Why Studios Should Prioritize Their Technology Stack in 2021

When I speak with heads of studios across the country, the most common challenge has been how to meet aggressive production deadlines with a remote team of artists in that … weird year. 

Virtualizing all of their creative work has meant that both studio production and technology executives have had to completely rethink their team productivity, cost structure, and ultimately their on-premise vs. cloud stack in 2021.

On-prem vs cloud?

For most studios, building up a fully cloud-based production pipeline with their remote team has not been feasible because of 3 common reasons:

  1. “It’s too expensive” - particularly when factoring the bandwidth costs required to transfer assets into and out of the cloud.
  2. “It’s too difficult to navigate” - there are so many options and very little support provided by the well-known, generalized cloud providers.
  3. “It’s hard to walk away from my investments in physical hardware”  - there have been meaningful investments already made that empower your team to work efficiently in the office.

When artists were physically in the office, they worked on high-powered workstations literally tethered to the few servers that rendered all of their projects on-premise. Now, they are constantly dealing with inconsistent internet connections at home with more stressful deadlines.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your technology stack wasn’t causing those bottlenecks that literally keeps your team up at night? What if it wasn’t too expensive, too difficult, or didn’t require a wholesale change?

One step towards the cloud at a time

Some of the largest studios in the world, including Weta and Universal, were able to accelerate the shift to a fully cloud based pipeline using the latest visual effects and animation technologies. However, for most other studios, this type of investment in scale and resources is not necessary nor feasible.

As we’ve begun to partner with forward-thinking, agile studios, we usually recommend taking incremental steps towards building a robust cloud solution:

Stepping Towards the Cloud

Start with a simple but effective render manager integration that allows teams to leverage CoreWeave Cloud on-demand for more complex projects, while still leveraging the hardware you’ve invested in for “every day” projects. There are two advantages that this approach brings:

  • Immediately flex up an studio’s current capacity before committing to a full migration to a cloud-based production pipeline
  • Immediately reduce rendering costs by 80% while improving job speed by more than 90%.  

Or fully migrate to the cloud at once

In other cases, we’ve helped teams pull the ripcord and fully migrate their entire pipeline to the cloud. This often means scaling up their use of Virtual Desktops, storage solutions, and rendering capacity without asking artists to change their workflows. Studios in this category have realized that they can reduce both their OPEX and CAPEX significantly, by shrinking both their office space (i.e. space servers) and their fixed technology expenses (i.e. hardware and software). They’re also able to increase client margins by increasing the speed at which their artists can work and significantly reducing the rendering costs of each project.

Want to Talk to an Expert? Get in Touch.

2020 has thrown a lot at us, but together we’ve learned to adapt. If you need help in navigating your current hardware and cloud investments or want to transition cost-effectively towards increased render capacity and virtual desktops, we’d love to help! Feel free to provide us with your contact details and we’ll recommend a migration path that works best for you. 

Hope to chat soon!

Max Hjelm

Head of Business Development 

 

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