We asked Jon Rennie, MD of Cloth Cat Animation, to discuss the studio’s recent shift to working from home in response to COVID-19, and how ftrack has helped ease the change.
What has been the main impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cloth Cat at this time?
We’re rather lucky in the animation industry. We split many productions between different studios, or some creatives, like freelancers, do everything remotely. The software we use is also, by necessity, designed for mobility.
The problem that arises in a situation such as this concerns assets, and how connected your project is to storage and a render farm. For Cloth Cat, fortunately, we were able to transfer our current 2D animation production Luo Bao Bei to remote working without too much fuss. In some ways, the problem we faced was around communication; that’s where ftrack helped a lot.
How did ftrack help in that regard?
We were already using ftrack to review and track notes, but these features became increasingly important when we were no longer able to get everyone in the same room to discuss shots and ideas. Our recent update to using ftrack Review for this project meant that our shots were already in the cloud, and rendering stayed at a minimum. Everything was fluid, and communication didn’t falter.
Will ftrack remain pivotal as a remote solution as you transfer production out of the studio and into people’s homes?
It will become a necessary part of our production process now that we’ve shown it can happen without too much impact. If anything, this is an opportunity to allow for more remote production, but only if it doesn’t increase the admin burden for production. We’re currently too attached to central servers and the need to access large amounts of asset data for it to be seamless.
Security is the other concern, and we musn’t deal with this lightly. Allowing workers to download sensitive files and data to their home machines is not an ideal solution, but we have to make do under the circumstances. However, this is something we’re working on for the future, and I think it will be a great perk if we can offer it again.
Do you have any advice for other studios currently looking to navigate the tricky situation imposed on us all by coronavirus?
The main thing is to allow staff to work as full time as possible and embrace home working as a solution. I think everyone now realizes how much can be done outside of a studio environment and with a better connection to families. It now takes a technological solution to help make this a viable alternative to large offices, but I’m pretty sure that it can happen with enough R&D. Animation as a medium is very fortunate because we can execute it anywhere. It’s common for studios to be collaborating all over the world. Modern tools like ftrack mean we can now take this even further.