View Full Version : Starting a studio question

03 March 2003, 10:04 PM
I was thinking the other day of how an aspiring animator would set up a studio to do 3d work. What would they need? Special hardware? For software I have the following / AM, Photoshop and After Effects. Do I need a video editor? I was thinking between Vegas Video and Premiere. What else would I need? Any suggestions? Just trying to get a perspective to know what would be needed.

Thank you.

03 March 2003, 12:17 AM
Usually, your best bet is to buy tools when you find that you need them for a particular job. In terms of hardware, make sure you've got a way to easily archive your work . . . ideally you want to make a backup every day. You'll need at least a few gigs worth of backup storage at first . . . enough for all of your models, maps, rendered frames, and important documents like scripts and e-mail. Every once in a while you should make a portable copy of your backup and move it to an off-site location like a safe deposit box at a bank, just in case your office is hit by flood, fire, or giant radioactive locusts.

Broadband internet access and a reliable chunk of web space are also good things to have. You'll probably want to have a place where you can upload or host your dailies and allow your clients to view them securely.

Otherwise, don't buy anything until you know that you'll need it . . . you don't need to buy a bunch of expensive hardware that will just go obsolete and never get used for anything.

03 March 2003, 11:45 AM
Premiere, for what it costs is good. In comparison to other programs it sucks. I have not used Vegas Video. If you have a mac i would recommend Final Cut Pro, but only if you are able to spring a grand. Other than work flow and its color correction tools it is not much better than Premiere, however premiere is such a pain to work with.

Balistic: how much editing needs to be done in a production environment? i have done a bit of live action and there the editing plays a significant role, as despite the storyboarding and preperation a whole new level can be added with the knife. but with animation you have complete control from the start. the animation should follow the storyboards fairly closely so how much needs to be edited if it is planned well?

Do they work towards shooting coverage for the editor? I mean, since the animation is dependant upon the storyboards, they arent going to animate a reaction shot that wasnt thought to be needed. So when the editor decides he needs that shot is it then animated, or for scenes likely to need such shots do they just do up a couple extras?

03 March 2003, 04:46 PM
AS long as there are clients there will be edits. ;)

03 March 2003, 04:46 PM
With the kind of animation we're doing at Eggington (low budget, quick turnaround), most of our editing is done during the storyboarding and previsualization phase. It's good to have an editor like Premier at that point so that you can play with different shot timings, and generally get the show planned out with OpenGL renders and proxy models (and even pencil sketches). Once that timing is finalized and sync'ed to the audio, we try not to render anything that won't be used. The animatic tells us exactly how long each shot needs to be, so there's very little waste.

If a shot is 126 frames long in the animatic , that's how much the animator will animate.

03 March 2003, 06:37 PM
You'll also need a renderfarm for sure. Even that our small studio's workstations are rendering whole nights, it still takes too much time. You have to remember that single frame rendering could be anything from 2 minutes to 2 hours (and not to speak about complex scenery with a lot raytracing etc.) So one second animation (24 fps) would be from 48 minutes to 48 hours!

You can also use rendering services from other companies, but I do not know much about that.

03 March 2003, 01:28 AM
That right there is a big issue with AM. Although its network rendering tools are by far the easiest to use of any that I have tried, the render times are amazingly slow. Especially if you use Multipass. Test your render times as you work. If you can. . . avoid raytracing anything. Raytraced shadows look cool. . . but are often not worth the extra hour a frame overhead. We try and keep our render times at about 10 minutes a frame if we can help it. In LW that buys you quite a lot. . .

03 March 2003, 07:57 AM
you are talking about a studio to make money with, correct?
if so, then *FIRST* get get the business software and procedures set up before you work on the creative part of it.

just a few areas:
quotes / invoicing
contracts (client, freelancers, salesmen, vendors etc)
calender of payments due
flowcharts of how a project is handled
tax issues
collection agencey, small claims court forms
backup systems and sources, physical security

basically, since you usually can't bill for a quote or writing an invoice or a collection letter, you need to consider the the time you spend on non-production issues as an expense at your hourly rate.

Having been a partner in a small NYC multimedia studio, I can elaborate on the painful reasons for all of the above.

maybe we should start a sticky thread of the business aspects of a studio, or can someone recommend a forum?

as far as the production side goes, you need a backup for all mission critical hardware, and it has to be usable almost immediatly. If the boot drive of your main system dies, do you have a spare drive on hand with all the software pre-loaded, so you can be back up in 10 minutes?

ultimately, plan for going home at night content that just a few more hours work in the morning will let you complete the big job, and the next day walking into a nearly empty office surrounded by "police - crime scene" tape. Will you still be able to deliver the job on time? Will it put you out of business?
With the right pre-planning, it won't be too bad. (a similar thing has happened to me)

03 March 2003, 04:08 PM
Hi, I've had the fortune of coming into (not free, but cheap) 3 xtra machines for my small studio... I've been getting by with my primary machine and another hooked up via crossover cable for rendering.
So, now with the extra machines I have my primary computer plus a 4 computer render farm. I'm still setting the machines up and getting everything I need (I only have the computer itself). I would like to know
do I need a monitor for every machine?
These are macs... so I can put an alias for the slaves in the start up folder so upon starting up it would launch automatically and wait for frames to be dolled out.
Any thoughts on this?
Mike Fitz

03 March 2003, 05:07 PM
install VNC on them, and you can run them headless. Just make sure that when you do need a monitor on them, the cords can reach. A mechanical KVM setup may be your best best bet to elimiminate a 3 am "hunt the cable"

03 March 2003, 05:55 PM
Thanks for the link! I'm checking it out now
Mike Fitz

03 March 2003, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by jayrtfm

maybe we should start a sticky thread of the business aspects of a studio, or can someone recommend a forum?

I would love to see a thread or forum about the business aspects of a studio, and producing animation. I would think out in the main forum area would get a lot more traffic.

Cheers, Graham

03 March 2003, 08:36 PM
Seems like talking about business here is like saying you are a lepper at a party. I started a thread in the general discusion and quickly got the impression that artists don't like anything tho do with business or people who like business. That's too bad, because in the CG bizz, I don't see how the you can have one without the other.

This is the link if interested.

Cheers, Graham

03 March 2003, 08:49 PM
Its the one part of the job I hate. Clients, payroll, taxes, insurance, product licences, hardware, networking etc.

Its much more fun to talk about the . . . fun. . . stuff. . .


03 March 2003, 09:21 PM
When I suggested (threadid=48091) a business forum I was told to post in the general discussions forum. I've been looking at the threads there, and am finding very few relivant threads.

Do you know of any other websites that deal with the business aspects of running a creative media studio?

03 March 2003, 09:57 PM
I don' think you are going to find anything. that'd be like asking for everyone to post their cards in a poker match. As open as CG studios are. . . I don't think they are going to post a "how to get big clients clients" tutorial.. . .

03 March 2003, 09:34 AM
Animation Nation ( has a business forum, you might want to check that out.


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