Fostering the Speed of Collaboration for Award-Winning VFX

The media and entertainment industry is going through generational changes. As the industry evolves, the supporting infrastructure needs to evolve as well.

Industry Media & Entertainment
Use Case Animation & Visual Effects
Overview

Since its founding in 2004, Lola Visual Effects (Lola VFX) has pioneered new techniques for subtle yet transformative visual effects work. From digitally altering actors’ appearances to seamless face replacements, Lola VFX brings filmmakers’ visions to life.

The media and entertainment industry is going through generational changes. As the industry evolves, the supporting infrastructure needs to evolve as well. The volume of visual data is expanding exponentially as film and television continue to shift to higher resolutions like 4K, 6K, and even 8K. A single project can involve terabytes of raw, high-resolution footage. For example, on a typical shoot day, Lola VFX may capture a dozen or more reels of 6K footage amounting to multiple terabytes of data.

This volume strains productivity in several ways. First, transferring the enormous footage from on-set storage into central infrastructure creates a bottleneck. High-speed ingest is critical so that post-production can begin as soon as possible. Second, sharing these massive files between globally distributed VFX artists becomes prohibitively slow. Reviewing and annotating relevant clips is key for collaboration. Finally, real-time playback of high-res content for approvals, comps, and other reviews is essential. Constant caching bogs down workflows.

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Lola VFX + VAST Data

Lola VFX leads in transformative effects, seamlessly altering actors' appearances and faces by consolidating data on the VAST Data Platform amid the evolving media.

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VAST exceeded our expectations. I initially estimated a 24-36 month ROI, but now 15–18 months is a more accurate ROI due to our overall productivity and efficiency gains.

Edson Williams
Founder, Lola VFX
Background

To accelerate collaboration, Lola VFX needed to consolidate all of their data on a high-speed shared data platform accessible to artists globally. After evaluating options, they selected the VAST Data DataStore for its performance, scale, and multiprotocol capabilities. The VAST Data Platform is composed of several components including a DataStore, DataBase, DataSpace and DataEngine.

Williams explained their stringent demands: “The current way of doing things would not work anymore. We have very high expectations because our use case is so extreme. We push systems harder than almost any environment I've ever seen.”

He continued, “VAST exceeded our expectations. I initially estimated a 24-36 month ROI, but now 15–18 months is a more accurate ROI due to our overall productivity and efficiency gains.”

Outcome

By eliminating playback delays, VAST Data accelerated shot review, approvals, and collaboration. Artists globally can now work together in real-time on large files. The high throughput and scale-out architecture overcomes the ingest, sharing, and playback challenges posed by soaring data sizes.

Lola utilizes Autodesk Flame in its film editing process and Lola has 60 Flames globally with 40 Flames at its Los Angeles office. With VAST, 60 Flame artists are able to collaborate together on one platform with an aggregate throughput of 64 gigabytes a second. Williams elaborated, “All our artists in Los Angeles can play back 4K in real-time on the VAST Data Platform. In the past, we had to RAM cache each shot, taking 3–4 seconds each. That adds up with 60–100 shots per day in review.”

One unexpected benefit to Lola was the data reduction ratio. Anderson remarked, “The amount of compression we got was 2:1 on data which does not usually experience that level of data reduction.”

The VAST Data platform removes data management burdens, letting Lola VFX focus on their creative craft. As Williams concluded, “The Media and Entertainment industry is going through a generational shift. VAST is helping us adapt to these industry changes and make our company more productive and profitable.”