A studio in Your Pocket: an innovative approach for remote working environments

Published on: Wednesday 6th May, 2020

Escape Technology and HP conducted an insightful study regarding how the animation and VFX industries adapted themselves to the covid-19 crisis by quickly switching from a studio work environment to working at home. The study showed that about 55% of the studios were able to provide a solution for their artists to work from home, and anticipated that this wasn’t just a quick fix, but something that most of the studios could sustain over a long period of time. 35% indicated that the main obstacle for working from home was technology and not NDAs preventing them from accessing their clients’ data outside the office walls.

The study provided some recommendations in order to help studios in their adoption of a remote workflow solution, such as pushing pixels rather than data. The study also underscored our lack of experience in working remotely, which we all see as an inevitable evolution, crisis or no crisis.

Filmmaking is all about collaboration

Filmmaking is all about collaboration, and the content creation tools we use across our media should facilitate a seamless real-time, shared editing experience, as well. This aspect of our work becomes more poignant during such times of “forced professional distancing”. The same underlying technological advances that make it possible for studio CG artists to work from home today, have matured enough to make it possible for tools operating on big data (inherent in 3D content production) to be connected and interact with each other in real-time. As a community we have the talent. We have the cloud and internet infrastructure. We have the hardware. But to make the process seamless, efficient and adapted to the challenges our industry requires, notably with respect to data security, a new generation of DCC tools is needed.

a studio in your pocket large

PocketStudio (literally a studio in your pocket), which was introduced at the SIGGRAPH 2018 Real-Time Live! event, is, as far as we know, the first Digital Content Creation tool built from the ground up upon a real-time collaborative editing workflow. It runs on your devices, and not on distant virtual machines. Interestingly, this kind of solution requires us to push data rather than pixels (more on this in a future post). PocketStudio delivers a viable alternative and an innovative approach to remote working solutions. In times of quarantine, it could become part of a survival kit for many small companies and freelancers! It brings all members of a team working from different physical locations into the same virtual environment and allows them to work on different parts of a 3D animation movie in parallel, seamlessly, in real-time and with any device (desktops, mobiles, etc.).

Real-time remote collaboration is an idea that until now, we have only been able to speak about. PocketStudio makes this a reality. One of the goals behind our work is to help the industry to reflect on the role that remote workflows will have in the future and the different approaches that are available to support such workflows. Our initial motivation behind the development of a real-time remote collaborative engine was to support creativity but in the light of the current events, this topic is now taking on a whole new dimension.

In any event, we are more eager than ever to give artists and companies across the world access to a public beta of PocketStudio. We can’t wait to let you finally experience how it feels to work with a real-time collaborative editing workflow. Stay tuned, we are almost there.

Jean-Colas Prunier