As Untold Studios continues to grow and leverage the scalability of AWS, Reid estimates the studio’s on-boarding and provisioning process for artists takes less than one minute, making the company extremely agile compared to studios using on-premises workstations. Noted Reid, “We can automate nearly everything, apart from creative of course. We can on-board artists quickly and hire remote talent without worrying about their workstation setup. It’s all done through our home-grown launching platform, so the technology team can concentrate on improving other areas of our workflow and taking on the new challenges to revolutionize our industry.”
Since all of Untold Studios’ compute power and storage reside on AWS, artists are able to work from anywhere in the world. This flexibility has proven advantageous to the studio and its clients as the studio transitioned to a full work from home model in March 2020. “Moving to a working from home environment was easy for us,” shared Reid. “Every aspect of our infrastructure can be managed in the cloud, with detailed metrics easily accessible across machines, allowing artists to troubleshoot if any issues arise. We can also develop builds faster than most as we launch from machine images. And once changes have been made to the AMI (Amazon Machine Image), it takes seconds to capture the new one and even less time to change the launch code across workstations, whereas with on-premises workstations, an engineer would have to take the time to update each physical machine.”
Artist collaboration has also benefitted from the studio’s embrace of AWS. Each individual can access and view project files securely and instantly from anywhere, whether inside or outside the studio. They can work alongside their teams and take immediate action, allowing for a more fluid creative journey. “Our collaboration capabilities with AWS have profoundly impacted our creativity. Whether in the same room or across the world, our teams can visualize work as well as give and receive feedback in seconds,” said Reid. “In our studio space, all the desks are identical so there is no re-configuration needed once an artist has moved seats, saving valuable time. Also, we don’t have significant hardware, so our tech team isn’t weighed down by having to move around kit.”
Most recently, Untold Studios artists have been tapping virtual workstations on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) G4 instances, which are optimized for digital content production with NVIDIA T4 GPUs and Quadro technology. “G4 has had a huge impact on how we work,” noted Reid. “We can upgrade a whole fleet of workstations with one line of code, so artists can work faster, improving creativity within everything we do.”
With expanded instance options to select from, Untold Studios can more accurately match virtual machine types to specific workloads, an approach that is beneficial both creatively and economically. By working more efficiently, the studio can devote more resources to R&D, thus continually elevating its work and technical capabilities to realize even the most ambitious creative visions. Having near-infinite storage capacity with AWS has also been key to the studio’s success, as they can easily scale resources to take on jobs they wouldn’t have been able to execute otherwise.
In terms of future plans, Reid envisions that Untold Studios will continue to grow its talent pool and broaden capabilities. “Using AWS, we can work with an infinite number of people, including directors, designers, animators, copywriters and script developers, so we’d love to keep adding to our arsenal as we take on new and exciting creative challenges in original content, advertising, music, and beyond. As digital content is becoming increasingly complex and bigger in data size, with shots taking longer to render and requiring more powerful machines, we’re well-suited to take on these formidable projects and can do so with no capital expenditure, simply change a few lines of code,” he concluded. “For those considering the cloud for content production, take the leap. It’s an exciting journey and you can confidently say you are building a studio for the future with a key balance on technology and creativity that will remain current and efficient throughout all areas of the business.”