We talk with Gabriel Edwards, Head of Animation at Liquid TV, Tom Bridges, Managing Director of Neon, and Will Jeffers, Head of 3D at Ambassadors to discover more about the pressures of delivering high quality commercials and campaigns for some of the world’s most prolific clients and initiatives.
Liquid are a BAFTA award-winning studio based in London that deliver content for BBC, Netflix, ITV, Channel 4, Sony, UEFA, IMG, National Geographic and more. Gabriel Edward’s responsibility is to maintain the high standards of animation in the studio whilst ensuring clients are happy too.
Edwards: “Our clients, such as UEFA, expect absolute top quality.”
Delivering corporate videos, broadcast title sequences, and digital content for such a variety of clients means Liquid need to be reactive and attentive to client expectations. They have been using cloud technology to do just that for several years.
Located just a mile away from Liquid is Neon: a visual effects and motion graphics boutique that has been creating award-winning commercial work since 2010. Amongst their other valued clients, Neon are proud to work with household brands like Sky, Sony, Nike, ITV, Woolmark, Fox Sports, and more.
Notably, Neon have used the YellowDog Platform for a long running Sky commercials campaign for their SkyQ package which was commissioned by Venturethree.
Meanwhile, located in mainland Europe with studios in Amsterdam and New York is Ambassadors, who craft content for brands such as Nike, Uber, Jaguar and Booking.com. Will Jeffers, Ambassadors Head of 3D used the YellowDog Platform to burst demanding CPU renders to the cloud for the animated television commercial series: ‘Antibiotics: Use Wisely, Take Precisely’ for the Federal Office of Public Health.
Jeffers: “The brief had expanded to be three languages, three films, with two versions each. Factoring all of that in with multiple characters and a lot with fur, meant that the challenge of rendering it all to a deadline really came into play.”
Reflecting on CPU workloads – required to deliver to persistent, tight project deadlines that can run in parallel – Gabriel concedes this is a tough technical challenge.
Edwards: “Although CPU render algorithms improve over time and get more efficient, they also get more complex.”
The technical complexity and render demands at Neon are often driven from the creative and commercial objectives of their client.
Bridges: “Sky wanted to highlight ‘Ultra HD’ and the benefits of Sky Q’s 4K resolution – magnifying the details that you’d otherwise miss with regular HD viewing.”
Neon could foresee that, with a relatively small team, a 4K brief with hyper-realistic visual effects, and no huge render farm on site, they would need to burst their CPU renders to the cloud to ensure delivery. They turned to us.
Similarly, the creative brief Ambassadors delivered for the Federal Office for Public Health placed high demands on CPU rendering. Several of the films that were produced needed high volumes of fur and hair which, without a technological intervention, could have risked the delivery of the project.
Jeffers: “That is a render challenge and so we had to think of clever ways to chop that up to make it achievable. YellowDog was critical to the success of that particular film.”
We integrate with native environments to provide a seamless extension to on-premise or private cloud infrastructure and software licensing. Both Neon and Liquid used Cinema 4D and Arnold pipelines and burst these with our technology. Ambassadors operated a Maya, V-Ray, and Yeti CGI software pipeline, with some Houdini. Additionally, Neon scheduled key shots for burst with the YellowDog Platform via their native render manager, Deadline.
Bridges: “If we kept those key shots rendering in our own studio, we’d probably still be rendering them into next year.”
Liquid, Neon, and Ambassadors all use a hybrid cloud approach – using on-premise infrastructure as a primary solution and bursting to the cloud where necessary.
Liquid have used cloud for several years as an overflow for CPU renders.
Edwards: “It allows us to accommodate client changes quickly and to stop bottle necks.”
Neon’s hybrid approach with our Platform is helping them to stay ahead of others in the industry.
Bridges: “We use cloud rendering and we render on our local farm too – we make it work on cost and we keep winning fresh work because we invest in our production delivery.”
And Ambassadors turn our technology on and off to maximise quality, profitability, and punctuality for their clients.
Jeffers: “We have an on-premise render farm and we use all of our workstations in the evening too. It isn’t always enough for the quality we’re after at short notice, so we sometimes use cloud rendering too.”
Edwards: “One of the big differences of YellowDog to other cloud rendering services is the absolutely excellent customer service. If I need something doing quickly there is always someone at the end of the phone or email that can help.”
Bridges: “They’re familiar with the production process: they know the pressures, they feel the deadline, and ensure that we aren’t left in the dark.”
Jeffers: “There’s something very nerve-wracking about going to the cloud and putting that risk in the hands of someone else. Now, I feel confident because the technology is proven and the team have taken the time to visit us at the studio twice. I know that YellowDog really get what we are trying to achieve creatively as well as technologically.”
Our workload acceleration technology for on-demand tasks enables customers to react and succeed in competitive environments.
Neon’s high quality and timely production deliveries, for their clients such as Sky, are reaping real reward.
Bridges: “For that campaign as a whole, Sky are delighted. We started with a group of three Sky commercials to test the water and they’re coming back for more – how far that will go, and in what direction, is unknown but it is incredibly exciting.”
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