Harnessing the Power of Simulation-Ready Characters with Ziva Dynamics

Harnessing the Power of Simulation-Ready Characters with Ziva Dynamics

Learn how Ziva VFX lets users rapidly simulate soft-tissue materials and embed real-world physics into every creation.

Ziva VFX lets users rapidly simulate soft-tissue materials and embed real-world physics into every creation. By mirroring the fundamental properties of nature, users achieve CG characters that move, flex, and jiggle the way audiences expect. This approach significantly reduces any need for artisan shot sculpting or corrective shapes and, instead, leverages the prevailing simulation method from engineering and science, the Finite Element Method, to achieve high-performance dynamics, right out-of-the-box. In this introduction to Ziva VFX, learn how to harness the power of simulation-ready characters to create compelling animation.


In Ziva VFX, FEM is the underlying numerical approach used to replicate elastic objects such as muscles, fat and skin, or non-organic materials such as rubber, gelatine, and sponge. It is the most accurate, flexible, well-understood of the continuum discretization strategies and as such, it allows users to enter well known, proven parameter settings and instantly create objects that move and react organically.

The proprietary technology is sold as an Autodesk Maya plugin, extending Maya’s functionality to include the most comprehensive commercial toolset developed specifically to improve the character creation process. When loaded, the user is presented with additional Ziva menus in Maya that have been populated with the features needed for robust, lifelike character simulation.

In a typical workflow, the user begins by modelling the geometry of the bones, muscles, fat and skin. Then, using the new Ziva menu tools, physical properties are applied to these objects using “materials”. Materials specify the attributes of a simulation object such as its flexibility, volume conservation, and density. For active deformable objects like muscles, fiber directions and contractile forces can also be defined. These simulations are then connected with Ziva “attachments” so that they react and collide with each other in a realistic way. Essentially, users make shapes, give them anatomical properties, and then make them work together just as they would in real life. The process is intuitive and informed by true biology and physics.

Similarly, everything in the Ziva system is described geometrically. This makes it possible to deconstruct and then rebuild a simulation rig programmatically. It is recommended that artists familiarize themselves with zBuilder, Ziva's supplementary open source character authoring python module to proceduralize the process of character creation. Once a rig’s characteristics have been captured by zBuilder, they can then be used to generate a variety of additional characters, simplifying collaboration and making it easier for an individual artist to support a large number of assets.

Ziva characters can be deployed into any number of shots, and simulated either locally or on a render farm using either our authoring or batch licenses.

Ziva VFX Software requirements are as followed:

  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 (SP1), Windows® 8.1 or Windows® 10 Pro OS
  • Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 6.5 WS OS (and up)
  • CentOS 6.5 Linux operating system (and up)
  • RLM Server 12+ (for floating licenses)

Ziva VFX Hardware requirements are as followed:

  • 64-bit Intel® or AMD® multi-core processor
  • Minimum RAM: 8 GB of RAM (16 GB or more recommended)

You can find more references and tutorials on how to use Ziva here.