Tangent Animation – Customer Success Story
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With studios in Toronto and Winnipeg, Canada, Tangent Animation delivers
computer-generated animation, live-action film production, visual effects, and
software development. Films include the Netflix sci-fi feature Next Gen and
the Spanish-Canadian co-production feature film Ozzy.
“We chose Teradici Cloud Access Software because it keeps content securely in AWS—never on endpoints—is easy to deploy, and delivers an excellent artist experience with Blender, Houdini, and 2D applications like Photoshop and Substance Designer.”
– Jeff Bell
Vice President And Coo,
Tangent Animation emerged as a rising star when it received multiple Annie
Award nominations for its work on Next Gen, a computer-animated action film
that Netflix released in 2018. Tangent’s leadership attributes the company’s
success to top talent, industry-leading production tools—and innovative
approaches to driving down production costs. “When working on Next Gen,
we saved $500,000 in licensing fees by using Blender, the open-source 3D
creation suite, investing the savings in software development and artists
to increase show quality,” says Ken Zorniak, President and CEO of Tangent
Animation. “And by rendering on Amazon Web Services (AWS) instead of our
on-premises services, we quadrupled our capacity—completing 3.5 million
hours in just two months.”
The success of rendering on AWS sparked another idea. Why not also move
artists’ workstations to AWS? “Virtual workstations would enable us to avoid
the costs of replacing 150 physical workstations nearing end of life,” says Jeff
Bell, Vice President and COO of Tangent Animation. What’s more, enabling
artists to connect to a virtual workstation from anywhere would make it
simpler to work with top talent in any location.
To realize the vision, Tangent needed a solution that would support stringent
content-security requirements from the Trusted Partner Network (TPN),
support Wacom pen-display and tablets, and deliver a great experience
Tangent found its solution in Teradici Cloud Access Software. “We chose
Teradici Cloud Access Software because it keeps content securely in
AWS—never on endpoints—is easy to deploy, and delivers an excellent artist
experience with Blender, Houdini, and 2D applications like Adobe Photoshop
and Substance Designer,” says Bell. Another plus: Teradici Cloud Access
Software works with Linux as well as Windows applications, giving Tangent
the flexibility to choose the best application for the task regardless of the
required operating system.
To test Teradici Cloud Access Software, two artists used it to produce part
of a new animated feature. One artist worked on an ordinary PC; the other on
an Intel NUC (4”x 4” mini PC) with a Wacom Cintiq Pro 32. The artists used
Blender software running on AWS G4 instances with NVIDIA T4 GPUs and
NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Workstation which includes the latest Quadro driver
supporting 3D applications and AI-features. “Our artists really liked the Teradici
experience on both clients,” Bell says. “There’s no cursor lag on the tablet—a
Breakthrough: no cursor lag on Wacom pen displays and tablets
Now Tangent is getting ready to introduce virtual workstations to 150-200 artists in Toronto and Winnipeg.
Replacing 150+ physical workstations with virtual workstations on AWS will lower costs. Tangent can spin up virtual machines when needed and spin them right back down when the project is done, paying only for resources actually needed.
Say an artist works on a crowd scene in the morning and a two-character scene in the afternoon. Crowd work requires more GPU power. “With Teradici Cloud Access Software and AWS we pay for just the GPU power we need,” Zorniak says. “An artist can log into a Blender instance powered by multiple NVIDIA T4 GPUs running the Quadro Virtual Workstation for crowd work and later log into an instance with a single GPU for simpler animation. Managing our IT costs this way leaves more budget for artists and technical staff— leading to a better product.”
Hiring talent is simpler with Teradici Cloud Access Software and AWS. If the best artist for a job is in Montreal or Vancouver, for example, Tangent can ship a sandwich-size Intel NUC for next-day delivery. “We don’t have to worry about endpoint security because with Teradici Cloud Access Software, data never leaves AWS,” Zorniak says. Only encrypted pixels travel between AWS and the endpoint. And instead of renting a large studio for all artists, Tangent can rent smaller offices by the day for collaborative work. As a result, the company expects to maintain or reduce overall office space over the next two years despite increasing crew size.
Zorniak concludes, “Virtual workstations are the future for our industry, but
getting to the cloud typically takes a lot of effort. Teradici Cloud Access
Software simplifies the journey.”