how large do you get before hiring a full time IT person? Also more

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  12 December 2017
how large do you get before hiring a full time IT person? Also more

Just trying to get some context, I suspect most studios have someone senior who knows what they're doing technically and can set up a software license server or small render farm.

At some point managing a render farm, IT issues, setting up workstations, and making everything work well together starts taking more of a TD's time than other things, so how big does a studio become before they start consider hiring a full time IT worker or staff?

It's hard to find hard stats or data on this sort of thing other than if you happened to work at different sized studios or know someone.

Also from what I've seen, only the larger studios seem to have "pro" gear with a "pro" render farm. Farms seem to scale out before scaling up in terms of money spend on individual machines. You see stacks of microATX and miniITX systems in small-med studios, and rows of blades or rack servers for med-large studios.

Reason I ask is some corporations have an on-site IT staff and will only support a renderfarm using enterprise-grade systems, but that cost comes out of your media dept's cost center, putting a target on your back for being expensive. So do you spend more time doing IT work yourself, or risk your dept becoming too costly if corporate IT manages your equipment "their way" ?
 
  12 December 2017
no farm just zync or conductor... a really small farm for the preview render and than to the cloud...
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  12 December 2017
Thanks, the cloud is a problem for us - we can't bill our clients, we have to support them by providing content that they pay for in a yearly fixed budget. Projects come in randomly, making it difficult to budget rendering as per-project cost, or we risk not being able to render before the end of the year.

Also there's some corporate problems with us sending data outside our walls without extreme scrutiny from them - the type of scrutiny that could get people fired.

Last edited by sentry66 : 12 December 2017 at 05:40 AM.
 
  12 December 2017
i know this kind of problems... but dont be surprised if all the other around you are 10 times faster with there projects...
its something to consider... 
https://www.awn.com/news/magnopus-s...-cloud-platform
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  12 December 2017
Originally Posted by sentry66: Just trying to get some context, I suspect most studios have someone senior who knows what they're doing technically and can set up a software license server or small render farm.

At some point managing a render farm, IT issues, setting up workstations, and making everything work well together starts taking more of a TD's time than other things, so how big does a studio become before they start consider hiring a full time IT worker or staff?

It's hard to find hard stats or data on this sort of thing other than if you happened to work at different sized studios or know someone.

Also from what I've seen, only the larger studios seem to have "pro" gear with a "pro" render farm. Farms seem to scale out before scaling up in terms of money spend on individual machines. You see stacks of microATX and miniITX systems in small-med studios, and rows of blades or rack servers for med-large studios.

Reason I ask is some corporations have an on-site IT staff and will only support a renderfarm using enterprise-grade systems, but that cost comes out of your media dept's cost center, putting a target on your back for being expensive. So do you spend more time doing IT work yourself, or risk your dept becoming too costly if corporate IT manages your equipment "their way" ?
Basically as soon as somebody can be doing IT 40 hours a week- every week then I'd say you have a job for somebody.
 
  12 December 2017
Yeah, its all about the money. You've got to be able to afford their salary + 15% overhead costs + about 2.75-3 times that cost to account for margins. Typically, for every $100k spent on someone (salary and benefits), there needs to be about $250k - $300k in revenue to support. On larger teams, say a studio with 10 artists, you are probably generating enough revenue to shave a bit off each person's billable to afford 1 IT support person. However, their billable is also going towards supporting other admin, marketing support and OH costs.

Last edited by XLNT-3d : 12 December 2017 at 03:45 PM.
 
  12 December 2017
the cost of cloud rendering is so low i don't see the point of having an it person and most IT people have no clue how our systems work or how to set up render farms they close all the ports and mess with licensing. 

also what kinda of IT work would he be doing that isn't being done already and doing a in house render farm is not cost effective if you really need it in house then get a gpu rig with red shift an call it a day.

just my thoughts ha what do i know
 
  12 December 2017
Think about the subject.
Mentions 'large'. If said 'large' = LARGE than you likely need IT for systems management, machine setup, data management, office machine inter-op, office communication setup, hardware malfunctions and trouble shooting, upgrades and maintenance of all of the above...ETC
See?! I didn't say "farm" once.

Although farms are still very common and large studios today. Not everyone wants the cloud. And GPU not great for FX really.
And I believe the OP already has a farm anyway...
 
