Western X Employs PipelineFX's Qube! for Santa Puppies Feature
As a preeminent visual effects firm for talking animal content, Western X has developed a custom-designed pipeline for making animals appear to speak naturally in real and CG environments. While this process has proven visually effective over a series of films, it has also been costly in terms of rendering time. This changed with the installation of Qube!, as Western X was able to mold their render farm into an efficient, semi-automated system.
“The greatest challenge we face on these films is the shot count-to-manpower ratio,” says James Tichenor, Visual Effects Supervisor and Producer at Western X. “We run a boutique studio with a relatively small render farm, so every render minute is precious, especially when twenty artists have to turn over upwards of 1100 shots during the course of a five month post.”
Key Qube! features like the graphical Frame Time histogram, and detail columns that depict Avg and ETA statistics, helped the studio easily determine job length and progress. This “Smart Farming” intelligence allows Western X to manage the high volumes of visual effects renders their work requires, all without locking artists’ workstations to long-running tasks. And when they are in crunch time, the team leases additional licenses to expand the reach of their farm onto unused desktops that would otherwise go idle during the night.
“Qube! does a brilliant job of managing our farm resource,” added Tichenor. “Its configurable load managing, prioritization, and CPU management features have made it possible to make informed decisions quickly about what needs to get sent to the farm and when.”
But to be successful, Qube! had to work seamlessly with the studio’s Shotgun/Python-driven pipeline. Through script integration via Python, a feature that has saved the firm numerous hours of manpower, Qube!’s out-of-the-box solutions made its inclusion even simpler. It’s multi-platform support functionality has made render management for Maya, Nuke and Shake a non-issue for Western X, freeing them up to develop other parts of their pipeline.
“These films really would be impossible to turn around in the time we have without a solid render management system like Qube!,” said Tichenor. “Ever since we set-up our first twenty-node farm, Qube! managed the system so well that we’ve never considered switching to another system. Not even once.”