Animation studio adopts fully remote workflow using Qumulo

Animation and advertising studio Psyop transitioned to fully remote work with the help of Qumulo, a hybrid cloud storage vendor with products specifically for media companies.

COVID-19 lockdowns forced people into their homes and their eyes onto screens of all sizes.

The need for companies to create media and content never ended, even as the prospect of returning to the office or studio seemed more and more distant.

Still, some companies found a way to spin this challenge into an opportunity, such as animation agency Psyop. Qumulo serves as the storage backbone for Psyop's international cloud workspace, allowing its team of artists, animators and more to collaborate across the globe in Autodesk Maya, Adobe Premiere and more.

Pysop was founded 21 years ago and has primary offices in Los Angeles and New York. Some of the brands the company has worked with include Wendy's, Disney and Clash of Clans, in addition to creating independent animation and shorts.

Now, following the pandemic lockdowns, Psyop's main offices aren't necessary.

Psyop CTO Matthew Herman said the services provided by Qumulo will likely allow Psyop to remain fully remote.

Qumulo does not shy away from working with media companies and creatives like Psyop. Last month, the company launched Qumulo Studio Q, an all-in-one remote editing environment for Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects through AWS.

Remote locations, instant collaboration

Herman said the company had been transitioning the company to an entirely remote work environment with an initiative called "Psyop Anywhere" prior to the pandemic. This initiative would allow Psyop to hire from across the globe, as well as avoid costly property bills in major metro areas.

"The idea was to use the opportunity to work from home effectively and allow our staff to be anywhere," he said. "We were limited to hiring talent within those regions because they had to physically sit there."

Qumulo allowed us to completely reproduce the way we work on prem in the cloud.
Matthew HermanCTO, Psyop

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. hard last March and lockdowns went into effect, Psyop expedited the timetable to go remote.

"The first idea was to move all of our infrastructure into a colocation, but after looking at the costs associated with that and the timeline, we determined that there was an opportunity to leapfrog that into a cloud environment," Herman said. "Really, what it came down to was we decided work from home was going to be here forever for our business and we saw that as an opportunity."

Artists and creatives working for Psyop now use a custom setup created by Qumulo, which uses Teradici to create virtual machine workspaces while using AWS for storage. Creatives working for Psyop can access and use its software tools as if they were at their own workstation and share their files with coworkers seamlessly.

Herman said Psyop selected Qumulo due to his past experience with the product, including as a test user before its official launch in 2015. Qumulo's ability to work in both Windows and Linux environments was a key reason for Qumulo's selection.

"The requirements for us were multiprotocol support, because we run both Windows and Linux workflows," he said.

Additionally, he appreciated Qumulo's ability to work across all three major cloud storage providers and shift between them as needed, depending upon location or future needs.

"This is one of its greatest strengths," he said. "I did not want to be locked into AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Platform forever, in case there's better opportunities with one of the other providers. ... It helps us treat the cloud more like a commodity than infrastructure that we're truly locked into, like we were in the past."

Shift to the cloud

Cloud storage can be pricey, especially when you consider ingress and egress fees. But the removal of on-premises storage and its associated costs and headaches was well worth the trade, Herman said.

"Qumulo allowed us to completely reproduce the way we work on prem in the cloud," Herman said. "We already had a pipeline around central storage, but it was old. We had to maintain racks and racks. Now, it's effectively software as a service."

Herman said setup was straightforward and the team has encountered few issues once they were fully in the cloud. He praised the Qumulo support team as well, noting their accessibility for any issues.

"Once it was in production, we effectively had no problems," he said. "The support has been wonderful. There were no teething issues -- a solid product overall for the money."

Dave Raffo, senior analyst at Evaluator Group, said media files are typically some of the largest files to move around and an effective solution to move those in the cloud without latency is rare. Normally, such files would require companies to keep folks close to the storage itself in an office.

"A lot of companies are starting to bring people back," he said. "In this case, you have a highly collaborative business saying, 'Work from home together.' It's interesting they're doing that."

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