The epidemic has forced creative companies of all sorts to review their approach to working as a baptism by fire which has put a fresh hybrid-working model to the test. When it comes to the creation of entertainment-related content, studios stocked with cutting-edge equipment and eye-watering processing capabilities suddenly needed to relocate and work remotely , without losing their stride.
“Just because we’re in center of a global epidemic, studios don’t get a break,” reflects Robert Hoffmann who is the senior global industry manager for media and entertainment for Lenovo. “Locked in our homes We’re still looking for new and innovative media. Don’t let infrastructure become an obstacle between creators and the content they want to produce. No matter what the circumstance they must be able of creating and refine their work as fast as is possible, and often.”
From a bird’s eye perspective of the entertainment and media sector, Hoffmann has seen the pendulum shift entirely away from traditional production during the past year – and he isn’t able to imagine it returning. “We’ll witness a more multi-faceted production method,” he says. “Artists are working remotely and have been able to meet expectations from an artistic and timing perspective I believe that a lot of studios have been amazed by the possibilities.”
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EXCELLING UNDER TIGHT CONSTRAINTS
This is definitely the case for Framestore and its history of producing awards-winning VFX for blockbuster film as well as TV shows with a cult following and top-of-the-line ads, the international studio was quick to adapt to the demands of remote-working. “The last year has shown the company that remote work is easier than we thought,” reflects Lottie Cooper who is Framestore’s managing director for television, advertising and immersive.
“Our productivity wasn’t affected by the recession except for the time required to connect the crew. We were extremely pleased with the quantity of projects that we completed remotely on time,” she continues. “Once we got back on-set the majority aspects of the processes we had simplified because we had to employ smaller numbers of people working. It really helped with approval and decision-making processes.”
“Motion designs and animation is one of the most pandemic-proof areas in the media” says Adam Jenns Director and founder of Creative Production Studio Mainframe which has more than 20 years of experience producing creative commercials and brand content for international brands. “There were some ups and downs, however we’ve had the best luck in the perspective of everything.”
A large portion the Mainframe’s 3D work requires the use of a high-end GPU capabilities: “That means multiple graphics cards packed in huge white boxes” Jenns says. Jenns. Remote desktops have proven useful in connecting performers into studios from distance, ensuring the quality of the studio’s output while ensuring very little disruption to the process. “It’s fascinating to walk into an empty studio to see artists working away at their desks with no monitors,” he adds.
Be aware of these requirements, Lenovo partners with Mechdyne to provide remote solutions for TGX, which allow the artists to remotely work quickly and efficiently on work with high-fidelity and safely. “You can remotely access the power of a computer cluster with huge GPU and CPU capabilities, with latency that’s so low that it’s barely noticeable,” explains Hoffmann.
SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT BALANCE
Another production and VFX studio that is at the highest level across the entire spectrum of TV, film and advertising production, Moving Picture Company has spent a lot of time thinking about the most ideal spot for the highest level of creativity in a hybrid working future.
“We’ve always been convinced of working in sync to create something new. Sharing thoughts and ideas propels us to move ahead,” says Jonathan Davies who is MPC’s managing director. London as well as Amsterdam studios. “We have a completely remote work environment yet we are still operating at a high-level. The main issue is creating something that can be placed between the two.”
“The businesses that can master it will end up being the winning story of the next decade,” Davies continues. “We’ve discovered how collaboration improves on large projects and initiatives but smaller-scale executions in remote locations are more challenging. There is a lack of quick discussions when the people are in the same location.”
Jenns believes that three days at the studio is the ideal optimal time for the majority of Mainframe’s artists. two days of working remotely. “It’s not the perfect solution but it means that most of the IT problems are limited in the Studio,” he continues. “As it is, we’re working with an underlying server, we’re aware that daily backups are happening and that all important information is stored in one location at the end of each task.”
TOP-FLIGHT CREATE CREATIVITY IN THE MOVEMENT
As mobile workstations get more efficient Framestore’s Lottie Cooper thinks there could see an increased volume of VFX work that is completed on-site. “On shoot, we make sure we gather the highest quality information and images in order to create the smoothest, highest-quality photographs,” she explains. “Whether at the location and on location, our team is offering assistance in visualising the VFX quickly, which will assist the director and the clients in making decisions.”
As Hoffmann says one of the most costly aspects of a major-budget film is when a hundred or more people sit around watching the producer make a choice and for the actors to speak, or for a scene be put in place. “Having an office-like environment remotely can help increase efficiency during the period when production costs are the highest in the stage,” he says.
Mobile workstations with high-end features such as Lenovo’s T15g, have now been equipped with graphics and processing capabilities that rival desktop counterparts. This allows users to block scenes with VFX heavy effects while in the studio and making the entire post-production process easier and more efficient.
“We can operate from any location based on the needs of the project” MPC’s Jonathan Davies, although he says that in the last year, the attitude has changed in regards to how crucial it is to arrive there in the initial place. “With more advanced technology and communications I’d prefer to see less people traveling around the world and able to be completed to a high quality via remote access,” he adds.
Better access to world-class talent
According to Hoffmann his research, the shift to virtual collaboration can also benefit studios and artists in terms of attracting and retaining the best talent to do the job. “Artists are a popular commodity,” he says. “Studios are competing for the same talent and there are enormous expenses associated with attracting artists – regardless of whether you’re moving them from a town nearby or even further afield.”
“Social disconnecting has led studios into exploring and use technologies to create remote working environments and, by this way, they’ve addressed one of their biggest issues,” he continues. “It might not be practical to relocate the artist into their studio but you could transfer from the studio to that artist.”
The increasing use of remote workflows will decrease the need for huge office spaces in costly areas such as London, New York or LA. “Out of all bad things, there are good things that can happen,” continues Hoffmann. “Just that it’s been always done this way doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient or cost-effective or the most beneficial method for employees’ health.”
“Will be claiming that everything’s perfect? No. The production wasn’t flawless prior to social media, and people are always looking to improve their effectiveness and productivity,” he concludes. “But it’s not about the technology but more about the awareness that we all have to be willing to take the step of faith.”