Atomic Fiction Fuses with the Future
Anton Dawson: There are a couple of companies out there that are actually working on developing platforms to do this by. They take into account data transfers and security and have bundled that into a product that will be accessible, much like Shotgun. They have done a phenomenal job of making a web-based method of having distributed access to production tracking information. So the idea would be, whether it's one guy sitting in a room or a small pod of five artists working in a remote location, to make sure that they have access to the data they need, and that the actual infrastructure is able to scale with the bigger projects we get. And also to make sure that security is a part of that, which is a major concern of the studios. A lot of these systems are using bank level encryption: they have very tight access control so if somebody is behaving badly or they quit or are worried about a drive getting stolen, you can shut it off instantly.
RT: Also, when you talk of distributing work like this, where the industry is heading is actually more secure in some ways when you realize that at a large facility an artist literally has access to the entire film, sometimes five or six films, depending on how large the facility is. Having finite control is really essential.
BD: And what about satellite facilities, either in the U.S. or Canada?
RT: Yes, that's part of the distributed model, which supports, as needed, projects of various sizes. We're basically able to open up small pods -- as we're calling them -- in various locations, whether they're tax incentivized or aiming at a particular market or talent base, and really being very nimble about our actual square footage: breaking it up, as it were, into small areas that can move with markets, move with tax incentives and move with talent as it is needed.
BD: What's it like for you now in Emeryville?
KB: The facility we're at in Emeryville right now is just under 3,000 square feet and can support about 25 people. But Emeryville actually has an amazing technology infrastructure. One of the reasons why we picked it as our home base is that there's fiber corking through the streets here. It took us less than two weeks to get fiber to the office and get it hooked up with the co-locations around the world we're using right now as our data center. And we're pushing 200 megabyte bandwidth right now, which is something that we've never had at any other small studio. Just by leveraging the technology infrastructure that's in Emeryville right now, we're way ahead of the game.
BD: You did some transparent work for Just Go For It and you have some music videos in the works. What else?
KB: We have a feature with around 200 shots that we're going to be working on in February…
RT: Lots of digital characters and environment stuff that we're in the bidding and planning stages on, really trying to leverage a lot of the experience that our core team has over the years, and, again, to bring that to bear on the market with a price that hasn't been seen before at a company of our size.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.