it contained was the Drawing or Camera windows. If I am going to invest $800-$1200 on a tablet display I would spend $1800 to have all of the important things on the tablet display. I am just a hobbyist. The software and the computer I built to run it are an expensive investment, Although it is more efficient having everything on the same screen, using such valuable pressure sensitive screen real estate for buttons and menus is crazy. I sketch and storyboard using standard sized index cards. When feeling more practical I am content with my Intuos. Of the smaller tablet display options the iPad Pro wins over the Wacom 13HD because it has lovely Apple elegance and a superior display. But the pen lacks the eraser tip exclusive to Wacom if that is important to you.