Atomic Fiction Fuses with the Future
With VFX boutiques closing left and right, why would a new startup believe it has the recipe for success? Well, Emeryville-based Atomic Fiction, comprised of refugees from Robert Zemeckis' defunct ImageMovers Digital (Mars Needs Moms), believes it has just the right combination of digital talent and modern savvy to pull it off. We spoke with Kevin Baillie (co-founder, president, vfx supervisor), Ryan Tudhope (co-founder, creative director and vfx supervisor) and Anton Dawson (creature supervisor) about their roadmap, which includes embracing such new technologies as peer-to-peer data synchronization, Amazon EC2 cloud rendering and a completely web-based production tracking environment.
Bill Desowitz: So tell me about Atomic Fiction?
Ryan Tudhope: The company's been around since 2010 but we have really been reinventing ourselves in 2011 trying to figure out how we do our work and best apply our experience.
BD: What's your roadmap for being leaner and meaner?
Kevin Baillie: That's actually a great question because there's quite a bit of stuff that we're looking to do both in the immediate term and two years down the line. Really, right off the bat, what we've been trying to do is take all this big and medium size company experience that we all have and putting it to use in a way that is more affordable to clients. We are low overhead and are able to communicate more efficiently and share ideas back and forth. We've got a lot of ideas about how to keep that vibe as we go but right now it's inherent in the structure of the company. Things like digital environmental work and face replacement -- one of Anton's specialties is making insanely awesome digital faces -- we're able to do things that only a handful of other companies can do but at a price that's far, far lower. And the same goes with digital environments: Ryan and I have a lot of experience with that and can do them as well as anyone else -- we think. And so that is one of the main advantages we offer today. Down the line within the next one to two years, we're working on two major things that are going to keep overhead low and continue to grow.
KB: Two really key ways of doing that are distributed technology and distributed departments. One distributed technology is doing more work in the cloud as its capabilities become more accessible and cheaper and more powerful.
RT: And from a standpoint of a company like Atomic Fiction, it's really a no brainer to go in that direction, we believe, because it was only a couple of years ago that a company needed to make a huge capital investment just to be able to have the firepower to behind this level of work that we're able to do. And by treating the render farm as more of a utility, it really gives us the opportunity to scale up an ILM-size render farm one minute and then scale down to basically nothing the next. It's a pretty huge advantage to us and our clients.
BD: And where are you in this process?
KB: We are talking to several other companies as far as that goes and we'll be able to say more in the very near future.
RT: But the main thing is that there are ways to distribute the infrastructure and the technology and then down the road the same thing goes for the teams that are actually working on the projects.