How Fix Studio creates high-quality video visual effects with Google Cloud Platform and Image in Network

Fix Studio is a post-production company specialising in 2D and 3D visual effects and color correction for prestigious global advertising campaigns, including Cartier, BMW, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Creating special effects requires rendering images on highly specialised software running on powerful render nodes. It can take four or more hours to create a single frame of animation. Fix Studio was using 160 in-house render nodes to handle its work. When additional work came in that required more render nodes, it would rent them. That was costly and it could take the studio a week or more to order and deploy them.

Fix Studio won a major project to create visual effects for a 16-film ad campaign, but worried it could not meet its deadlines because it would not be able to rent and deploy enough render nodes in time. It also didn’t have enough physical space for them in its studio. So it turned to Google Cloud Platform and Google Cloud Platform partner Image in Network to augment its in-house render farm. Doing that would allow it to meet its deadlines for those projects and future ones, while cutting costs and reducing deployment time.

"With Google Cloud Platform, we can scale to meet any animation and special effects needs, without having to spend time and money to rent machines. Computing power is always available to us, and we’re never in danger of missing deadlines." — Maxim Doucet, Chief Information Officer, Fix Studio

Running rendering software on demand

Image in Network built a platform in which Google Compute Engine runs as many instances of the Maxwell 3D rendering software that Fix Studio needs. To run the Maxwell software from GCP, a Fix Studio artist only needs to click a button. Fix Studio does not have to rent a new render node, wait for it to be delivered and set it up.

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A still from an advertisement Fix Studio produced for Cartier.

Fix Studio continues to use its render nodes to run Maxwell software side by side with the instances being run by Google Compute Engine. Artists can work with one another and hand off work in the same way as if only on-premises render nodes were used. The files that artists use are very large (several gigabytes for all dependencies needed to render an image), and to speed up access to them in the cloud, Image in Network deployed the Avere cloud-storage solution to cache them and to allow a completely transparent cloud-rendering setup. No change was needed in the artist's files or the way they work.

“Using Image in Network as an integrator was a key part of the success of this project. Their expertise in building a scalable platform built specifically for the needs of 3D artists and animators was a great value every step of the way,” — Maxim Doucet, Chief Information Officer, Fix Studio

“Google Cloud Platform was the ideal solution for Fix Studio because it scales quickly and gives them as much computing power as they need to do their rendering work.” — Fabien Illide, President, Image in Network

Scaling quickly to take on new business

With Image in Network and GCP, Fix Studio can scale to take on jobs of any size. It no longer needs to wait a week or more to rent and deploy render nodes.

Maxim Doucet, Chief Information Officer, Fix Studio, says that by using Google Preemptible Virtual Machines it costs less to run Maxwell software (which can resume interrupted renders) using GCP than it does to rent render nodes. The company can save between between 10% and 50% in costs compared to renting. The more machines they need, the more economical GCP becomes. In addition, the GCP virtual machines are more powerful than the workstations Fix Studio used to rent, because 32-core and 64-core machines are available in the cloud instead of the 24-core nodes ones available for renting.

“Google Cloud Platform has worked so well for us that we’re considering moving away from on-premises render nodes and working completely from the cloud for some projects” — Maxim Doucet, Chief Information Officer, Fix Studio

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