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Damping update tip:

When zSolver.maxNewtonIterations is greater than 1, the dynamics were often under-damped. The dynamics are correctly damped now, which will result in some simulations appearing more damped than before. To recover similar results to previous versions, decrease zSolver.stiffnessDamping and zSolver.massDamping – possibly to the new default values: 0.001 and 0.0 respectively. This

Maya 2018 Speed Notice:

Maya 2018 has a performance bug causing meshes, that normally take a few milliseconds to process in Maya 2016, to take multiple seconds in Maya 2018. This is independent of Ziva's plugin and can easily be triggered entirely with built-in deformers.

If you're using more than 1 simulation substep per frame (zSolver.substeps > 1), then this Maya problem may be triggered and can significantly slow down everything.

The workaround is to set Maya to playback at the same rate as the solver substeps. For example, if zSolver.substeps = 4, then set "Playback by" in the Time Slider preferences to be 0.25 = 1/4 to match.
Damping tip for Ziva VFX v1.4 users

Ziva VFX is the industry's most advanced character simulation software and is now 100% free for students, academics, and educators with Node-locked or Floating licenses. Start making your best creature work with Ziva VFX today.

want a free indie License?

Currently Serving:

Autodesk ® Maya
version 2019 – 2022

Available for OS: 



Current Version:


See version release notes
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Add a physical-correction on top of any existing character rig to remove unwanted stretch, adds contacts, and generate secondary motion.


Design remarkable characters with interdependent muscle, skeletal, and tissue networks that mimic anatomy and maintain biophysical accuracy.


Build characters easily as a single volume on top of a skeleton. This approach is ideal for feature animation - capturing the bulk, volume, contacts, and secondary dynamics of a character.

Ziva Supports Your Learning

We want to help you achieve great things in all of your academic pursuits. Whether you're a student, a professor, or a dedicated researcher, you can unlocked the Ziva VFX toolset at no cost. Academic License-holders can access all of the great perks of being a Ziva customer, including:
  • Frequent software updates & hotfixes
  • Detailed tutorial videos and content
  • Access to live Ziva demonstrations
  • Direct feedback & support from the Ziva Team
  • Flexible payment options
  • Free character assets for tests simulations
  • Eligibility for reel, case study, and artist showcases
  • Take large timesteps with stable and invertible FEM
  • Use multiple material types, producing robust motion even under large deformations: StVK, NeoHookean, co-rotational, anisotropic
  • Collide objects using automatic collision detection and response
  • Add physical attachments between objects and paint where they are attached
  • Embed arbitrary triangle meshes into your simulated solids
  • Simulate thin shells (for skin)
  • Paint muscle fiber directions, then excite/contract a muscle using scripted muscle activation forces
  • Goal elastic solids to externally animated triangle meshes, for automatic addition of secondary motion
  • Paint nearly everything: attachment areas, muscle fibers, muscle strength, tet-mesh resolution, material properties
  • Use multiple types of physical damping
  • Cache simulations to RAM or disk for fast playback and/or restarting
  • Exactly preserve volume, even under large deformations
  • Script and pipeline your rig using Maya MEL, or using our open-source Python tools

+ system requirements

  • Ziva VFX software runs on any Maya 2019, 2020, 2022 compatible workstation.
  • 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)
  • 64-bit Intel® or AMD® multi-core processor
  • Minimum RAM: 4 GB of RAM (16 GB or more recommended)

+ Use Cases

  • Anatomically realistic character animation, including:
    – Anatomically accurate bending of the skin at the joints
    – Correct hand pronation-supination
    – Correct neck shape with precise neck muscle movement
    – Correct upper-body rigidity under twisting
    – Correct thigh skin shape due to quadriceps muscle excitation
    – High-quality belly fat secondary motion (inertia and gravity)
    – Correct elbow self-collisions
  • Cartoon/feature character animation with simple, single-simulation-mesh anatomy or complex, hyper-realistic anatomy.
  • Enrich existing baked animations with controllable and tuneable secondary physically based motion.
  • Modelling tool for reducing stretch and volume-change in sculpts.
  • Make and simulate arbitrary elastic objects undergoing collisions and self-collisions, from gel to plants to steel-beam bridges.

for your studies


Student LicenseLab Licenses

Only available for individuals enrolled/employed at Qualified Educational Institutions.

Proof of QEI enrolment may be required

Includes Free Ziva Assets

Every copy of Ziva VFX comes with free access to high-end,
simulation-ready assets like Lila the Cheetah.
Click below to browse our other available assets:
Browse Assets
Click to Play

All Star Students

Students and recent graduates are creating high-quality characters, right out of the gate. With Ziva Academic Licenses, aspiring artists are gaining the competitive edge needed to make it in the world's top studios.

Students like Seppe Vangrunderbeek, currently attending Howest Kortrijk in Belgium, have been making robust, physics-based creatures, right from the start. This anatomical bison was his first full creature simulation and took him a mere 2 and half weeks to build. According to Vangrunderbeek,
"Ziva is used in companies I want to end up in later, so this project was important to me. As a student, I found Ziva very easy to learn. Whenever I ran into problems, I'd just use the Ziva forum and I was almost instantly helped by the Ziva Team. I enjoy it a lot!"

Character model designed by the talented Nikolas Morel.

The Top Curricula

Visual effect schools around the world are adopting the industry's top tools to offer the most competitive programs to aspiring creators. In August 2018, TrueMax Academy, located in Copenhagen, Denmark, was the first certificate program in the country to offer a VFX program with a Ziva VFX simulation curriculum.

The intensive program taught students the fundamentals of a wide range of VFX disciplines, with the rigging and character creation division focused largely on simulating with Ziva VFX.

According to Lasse Rassmussen, the professional guest lecturer, currently working as a Creature TD at One of Us Studios in London
"Displaying Ziva VFX knowledge in your reel and showing your ability to produce that kind of work is a ticket to working in the industry."
More Indie & Student Work
More Case Studies

Tutorial video | 6:53


Volume Preservation

Ziva’s advanced volume preservation capability is one of the key features that enables Ziva users to achieve more realistic deformation results than with any other character rigging software on the market.

Our plugin offers multiple ways to control, adjust, and perfect your tissue’s volume preservation levels using the built-in Material parameters.

Ziva Webinar | 43:04


Muscle Rigging Demo

Tutorial video | 9:23


Automated Muscle Firing

Tutorial video | 12:28


Fat & Skin Workflow

More Tutorials
"It is the best muscle plugin we've found. It brings extra realism to our creatures via physically plausible muscle FX. It is a great improvement to have Ziva integrated into our workflow."
"Ziva was instrumental in helping Sony create the most realistic muscle and skin simulations for our CG characters to date. Ziva's outstanding results speak for themselves."
Sony Pictures Imageworks Logo
“Ziva’s FEM muscle and skin simulation was the last piece of the puzzle we'd been longing for to achieve realistic looking, physically plausible Creature FX.”    
Double Negative / DNEG Logo