  12 December 2017
Originally Posted by circusboy: Think about the subject.
Mentions 'large'. If said 'large' = LARGE than you likely need IT for systems management, machine setup, data management, office machine inter-op, office communication setup, hardware malfunctions and trouble shooting, upgrades and maintenance of all of the above...ETC
See?! I didn't say "farm" once.

Although farms are still very common and large studios today. Not everyone wants the cloud. And GPU not great for FX really.
And I believe the OP already has a farm anyway...


Exactly, all those things are what I'm talking about that someone has to set up.

Servers and backups don't set themselves up. Computers don't troubleshoot themselves. Sure most artists can sort of fend for themselves to an extent, but from what I've seen, most don't know how to manage larger scale IT issues or even fix their own machine. Most CG artists know how to draw, paint textures, and push polygons around, but how many are comfortable networking the computers together to a high-speed server, setting static IP addresses, setting up cascading backups, managing software licensing for the entire dept, setting up automatic email alerts for failed drives or systems, etc?

It's even more extreme if a local render farm is involved - which we use for rendering, network compositing, distributed satellite rendering, and other offloaded processing like photogrammetry, video compression, image thumbnail/watermark processing, etc. The cloud doesn't cover some of those things well compared to a local high-speed network. Debating if a cloud works for one studio or another isn't what I'm interested in.

At some point the most technically-savy person will take up doing IT work because no one else wants to or knows how and it will progressively take up more and more of their daily routine. Some of it isn't rocket science, but it's still surprising how many artists have no clue what to do if suddenly their computer won't boot or they start getting video streaks across their screen, etc.

It's true that most of the IT industry doesn't know how to deal with CG issues regarding things like driver settings, CG software settings dealing with hardware issues, managing render farms, or know how to architect the best solution for a studio when it involves so many IT disciplines. CG IT is pretty niche from what I've seen. Meanwhile most CG artists I've met have no idea about most of it let alone are aware what hardware is in their workstation. Most IT pros I've met avoid things like overclocking, geforce cards, etc. I can't count how many times an IT person configured a machine with completely inadequate hardware for CG production and cost 2x as much (multiple quadro cards, low-frequency many-core dual xeons, 1 or 2-space rack equipment as a workstation, etc).

Last edited by sentry66 : 12 December 2017 at 05:23 AM.
 
  12 December 2017
@sentry66

     If you need some consulting on setting render farms I have been doing them for a while and i even helped the tech department at digital domain port st lucie  when they were there to get set up as well. Was odd to me they didn't fully know how to get the comps talking or working, they has deadline but it was like 1/2 setup. Was cool experience.

I did my own setup here as well, nothing crazy

4 mac minis 8 core each + mac pro 16 core best investment i made and i have been able to complete ever last one of my projects.
 
  12 December 2017
Bro - some of that stuff I know, and all of it would be *fun* for me to do (ie. I'd need to hit Google for the rest). I'm not in America though. Interested?  (drop me a PM).
Oh - only if you're using Linux.
 
  12 December 2017
Thanks guys, I don't need any help on how to manage the IT issues as I'm the person who's been doing the IT work for my group for over 15 years.

I'm mainly curious in seeing what other studios do regarding the IT issues when as they grow. Do most places eventually hire someone full time, or do they continue to utilize a single or handful of people to carry out the IT work as a thing they squeeze into their day?

thehive, that's interesting about digital domain. So they didn't have any IT staff at all when you were there? It was just a group of artists setting everything up?
 
  12 December 2017
I suspect IT professionals in the CGI industry tend to specialize in it.
But you need a big 'studio town' like Montreal to have a pool of them to move around between studios/contracts.

I could see finding CGI IT specialist harder in most other parts of the world.  
Still If a very Technical artist can work with an open minded IT guy you likely can get him/her going.

Last edited by circusboy : 12 December 2017 at 02:10 AM.
 
  12 December 2017
Kind of tough to remember when the company I work for decided to get a full time IT person, I think when we had four full time animators and eight other people.
I think we made the position when one of our clients required penetration testing.

If you have a small studio though, you might want to reach out to smaller companies that specialize in 3d animation equipment. They tend to have render-farm solutions and offer on-site support. Usually you can find them on the Autodesk re-sellers lists. Though they are getting harder to find these days.
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