M2 Animation // Pushing Redshift Hard for LEGO Animation

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M2 Animation is an animation house situated in Bangkok producing primarily high-spec CG & 2D character-based animation for series work, TV commercials and short films. YellowDog was their GPU Render Solution of choice.
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With the help of Redshift and YellowDog, M2 Animation is a studio that has been finding out just how hard you can push GPU rendering. They produce high spec CG and 2D character based LEGO animation for series, TV commercials, and short films.

Read on to find from Head of Studio, Marty Knox, how they benefited from spinning so much GPU power that they were officially rendering on the 8th fastest super-computer in the world.

Every day brings different pressures

“Every day is spent thinking about LEGO,” laughs Marty, “but as there is no such thing as a normal day, there’s never a dull moment. We do full pre-production & production on site, which includes concept art, design, editorial, assets, layout, animation, lighting, compositing, FX, and of course, rendering with both CPU and GPU facilities.”

The studio team are always kept on their toes, and busy studios bring their own pressures.

“We’ve been working on The LEGO Friends TV specials for 6 years,” Marty reveals. “It’s a bucket of fun and the whole crew is incredible, but the schedule can be demanding.”

 

High quality animation requires high quality rendering

Picture This Studio have equipped themselves well to cope with rendering by investing heavily in their people and getting up to speed with Redshift; they can pump out high quality renders faster than ever before.

Marty says this is all consolidated with the help of others too: “We have our own render farm and have also turned to cloud rendering solutions when we need some extra help or have an emergency.”

Picture This use one of the fastest render engines on the planet and had render farms on standby if needed. So why turn to YellowDog?

“When we had this latest crunch, we needed something special to help us. We needed a reliable, easy to use render solution. But most of all, we needed crazy levels of GPU on demand.”

The Picture This team are always determined to deliver the best possible quality, but for one project even with Redshift that was going to take too long.

This was a GPU job that needed high levels of awesome, dedicated, secure GPU power. In under two days, YellowDog performed 7750 hours of GPU rendering for Picture This. And this wasn’t ordinary GPU: this was over 200 instances of dedicated dual NIVIDIA Tesla P100 technology securely rendering with Oracle.

Learn more about Tesla P100

It’s not all about the technology

And on top of the infrastructure, Marty liked the personal service from YellowDog too: “Their whole support team was quick to respond and eager to help.”

There are always more challenges than you anticipate. Marty says: “As we were faced with incredible time-pressures, upload time became a serious factor. YellowDog laid on customised solutions to get the files transferred to us quicker than with their standard set-up. We made the seemingly impossible, possible. We delivered top results and met our deadline.”

Producers are getting excited

So what impact will faster renders, with faster delivery, mean for producers like Marty?

“Technologies like Redshift and YellowDog are turning previously slow renders into fast ones. Producers will rightfully take advantage of the technology but it will put different pressures in different places.”

Producers know that there is no such thing as ‘more time’, just ‘time spent elsewhere’. That elsewhere, for Marty at least, could be in the emergence of higher quality entertainment, which he considers an exciting tipping point in the industry:

“We can start to achieve things that we couldn’t do before because the barriers of time have been lifted…almost. If you watch some streaming sites, you see straight away where budget decisions have been taken to compensate for the impact of render times on higher quality images. That kind of stuff is going to disappear from our screens over the coming years.”

South East Asia on the up

Marty is particularly buoyant because of the shift in Thailand’s creative reputation.

“For years, people have turned to Korea, Philippines, China, and India,” Marty acknowledges. “These are the big four for international animation and there are some good reasons why that is the case – but there is an incredible talent pool in South East Asia. The industry seems to be realising that we’re creating world class work and it won’t stay under the radar for much longer.”

Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore are on the up and we believe that at YellowDog, we’re doing our bit to help studios scale no matter where they are based.

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