A cloud based studio? Yes it’s possible and is already happening
I have some news! I am setting up a production company with some really talented colleagues to create our own feature films and motion picture content, which have a strong visual effects component (because my Partners and I are all vfx professionals) to tell high-concept stories.
Scary right? Yes, a few years ago you would need a full office with all the overheads of running a film production business.
But today we have the luxury of cloud based technology, allowing us to be anywhere in the world, which means we can spend time with our families and yes work on the same projects while having access to the best talent wherever it might be.
Time to do other things
Which also means when things are quiet (while we’re waiting for project funding to come in etc.) We can all still go and do other things like freelance work at other studios (anywhere in the world) without the big burden of premises and the staffing overheads etc - and still be linked and connected virtually and work on things wherever we are.
Companies like Atomic Fiction are one of the few emerging companies starting to do this as their core business model and have delivered big feature films vfx that way.
To enable our cloud based drive production company to work we need to invest in the tools rather than expensive office and operational overheads.But most of the tools for communication, administration, and project management are very cheap and affordable and pretty much run off a laptop or tablet.
Tools in the cloud
With the main visual effects tools required for animation etc. being available on subscription base, and licensing driven via VPN server setup, the idea of setting up a production company creating visual effects content is possible with minimal overheads.
The even cooler thing is with the tools being affordable on monthly subscription or rentals you can put that against the company cost, which helps, in yearly tax returns.
To start off we need to get our creative tools in place.
We need to have a full arsenal of production tools for Editing, conforming, compositing, grading and audio for our postproduction side of the company.
It would cost a fortune a few years back to buy all the individual licenses. But now Adobe have released Adobe creative cloud - which is the full creative suite for the monthly subscription price of $49.99 a month and there are also team-based subscription models which is ideal for studios with dedicated in-house artists based globally. But it also allows you to manage the software licenses and grow and ramp up your resources based on project requirement.
Film Compositing is usually done in Nuke and therefore most of the compositors on the market are nuke operators so we need nuke licenses and thankfully The Foundry rent licenses working from the individuals machine system ID (node locked), although we would try and do most of the compositing in an Adobe workflow there are some things done better and quicker in Nuke (camera projections etc.).
Usually we only have a few months (or less) on the sequence so purchasing rental option may work well and you can budget for it from the project budget.
As a production company we write tons of scripts and always developing new scripts with our network of talented writers.
For that we use Adobe Story, which is based online and allows for collaborative writing sessions. The thing we found with Adobe Story is that its not just a collaborative script writing tool its way more than that, its also a production tool for line producers to create call sheets and shoot schedules breaking up the script over the days available to shoot.
In Part 2 I will be going though our Cloud based pipeline breaking down the tools available for the operational side of the studio.