The People’s Republic of Animation

Cinenet helps the People’s Republic of Animation reach new speeds.

An Interview with Sam White, CEO – The PRA

When award-winning content creators The People’s Republic of Animation (PRA) knew they were moving into the new Adelaide Studios last year they were eager to start using Cinenet’s fibre optic network for their offsite rendering work. A year on and PRA couldn’t be happier with the results.

The 1gbps connection was installed within Adelaide’s new state-of-the-art film and television studios located in Glenside.

Cinenet partnered with the South Australian Film Corporation, who manage the studios, to integrate a high-speed fibre optic network across its sound stages, studio facilities and offices. Through this partnership Adelaide Studios can offer film and television productions and screen media businesses world-class internet connectivity and the capability to effortlessly deliver large volumes of media assets locally or globally.

PRA is an industry respected animation studio company specialising in creating character animation for the world’s leading game developers, publishers, advertising and screen industries. They regularly move vast quantities of render data and media files offsite, either interstate or to the United States.

PRA’s CEO, Sam White spoke with Cinenet about his experience using this pipeline. “We moved into our suite at Adelaide Studios about a year ago and we were really excited about jumping onto the network and accessing incredibly fast internet. Where we really notice the big difference now is when we are working with other people plugged into Cinenet’s network like digital and post production company, Kojo who are based in Adelaide’s Kent Town.”

“Having a direct link to a premium network like Cinenet changed our workflow exponentially. Now we can upload massive files in ridiculously short times. It’s like we are literally plugged into Kojo’s servers. Cinenet just totally cut the complexity of this process. We were able to transfer about 12 gig in about 20 minutes, so that was fantastic for us.”

PRA’s games work to date includes cinematics and trailers for Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii titles such as Playstation® All Stars Battle Royale, Darksiders 2, ModNation Racers, de Blob (1 and 2), The Last Airbender, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

More recently PRA have been developing the online casual game Band Stars for Google’s Chrome Web Store, Google+ and are in development on the iOS version. Band Stars is the first game from new team Six Foot Kid, a collaboration alliance between PRA and Halfbrick. The social ‘fame-game’ is currently played by over 100,000 users and allows them to form a band, start recording and compete to top the charts against friends.

Cinenet has provided a number of workflow efficiencies to PRA’s business. Before the team were using Cinenet’s network, Sam said sometimes you could find them running around town with a drive or DVDs. A time consuming process indeed and not conducive to a company that regularly distributes large volumes of data. “Using Cinenet has made our lives easier and provided a seamless and smoother experience in the operation of our business.”

PRA has been using an online real-time reviewing software Frankie. Developed by Cospective it allows PRA to simultaneously communicate and view video content with their clients and animators who are offsite. Cinenet compliments the virtual studio model by helping media businesses like PRA process approvals faster and improve long distance collaboration.

The other big issue for PRA’s business was offsite rendering. The problem they faced was as the standard of work and technology got more sophisticated, there was a necessity to increase their computer power. Sam said “PRA continually pushes its machines to the limit and we really needed to access higher render power. We just didn’t have the space to create a server room. Plus you need a lot of capital upfront to buy the render nodes.

“Before we moved to Adelaide Studios, the team always talked about using a remote render farm but we didn’t have fast enough connection in our other studio. Now we can do this via Cinenet’s high performance network. It also means we can expand our business. Furthermore, if a third party render facility is on the Cinenet network it makes it very compelling to join. You can get speeds that are so fast it’s like accessing a server in your own building!”

On a recent project for Sony Computer Entertainment America, PRA outsourced their render nodes from IaaS provider Steam-Engine. Sam elaborates “We created a trailer for Sony to be presented at the E3 2012 conference, to announce the new All Stars Battle Royale to the press.” E3 is the world’s premier tradeshow for computer and video games.

“We created a render heavy high-res piece for them in a very short time frame so it was a very demanding workflow. We needed the extra render power which Steam-Engine provided. Using Cinenet’s network the process was seamless.” Steam-Engine are a Cinenet Cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) partner.

Sam ended the interview by saying “Cinenet was instrumental in helping us get things up and running and their team helped us to increase bandwidth at a moment’s notice when it was necessary for us to get a full service offsite. They deliver really sensational service.”