Redboat: Animation, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics
Redboat was founded in 2008 by Adrian King to provide 2d & 3d animation, visual-effects, and motion-graphics for the film and television industry. Redboat’s clients include advertising agencies, production companies, broadcasters, film-studios, corporate enterprise, events organisers and government organisations all over Australia.
For the last five years Digistor has provided Redboat with pre-sales consultancy and support to help them get the best value and functionality from the creative applications that are central to their work – Autodesk Maya, Chaos Group V-Ray, Adobe Creative Suite – After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator, Foundry Nuke, Final Cut Pro & RealFlow.
Prior to starting up Redboat, Adrian owned Sydney based post-production company 'RGB Pictures' and has lectured in digital media at the Australian Film and Television Radio School (AFTRS). Initially Redboat was based near Sydney’s Bondi beach with a collective of TV & film producers. During his first couple of years in Bondi, Adrian realised a shift amongst many of his customers preferring to liaise via technology rather than come in for meetings.
“I found clients increasingly preferring to use Skype, email, and transfer files via the internet. Gone were the days where clients value the perks of visiting dimly lit star-trekian edit-suites with giant plasma screens, lush sofas and free cappuccinos! Business has changed and it has been revealed that glamour does not mean value.” said Adrian.
Adrian had always wanted to experience living in Byron Bay so he decided to see if relocating Redboat there and working remotely with his clients would work. He was pleased to find that it worked just fine.
Instead of having a full time team, Redboat assembles specialised teams on a project by project basis. This keeps Redboat’s overheads down and means it’s lean and efficient as well as resulting in better team culture, client relationships, lifestyle balance, more fun, and a high level of creative excellence.
For 3D animation Redboat use Autodesk Maya and to get the best photorealistc renders possible they use of Chaos Group's V-Ray. They out put to the feature-film industry standard OpenEXR file format, which provides greater colour-depth for compositing and colour grading. but deliver in whatever format required, (ie: Apple Pro Res).
The Foundry's Nuke is the tool of choice for compositing, which has rapidly become the feature film industry's tool of choice. For motion graphics they use Adobe After Effects, with a large collection of plug-ins and effects. They also use Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator, Apple Final Cut Pro where some editing is needed. Occasionally liquid simulation software, Realflow is used. Broadcast deliverables are all graded and checked on a calibrated broadcast monitor before delivery.
To learn more about Redboat visit www.redboat.com.au
Q&A with Adrian King
What type of hardware set up do you have running all these applications, eg. backing up, workstations, shared storage?
We run everything on Apple Macs, but sometimes use Windows on Mac with Parallels if the software or plugin is Windows only. We have a Mac server to centralise all our project data, with a rack of Thunderbolt RAID drives, for speed and security. Every workstation and the server each run Apple’s Time-Machine with an external drive attached to each, so that if any system drive fails, we can rapidly rebuild it exactly as it was. Projects are archived from the centralised storage after 1 month to portable disks although soon we expect to be using solid state drives for this once prices are lower.
An example of your favorite features of After Effects that are used in Redboat’s work.
Whilst Redboat is well known for 3d animation, we’ve done a large amount of kinetic text motion graphics. One of the great features in After Effects we’ve used for kinetic text is the built customisable Animation Presets. We’ve found them brilliant for building complex text based animations. For example the Hyundai promos at both these links: hyundai-smart-hatch and hyundai-coupe.
An example of favorite features of Maya which you use in a lot of your work
Wow, that’s hard. I’ve been working with Maya since version 1.0, and there’s a lot of great tools to work with that keep getting better each version. I am a fan of using expressions, relationships between 3d elements in order to add subtle details. The scripting languages in Maya provide a great deal of freedom to build complex relationships, dependencies and functions that can add a great deal of subtle detail which helps sell a shot. Functions such as jiggle and soft bodies also help immensely too.
Also is there any new features of the latest Maya 2013 that are particularly useful for you work?
The new Node Editor is brilliant. So much easier to make/edit connections, see the hidden relationships between elements. I missed the old Wavefront IPR shader editor, and this has brought many of those features and more to Maya. I’m also looking forward to using the Alembic Caching as this will make it a lot easier for us to share work between different applications.
Why did you decide to go with Digistor?
I made enquires with a couple of other suppliers at the time. The turn-around time and level of sales support from all of them was way to slow. Digistor was on the ball, getting back to me really fast every time with the information I needed, providing a really pro-active service. They’ve maintained that ever since too. I really appreciate this, since my enquiries are often either mission critical, or require a rapid turnaround.
How do you see Redboat developing in the future? – Projects, Technology, Structure
I like to keep Redboat flexible with a minimal infrastructure. I’ve previously built a post post-production business where we constantly re-invested in infrastructure and it was a hungry beast. I have learned to invest in new gear and equipment when a new project warrants it, but not before. Monthly software licenses are very attractive for us and being small business and it’s important for us not to have equipment sitting around going out of date between the larger projects.
I’m a big fan of remote work and have developed systems to enable me to scale up my team by with remote artists very rapidly. Remote collaboration tools and remote access to our centralized storage, make it almost as if we’re all under the same roof.
I have been asked to be involved in VFX production for a couple of feature film projects, so future gear might include some more high-end equipment to help with that, but it’s early days so far. Cloud based render-farms might come into the picture too. I definitely see us sticking with Maya, V-Ray, Nuke and After Effects, adding licenses when needed. I prefer Apple hardware, as we can run both OS X and Windows on them, and I find them much more stable, and easier to network and administrate.
Any interesting projects going on in 2013?
I’m working with Meta, a New York technology startup developing Augmented Reality glasses. Unlike Google’s famous ‘glass project’, our glasses have full stereo 3D, with gestural hand-tracking. I’m very excited about the future of this type of technology as it will mean that 3d designers will be able to get away from the desk and monitor, walk around their work as they sculpt, texture or animate, and interact with their bare hands.
We’re creating a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding so that we can get the prototype into the hands of developers all around the world to get started developing their own applications for it. The Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to go live mid-March 2013. I imagine we'll see 3d animation software such as Autodesk's Maya working with next generation of our Meta glasses! I look forward to that. Very cutting edge, very cool. You can find out more about it at: www.meta-view.com