We chat to Uel Hormann, Head of VFX at LIPSYNC Post, to discover how outsourcing 3D rendering bottlenecks to YellowDog’s cloud platform helped to deliver a feature film for cinema release in 2018.
LIPSYNC Post has amassed over two hundred award nominations and wins in their trophy cabinet, boasting Hurricane Heist, Churchill, The Nice Guys, and The Limehouse Golem as recent productions.
In 2018, LIPSYNC were awarded production work for Show Dogs. Immediately, Uel and the LIPSYNC team were anticipating some challenging render workload challenges. “We knew the rendering would be heavy”.
Contrary to the humorous and light-hearted film content, the visual effects required for blockbuster quality computer generated imagery (CGI) was anything but: “It’s a film about talking dogs so the finish is slick and simple but the work that goes into that much fur is very complex.”
LIPSYNC were already completing renders with their on-premise render farm. Their pipeline consisted of Linux OS, Maya, V-Ray, and Yeti. Yeti from Peregrine Labs was the tool of choice to create and realistically render the extreme volumes of dog fur.
They therefore didn’t just need a premium burst solution for their renders, but also a solution that could interact with their native 3D pipeline, without any hassle. With the help of the YellowDog Platform, Uel and the team were able to push the quality and volume of work to unprecedented levels.
“We knew we would hit a crunch because we were pushing Yeti so hard. We planned for that crunch with YellowDog: preparing the setup and running tests so that we were all ready when the madness arrived,” Uel explains.
With infrastructure or worker nodes installed on-premise, it can be a challenge to expand workloads to render on demand. YellowDog mitigates this restriction.
“If we had decided to expand our own infrastructure then we’re talking machines, racks, air conditioning, finding space in the building: even navigating Soho’s power limitations.”
Beyond the limited practicality of extending an in-house render farm, is the risk attached to running extreme workloads solely with on-premise infrastructure. “Imagine pounding your own workstations and dedicated nodes at 100% capacity during a render crunch. You know that it is more likely to fail. It might not fail straight away, but if it does, it could be a disaster. With YellowDog as an extension of our infrastructure, we could keep running as fast as we needed to.”
Uel continues, “…to do what YellowDog do, and on a scale like this, I know that we would have to employ someone or even a team to do the setup, make sure all the plugins and connections were working, try to keep it up to date all the time, and be relatively unclear on the cost of all that as it could just get buried in production,”.
For LIPSYNC, YellowDog removed these complexities and uncertainties of service delivery and cost.
“We didn’t have to worry about that: that sort of risk becomes their problem and we trust them.”
To support solution delivery, YellowDog strive for customer excellence across all communications. Uel reflects on the collaboration, optimisation, and support:
“We talked with YellowDog every day: making tweaks and customisations together to optimise the workflow, and it just worked,” Uel says.
“It went extremely well,” Uel says of the production with YellowDog. “The results were identical to our own renders: we finished on time and with great results – it was excellent.”
The scale of the workload and the complexity of the native environment compatibility meant that Uel drew a clear distinction between a resilient multi-cloud platform like YellowDog’s, and other industry solutions: “With a regular cloud provider, you’re responsible when things go wrong. With YellowDog, they take care of it. If you don’t want risk, go with YellowDog.”
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