While the shift to remote work may not have upended animation in the same way as it did physical production, it has still brought on some unique challenges for teams.
Whether it’s the shift out of a physical studio and into a work-from-home structure or the onboarding of team members in different time zones, your whole team has had to learn new technical skills and how to adjust to a global schedule.
We’ve selected some of the most common remote workflow challenges that remote animation teams face during virtual production for movies, live-action productions, and other projects, and how to handle them like a pro.
Challenge #1: New Equipment Requirements
Most animators likely already have the equipment to build storyboards and create motion graphics, but they may not be fully equipped to handle the additional challenges that remote work presents.
For a remote animation workflow to be successful, each team member must have adequate equipment for viewing and transferring large files, listening to high-quality audio, and otherwise communicating with the other members of the team, ideally on video calls.
For this to be possible, you need to ensure that every member of your team, from animators to project supervisors, is properly equipped with a set of remote work equipment to be able to collaborate freely and easily in their home-based animation studio.
We recommend that every member of the team have, at the bare minimum:
- High-quality (preferably over-ear) headphones that allow them to hear the finer details in audio files
- An HD webcam for video conferencing
- A computer or laptop with enough memory and graphics capabilities to stream 4K video
- An ethernet cable and, if needed, an adapter to allow them to hard-wire directly into their router or modem for maximum bandwidth
- A high-quality USB or headset microphone
These tools are vital to their home setup because communication between team members is something many of us take for granted when sharing physical space.
However, once your team moves fully remote, you need to ensure you can be seen and heard during meetings to get the same kind of seamless communication flow that you’re used to having in the office or studio.
Challenge #2: File sharing
Remote collaboration requires sharing lots of files, many of them massive. To ensure that your animation team can quickly and easily share files of varying sizes, you’re going to need to look into some file sharing programs.
For basic document exchange, cloud-based programs like Dropbox have the security and ease of use to work just fine. But when it comes to video and audio files, things get much more complicated.
You’ll need to keep these files secure while also allowing access to them by the people that need them.
You can utilize standard cloud-based file transfer systems like Google Drive and Dropbox, but will likely run into transfer speed bottlenecks and storage limits.
We recommend investing in a high-speed file transfer service like MASV, which will allow you to transfer large quickly and securely. This will enable you to share large assets without delays, which is vital for keeping a team on-track.
Create together remotely, in real time
Challenge #3: Managing deliverables across all team members
Keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring all elements of the creation process are in progress and on time is one of the most difficult challenges in animation.
Adding in physical separation makes this process even harder, as project managers have to break through even more communication barriers to get status updates on different elements of the project.
Thankfully, project management software is vastly improving to meet the needs of creative teams that work on large, multi-layered projects through an internet connection. These programs allow everyone to see exactly what is being worked on, who is working on it, and when it is expected to be delivered.
Some of our favorites include:
These allow you to organize your project into specific tasks and assign those tasks to different team members while giving the project manager an easy-to-navigate overview of all the moving pieces.
But organizing your team is only half the battle. The real magic of working on an animation team is the new ideas that develop when everyone works in perfect sync, which can be incredibly difficult when working from a distance.
This brings us to our last and most important challenge facing remote animation post-production workflows:
Challenge #4: The ability to collaborate in real-time
There is no replacement for working together in real-time during the post-production process, and that’s what brings this challenge to the number one spot.
Real collaboration happens when you’re able to gather together and review ideas and new work with free-flowing discussion. In the studio, a simple meeting invite will allow this to happen. However, in the remote world, it’s not quite that simple.
From lag to file-transfer issues to inadequate tools for note-taking, trying to bring a team together online is a constant battle against the ones and zeroes as we try to make collaboration tools for businesses work for creatives.
Depending on the internet speeds at both the source of the edit and the people attempting to watch, there can be huge lags that affect both the quality and the speed of the images each person sees.
Plus, making notes can be a huge pain. There are difficulties displaying timecodes, no seamless ways for people to make notes specific to certain frames, and altogether, when you try to collaborate through most third-party platforms like Google Teams or Zoom, they’re just not built to support the demands of animation teams trying to share large HD assets.
Thankfully, there is a solution.
Evercast is a remote collaboration platform specifically designed for creative teams. It allows you to stream any workstation in full HD while video chatting and making notes with their other remote team members, all under one seamless platform.
Working with a purpose-built platform for creative collaboration makes all the difference when you’re looking to recreate that authentic feel of working together in the studio.
It prioritizes low-latency streaming, so everyone is watching the same thing simultaneously, as it was intended. It allows team members to make notes attached to specific timestamps in the video, saving you time hunting down the exact moment to make a change.
Most importantly, it allows you to look each other in the eye as you collaborate and see people’s reactions in real-time, an important and often overlooked part of the creative process. And being able to do it all under one platform that works seamlessly with whatever editing software you use makes it the perfect remote video editing ecosystem.
The transition to a remote post-production workflow can be a challenge; however, it doesn’t have to stifle the creativity you depend on to create animation magic with the right tools and the right team.