What PC part should I upgrade to get better performance?

Toon Boom has been running very very slowly since I set up my first working scene. I have done everything in my power to get it to run faster, but in the end I know it has to be my hardware that’s holding the performance back.

Here are my PC specs;
OS: Windows 10
CPU: Intel core i7-6700k @3.97GHz
RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance @1066MHz
MOBO: MSI Z170A Gaming Pro
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970

What’s the component that I should upgrade first and foremost which would result in the greatest performance boost?
I can only afford to upgrade one component at the moment, so no need to go into any further detail about everything that I should upgrade.

I agree with updating video card driver. If it is a dual card with intel, make sure to force to use high-performance video card when using Toon Boom application.

If none of them helps your performance issue, when does it get slowed down most? On playback or drawing? Does it happen to any scene or specific scene?

It is slowing down because I have so many drawings and effects, from very small to very big. It’s a mildly complex scene and I can understand why it would slow it down, I just don’t know what PC part, if upgraded, would increase the performance the most.

This isn’t a problem with software or missing drivers or anything else along those lines, I apologize for not making my situation a little clearer. It runs fantastic on simple scenes and everything else, but the only way to do stuff in my current scene with minimal lag is to hide every drawing except a few that I’m working on, but I enjoy being able to check how the drawings looks with all the other assets as I modify it instead of having to hide everything else.

The specs listed look great. Except for the hard drive - a SSD will speed up your overall system, but I can’t see why Harmony wouldn’t run fine on your current rig.

What version of Harmony are you running? What kind of scene are you animating? Heavy assets? Does Harmony run slow even with a simple scene?

Is other (animation) software affected - for example, do you have Adobe software installed, and any issues with those?

Hmm those specs are far better than my nearly 7 year old i7-940 workstation, and Harmony runs pretty well on it. I have 24GB of RAM and a GTX 760 with Win10. Maybe check your vid card drivers?

Can you find a good spot to split this scene into more than one piece?

If not, can you change it enough to create a good spot to split it up?

I basically already did that, It’s pretty small it’s just that I have so many trees and I created a wheat field, with each individual wheat being its own drawing with shadows on and behind it and just duplicated the heck out of it to create a field. I’m positive that’s what’s causing the slow down, but I can’t think of a way to flatten the drawings of the wheat together into one drawing because they are all on different z-axis values. I mean it’s gotten so slow i sometimes wait 30 minutes for one action to be processed unless i single out a few drawings.

Why don’t you render out the fields as an image sequence (not too high resolution), and use that rendered sequence as a temporary preview stand-in - when you are ready to render the final comp, remove or hide that preview, and show the real thing.

That is a great idea, but then if i want to modify the wheat field at all it’s very very difficult. I will most likely use the workaround you have suggested, but would still enjoy knowing what part I should upgrade to improve the performance a good bit as I have plans for a future project that is for sure going to be much more demanding than my current project.

Thank you for that idea though

Looking at your current hardware setup, I think the only two components that are “sub-optimal” would be the hard drive and the amount of memory you have. The HDD could be replaced by a good SSD, and 32GB/64GB instead of 16GB gives much more room to play when doing larger animations.

But I wouldn’t expect any magical improved performance. You already have a pretty good system, and the only work-around is the divide-and-conquer approach: work on (singular) parts in Toonboom, render these parts out, and composite in a compositor such as After Effects, Fusion, or Nuke.

Any animation studio will tell you that it is just not possible to have your entire scene with complex effects, 3d, and tons of background material in one animation application, and expect realtime performance - you work on parts, and then composite the entire thing at the end.

As they say: “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. What I proposed is exactly how I work in production: when one animated part becomes too taxing, I render it out, and use it as a stand-in dummy. Software has limits, computers are very quick nowadays, but it is still quite simple to create animated (sub)sequences that will slow down things to a crawl (in particular things like duplicating hundreds of small animated elements).

Btw, have you tried creating the wheat field with a particle effect instead of duplicating manually?

Could you please explain what you mean by render parts out and composite in a compositor? I think I know what you mean, but I’m still very new to animation, havent even started my college classes yet, so would appreciate a detailed explanation or a link to a tutorial on how to composite rendered parts in a compositor.

As for the particle effect thing, I only have Essentials so I do not believe I have access to the particle effects.

Also, i plan on saving up for a mac peo when the new model releases, you say i wont see any great boost, but would I see considerable improvement in performance on larger more complex scenes using a new mac pro versus my machine now?

Well, it’s not a good idea to treat your entire animation as a single scene. What is generally done instead is that an animation is divided into smaller parts (scenes, camera views, etc.) and each part is then rendered out and finally it’s all put together (including the soundtrack, music, etc.) in a non-linear video editor and/or compositing software. Often various elements in a scene (background(s), foreground element(s), characters, etc. are all treated as individual items as well. You already found out about one of the reasons to work like that (performance), but it also allows the animators and artists to focus on their part of the work.

And before you do start doing ANY animation of reasonable length, you create storyboards in order to understand what goes into each scene and each camera view in a scene. Scenes can consist of sub-scenes, and so on.

As for tutorials: there are so many, it is hard to choose. It depends on the type of compositing you are looking at. If you need many and 3d layering, you need something like After Effects. But in the film industry Nuke is a clear favourite. Another alternative is Blackmagic Fusion (which is free for download, btw!).

If you only need limited effects, and you merely require to combine all the rendered parts and sound for the final output, a video editor will mostly suffice. Many options: Premiere, Vegas, Blackmagic Davinci Resolve (free again), Final Cut Pro (Mac only), and so on.

Look for tutorials on ‘compositing’ and the name of the software you are interested in. A VERY simple example:

Thank you so much for the information, I will look into that as soon as i get home.

As for the new Mac Pro that is supposed to come out next year: don’t hold your breath. The current Mac Pro is not a good investment at all, and Apple realized they made a mistake with it. We don’t know anything about the hardware yet, so performance is up in the air.

Besides, it depends on the CPU used, and other factors whether that machine will be able to run Harmony any faster - single thread performance is the most important factor.

A shame you are running Essentials: you are missing out on the particles. However, that is another advantage of compositing software: they all come with very powerful particle effect generators.

Suppose you require some rain in your scene, with random wind blowing rain and other particles thrown left and right. You animate the character(s) and render out the scene as an image sequence. Then you use Fusion to open this image sequence, and place the character(s) in the comp. Next you add the background elements. You add lights. You create animated clouds for the backgrounds, and place those in the comp. Then you add two particle generators, one for rain, one for other particles. And you add an effector that simulates the wind. Finally, you add additional effects, and do some colour grading/correction to blend all the elements together.

And you render the entire scene.

Obviously you could do this up to a point in Harmony, but Harmony is not specialized in comping - it is better done in a dedicated app.

Download Fusion and Davinci Resolve, and look up a number of tutorials to get yourself started.

Btw, you could also download Opentoonz, and use its particle effects to render rain, and then bring that image sequence into Harmony.

To be fair, Harmony Premium has a pretty good compositor built-in, and studios do use that bring everything together as well. Personally, I prefer to work with a dedicated compositor, because those are much more powerful than the built-in one could ever hope to be.

Use the right tool for the right job :slight_smile:

Look at the new iMac Pro which is more appropriate for artists compared to a Mac Pro. But it will immediately cost you a bundle starting at $5000 and you have to order the maximum desired RAM upfront as it cannot be upgraded later.