Managing Large Project Video Memory in iClone 7

Dec 04, 2019 at 03:00 pm by Warlord720

Managing Large Project Video Memory in iClone 7

Working with large scenes can be a real pain, particularly in a real-time app like iClone 7. 

With most iClone projects... you don't even think about the settings as they are usually set to the max your system can handle... maybe a little over as we all live on the edge right?  

However, those obscure settings you tinker with once in blue moon, all of a sudden, become very important when you are using around 100 moving characters (crowds), winter visuals, PopcornFX effects, and a polycount well north of 1 million. 

In the past, such a scene was managed by breaking it down into parts and compositing the resulting video renders. This adds a few steps and a generational reduction in render quality. 

We all know about toggling items from shader to wireframe and in between but... unless you attach every prop in the scene to a common object(s) you will have to toggle those in selected groups or individually which leads to creative frustration as toggling switches tends to be anything but creative. 

Settings 1The left side shows a modest 7.1 of 11 Gigs while the right side kicks it up to 9.2 Gigs with MipMap Selected

So... how much does changing settings lighten the load? Without getting technical, (you notice how I made that sound like I really KNOW the technical side) I used a real-world project with loads of characters, effects and props to push the VIDEO memory limits of what we can and can't do depending on settings used. That is as technical as we are going to get.

Like mileage on a car, your results will vary somewhat depending on your hardware setup, project, and camera view. For this I am using the i9, Twin 2080ti driven Puget System beast that I have yet to bring to its knees. Believe me...I have tried.  At full load it did slow it down, to the point I turned off Mipmap and Bump map while retaining the Normal Render State so I could see the textures. 

The project file consists of a landscape with snow-laden trees, a well-lit village that will push the emission side of things that is packed with an 80 person walking crowd (Anima) and much smaller idler crowds totaling around 100 moving, dodging, textured characters. The animation is baked in but iClone still has to handle all the moving parts and this project is taxing on the iClone environment. 

Settings 2
Toggle off Mipmap, Toggle on Bump map to drive up to 10. 6 Gigs while the right side show it maxed out 13.9 Gigs which means you are now offloading to the CPU.

Below are the results with various settings: 

Load with all but Mipmap and Bump selected: 7.1 to 7.4 (11 Gig Limit) 

Load with all but Bump Map Selected: 9.2 (11 Gig Limit) 

Load with all but Mipmap Selected:  10.6 (11 Gig Limit) Stops and starts. 

Load with all Selected: 13.9 (11 Gig Limit) Very jerky movement. Stops and starts common. 

Pretty easy to see who the bad guys are here, Mipmap and Bump. 

For a more pleasing visual experience while working leave the Mipmap and Bump home. Sure, it's like inviting the band instead of Lady Gaga to the party but you get 90% of it while not resorting to hair pulling or teaching your kids a new word or two.  

I could tell you stories about how us ancient ones had to make do with wireframe which was an improvement over bounding boxes. Any animation was uphill... forward and back. Just like walking to school in the snow every day when we wuz young 'uns... including summer school! 

Yes... I could tell you more but "OK, Boomer" springs to mind since we no longer have to suffer the slings and arrows of the depraved injustice that is monochrome 3D.  Toggling the mode from Normal to Smooth (turning off textures) only dropped usage from 7.2 to 6.9. Wireframe only dropped to 7.1 but was unusable anyway as the landscape wireframe fouled the viewport obscuring everything.

Good visuals can lead to better animations.  If I can manage to work on a scene with everything and seeing textures then continuity is no longer a concern as you won't have to piece them together in yet another piece of software.

So... if you don't want to work with basic white in the Smooth Render State then turn off things like MipMap and Bump map first. Work backward from there until your system is smooth enough to properly animate. It can be a real drag to find out you were dropping frames in real time that led to a terrible glitch or jerky movement in the final render. 

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.  

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