Achieving efficiency in production environment

Efficiency as a concept is essential at every level be it pre production or production. On that note, AITF witnessed a dynamic session on achieving production efficiency in a studio-working environment. Enlightening the subject were Jai Natarajan from MEL, Amir Shahinsha and Krishna Prasad from DUX Soft.

(L to R) Animation Xpress Network‘s Anand Gurnani, MEL‘s Jai Natarajan and DUX Soft‘s Amir Shahinsha and Krishna Prasad


The session started with a discussion on whether high-end technology is helpful in increasing the efficiency of overall production. “Even with high-end technology being used, the production efficiency may go down if the planning and deployment is less efficient,” said KP. He elaborated his point by saying that as more and more people consent on using this kind of technology, the system traffic increases and gets congested during the project peak delivery schedule.

Jai Natarajan spoke on how studios and vendors can deliver proficiency. He said that a studio is a dynamic environment wherein if things are not checked properly, it is likely that the situation may get out of control. Therefore, a timely health checkup (workflow and IT audit) once a year is essential to increase the competence of the department. He stressed on analyzing the software and hardware, employees working in the department, their strengths and weaknesses and accordingly, planing to bring in additional expertise or train the current skill set to increase the performance.

Amir Shahinsha emphasized that the production team must be like an ‘entrepreneur within the company‘ in order to save money and to give better quality output. This will help to start the pipeline process effectively.

KP stressed on the studio perspective. He gave an example of how a small studio function of file transferring can affect a studio‘s productivity. A studio bringing the best of the technology boxes may not be able to achieve the best results. He stressed upon the tuning the network architecture to deliver optimal efficiency. Even a 60 second change may add performance to the studio work. It is about adopting the right deployment parameter but not the product.

“Efficiency is not measured by what you delivered but by how you delivered it.” On the same lines, a need to fine tune the infrastructure for better results and to look at intricate details for better management through investment plans were expressed.

Natarajan addressed the issue of artist perceiving the systems to be complicated and feeling that their freedom is restricted while implementing a pipeline. “It is a culture clash situation,” he said. According to KP, a system should have a roaming profile to reduce mismanagement of time, since the user settings need not be tweaked every time a user changes the system. Technologies are made available so that artists can make use of all the facilities even from his/her home.

Natarajan further advised the audience to ask technical and detailed questions within the studios and the respective teams like, a) How many internal retakes have happened in the last xnumber of shots and to check the percentage of time that is spent on the same b) What is the average output delivered by an artist and list them according to their efficiency, c) Ask the production team about the how they are tracking the projects and are they tracking the right information.

nullShahinsha further added as an example, that it is not the lighting heads job to track the efficiency. But he needs to know how his team is functioning and he needs to keep a track on his/her teams‘ efficiency. And it‘s very important to track the artist‘s skill sets and efficiency constantly. Individual development progress data should be stored in a systematic manner instead of being stored mentally by an individual.

The members were inquisitive about the focus on importance of efficiency on hardware and software, and how the production team can be more involved in it. Shahinsha replied, “In a word, production is the backbone. It is a bridge between the client and the artist.” The production team takes grievances from the artists, be it technical issues, and track them till it is solved. Natarajan added “Using a simple hook can automatically update the system. The production team needs to strip the pipeline down to the basics to make it simpler”.

Another query asked was what the single most limiting factor is when it comes to creating animations in a live-action movie, the complications involved and precautions one must take, to which Natarajan replied, “Animation is a rigid and flexible. Rigid in the sense that changes cannot be made in different stages. However, it is flexible in the sense that, while working on one stage, many changes can be made in that particular stage.”

Animation is a one directional flow. Every speck of dust has to be created. Directors need to mould themselves according to the requirement in order to come out with better quality VFX. Therefore, anticipation, certainty, along with planning and precision are needed, concluded the session.