The Moving Picture Company (MPC) stands as a global leader in the realm of visual effects and production. They sought to pioneer a fresh operational approach for the future cadre of visual effects (VFX) artists, hence they engaged us to reimagine how VFX software could function, with their vision firmly set on a cloud-based platform. This posed a considerable challenge given the industry’s dependency on high-resource-intensive applications.
A major concern for MPC was the enormous expenses related to their central processing units. A single film project typically engages around 500 VFX artists, with the hardware per artist costing between £3,000 to £5,000. Transitioning to cloud-based software would significantly alleviate their financial burden.
The film industry has been slow in fully embracing the transformative innovations of the digital world. Consequently, much of MPC’s work is confined within isolated office spaces, and the specific storage and networking demands often result in the continued use of outdated tools. Essential web features and functionalities such as collaborative working, group channels, real-time editing, and cloud computing are conspicuously absent from this antiquated software. To inspire upcoming generations, it was vital for us to ensure the user interface layer of the product was commensurate with established digital tools and designed for continuous improvement over the next several decades.
During the initial discovery phase, we collaborated with artists, supervisors, and stakeholders, envisioning the future trajectory of VFX and conceptualising how web technology could streamline their workflows and yield more striking outcomes. To ascertain how we could facilitate MPC’s transformation, we delved into a range of possibilities, including expedited releases and real-time previews of even the most resource-intensive assets from any global location.
Our investigation underlined that the primary difficulties revolved around teamwork, thus we pivoted our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to center primarily on enhanced collaboration. One of the significant hurdles in this undertaking was trying to operate intricate VFX programmes on the cloud, facilitating collaboration with zero latency – as though the programme was executed on the user’s own device. For instance, no existing industry solution allowed VFX artists to manipulate 3D objects via a cloud-based solution – an essential benchmark for the success of this project.
We developed a ready-to-launch user interface for MPC’s VFX team that enables artists to collaboratively work on the same file/asset in the cloud. We ventured into uncharted territory, experimenting and crafting a solution that empowers MPC’s VFX artists to manipulate 3D objects in a collaborative real-time environment from anywhere in the world. This innovation was indeed a groundbreaking first in the VFX industry. Furthermore, we aimed to establish a benchmark that would serve as a blueprint for subsequent enhancements within the novel framework. To achieve this, we intensified our quality control measures, thereby improving the quality of the codebase and ultimately delivering production-grade code to MPC.
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