How does VFX for film, TV, commercials — and music videos — differ? Or not differ? What are the expectations/demands from your clients these days and how are your software choices helping you stay up to the task?
GM: There are definite differences between the various categories of work, but I'd say a good portion of those differences vary from client to client as well. With films, we generally have a longer timeline and our work evolves along with the film, so the trick becomes staying on budget through the creative process.
In music videos, the turnarounds are borderline insane — as in, you're "lucky" to get two weeks — and the budgets are very tight, but there's much more trust placed in the VFX company to do a great job, so more of that money ends up on screen rather than being lost to revisions.
Commercials and TV fall somewhere in between, respectively, but we've really found our television clients to be great at looping us in early for big sequences — which, again, gets you more bang for your buck.
Software-wise, speed has always been crucial for all our projects. Every time we deliver on a seemingly impossible deadline it becomes the new standard for how much time we need, so we've had no choice over the years but to get faster in order to keep up. Thankfully, the developers keep finding ways to make V-Ray twice as fast every release, which helps!
Can you talk a little about the hardware you use to render with V-Ray for Houdini? Do you render everything in-house or do you make use of any render farm or cloud-rendering services?
GM: We have a 1,600 core in-house farm that's roughly doubled overnight by the artist workstations. We've tested V-Ray Cloud and are immensely pleased with its ease of use — something every other cloud-rendering service seems to miss. We're waiting on support for the .vrscene per frame workflow, which will allow us to integrate it nicely into our pipeline.