Believe is an international team of talented artists that collaborate with some of the biggest agencies and brands in the world including Visa, Nickelodeon, HP and many more.
We caught up with Marcelo Stephani, Head of Production at Believe, to learn more about the studio, the challenges they’ve had with rendering, and why the future looks bright with GPU and YellowDog in their pipeline.
“We’re a group of 30 in-house artists and producers who really love what we do,” says Marcelo. Every project not only delivers to the client, but gives the team something to be passionate about.
A landmark project for Believe was the music video for will.i.am and Miley Cyrus called “Feelin’ Myself”, produced in 2013. As you can imagine, Marcelo shares that: “It opened a lot of doors for us, and it remains as one of the most watched videos on our whole catalogue.”
Marcelo also has fond memories of working on Elite Horace too. He explains, “That was one project in particular that was handled by our directors and our production team brilliantly. Production was really smooth and for me, a good production is one where the client is really happy and you had no headaches at all during the process.”
Marcelo’s job is to ensure that projects are delivered on time to all clients, but, counters Marcelo, “It is always with the level of quality that we have developed our reputation with.”
This isn’t necessarily about driving people to work harder. Marcelo continues: “This includes kitting up the artists with the proper tools to do their job and actually make their life easier.”
Time is the greatest challenge in animation and motion production, and when the going gets tough, the tough get support. Believe has turned to a render farm in the past to help reduce the delays of rendering, but it wasn’t smooth sailing.
“We were working with a big render farm but we always had problems with them,” Marcelo explains, “and there was no one on the other side of the line to help us or to properly answer our questions.”
Believe switched to Redshift last year to speed up their render times and optimise delivery schedules.
“Time is our most important asset”, explains Marcelo, “and I’m always looking for solutions and tools that make production easier. Rendering is one of the biggest headaches we have in every single project and switching to Redshift has definitely streamlined some processes.
But switching to Redshift solved one problem and left Believe with another.
“When we switched our render engine to Redshift, we had a hard time finding a partner who could handle that engine well,” Marcelo explains. “We were really happy that Believe found YellowDog’s ‘Limitless Compute’ for GPU rendering. YellowDog was the solution we had been searching for.”
As if often the case, it is rarely the quality of technology that producers value the most. Or as Marcelo puts it: “If someone says that their technology is flawless, they are lying to you!”
“With YellowDog, it’s great to be able to easily talk to a human being when you have a problem,” laughs Marcelo. “For me, quality doesn’t come from the software or the hardware, but the people. Artists can make mistakes when they are under pressure. Figuring out the reasons why something needs to be corrected often needs top quality technical support. As a producer, I think that the best thing about YellowDog is the expertise you can tap into if you need it.”
With Redshift and YellowDog in the Believe pipeline, Marcelo is satisfied he now has a combination of tools that make production faster and studio life better.
For modelling, Believe use zBrush and Maya, texturing is done in Substance, and character rigging done with some of the Maya native tools. Believe’s render engine of choice is Redshift with YellowDog as their cloud render option. Final compositing is done with either Nuke or After Effects.
The more you talk to him, the more you realise that Marcelo’s enthusiasm about GPU rendering is infectious: “GPU rendering is something we are really excited about. Each day we are learning new things about it as we get deeper into it.”
As a studio originating in Santiago, Chile, Marcelo’s optimism goes beyond just GPU and Redshift.
“The future is really, really bright! The distances are getting shorter and shorter by the minute: a Chilean company rendering GPU seamlessly with YellowDog in the UK….I mean, who would have imagined that 10 years ago? Who knows what the industry and pipelines will look like in another ten years from now?”
Believe have just celebrated ten years since opening their first studio; they’re proud of all they have achieved in that time but aren’t ready to sit back just yet. As Marcelo shares, “We are passionate about continuing to do character animation; that’s what gets us fired up. We want to get into some more experimental stuff and have recently added Cinema 4D to our pipeline because there’s some cool features there that we’re keen to explore.”
Believe are represented by We Fly Coach and Elizabeth Benson out of their London office, giving a multitude of clients the opportunity to work with them from around the world.
Marcelo adds: “We have some big projects that are green lit going around right now, so we’re keeping pumped up and busy! But we’re always looking for new projects and clients to collaborate with so don’t be shy to get in touch.”
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