Cutting Factory have recently formed a working partnership with streamablelearning.com and livelearning.ca, to offer their customers affordable access to digital animation and video services. Our team wanted to use an appropriate scene to show their clients what we are capable of producing. The scene we chose is of the Cotton Club, an old Jazz club that was opened in Harlem, New York City, in the “roaring 20’s”. Our initial tests showed us that it was going to be a time-consuming rendering process, as a single frame was taking about 2.5 hours to produce. Thus, the whole scene would have taken almost a week of working hours to finish. This was partly due to the complexity of the images in the scene and the low light setting.

However, we decided to run some more tests, and we were able to optimize the scene and lose a few aspects of the image. These chages weren’t necessary for the overall quality and were able to significantly reduce the rendering time. The final clip was only supposed to be 8 seconds long, but this task really pushed our team to be resourceful and consider what possibilities we had.

Our team have moved between different render engines from project to project, depending on the requirement. For this project, we decided to render it in-house using Arnold for Maya. This engine proved to be reliable and also provided us the flexibility we needed. The Cotton Club scene was mid production and only being used for tests when it was decided that a render was needed. Using this engine allowed us to pivot and change priority with the scene without too much trouble, and still give us an excelent outcome.

The brief for our partner only provided a narrow time scale to produce a result. Because we were given such a close deadline, we were rendering 24/7 for a few days. As too often happens, we had a computer failure in the middle of the render process and lost some valuable render time. That being said, we were able to split the remaining frames amongst our computers and still finish the clip for the deadline. Even with rigorous planning, sometimes things don’t go the way you expect them to!