Herne Hill Scales for a Growing Team with Maya and ShotGrid Integration
Boutique Canadian film and television production company Herne Hill Media is a small but robust team of roughly 50 people, recently established by Toronto-based VFX executive Dennis Berardi, an expert in immersive, cinematic computer animation.
Acclaimed, multi-award-winning Berardi has worked with director and producer Guillermo del Toro on numerous films, including The Shape of Water and Antlers. Both productions are known for their fantastical, sometimes terrifyingly photorealistic creatures. Fittingly, Herne Hill has already established a reputation for their compelling Creature and Character FX work. They also have considerable talent working in their in-house Art, Editorial, and VFX departments.
Herne Hill is currently bringing an ancient world to life for the upcoming major historical action film, Desert Warrior (2022), directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and produced by Jeremy Bolt (Resident Evil). The epic stars Aiysha Hart, Anthony Mackie, and Ben Kinglsey. The Hollywood-style tentpole is filming in the Saudi Arabian planned city of Neom, hailed by its creators as a utopian megacity. The name Neom blends the Greek word “neos” (new) and the Arabic word “mustaqbal” (future).
Herne Hill engaged with Annex Pro for help with all their visual storytelling needs—ranging from hardware and software to service support and remote worker infrastructure. In addition to providing exceptionally responsive, personalized support, Annex Pro is also a 5-Star Gold Autodesk Partner since 2007. This credential means Annex Pro is fully authorized to resell the world’s most popular animation software tools for media and entertainment. Expert full-cycle care includes initial consulting and cost comparison, as well as warranty fulfillment, training, and upgrade advice. Herne Hill Media uses Autodesk’s powerful ShotGrid for production management, integrated with Maya for ultra-realistic creature creation, and digital drawing tablets from Wacom – all supplied by the team at Annex Pro.
“Annex Pro is highly responsive to our weekly requests.”
Studio Manager, Herne Hill Media
Dave Sauro, Herne Hill’s business development producer, describes balancing an artist-driven culture with team growth: “We strive to embrace innovative approaches to design and workflows, where the artist is encouraged to run with their ideas and inspiration. We enjoy being highly selective about which projects we take on and are very focused on Creature work,” said Sauro.
Composite image from a video call with Herne Hill Media.
Clockwise: Dave Sauro, Herne Hill’s Business Development Producer; David Fix, Systems Architect; and Diana Remane, Studio Manager.
“Maya and ShotGrid are industry standards. They let us quickly, efficiently onboard new team members. Autodesk’s ability to stay on top of VFX trends and roll out frequent updates is part of why we would never switch.”
Head of Production, Herne Hill Media
Autodesk ShotGrid workflow from Using Autodesk ShotGrid for More Than VFX
Looking ahead, the Herne Hill team anticipates scaling to roughly 100 team members, but they are determined to maintain their boutique culture and always put the craft of filmmaking first. Keeping their work-from-anywhere infrastructure secure and optimized for efficiency will be a key priority. Next, they plan to explore ways to maximize the ShotGrid Toolkit Pipeline—featuring many different APIs and subsystems—to its fullest potential.
Annex Pro looks forward to helping Herne Hill Media thrive by lending their media and entertainment software and hardware expertise to support their growing team.