Over the past few months, almost everyone has experienced a change in their way of work. Everyone has been practically, emotionally been dependent on technology to squeeze out productivity as everyone worked from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this period has opened up a realm of possibilities in the world of remote working especially for the industry where work from home possibility was a rare example, the visual effects industry. The reasons behind it are many of which rendering heavy files, technological setup, brainstorming for ongoing projects are crucial are the biggest challenge.
Surprisingly Escape Technology in partnership with HP, has rolled out the report “Going Remote” which shares that in VFX industry 55 per cent can sustain remote working style for eight months to a year after practicing work remotely.
Here are the few metrics that report has come up with:
Before Covid-19, 46 per cent of the VFX Industry revealed they did not have a work from home policy or technology in place.
A symptom of this is perhaps the fact that 34 per cent stated that one of the biggest barriers they felt to working remotely was the technology setup.
55 per cent of our research respondents commented that they could now sustain this style of remote working for eight months to a year, showcasing how this has been embraced quickly from the top.
30per cent of respondents found communication would be a barrier when working from home. Supporting this sentiment is the fact that 87per cent of VFX industry workers said that during this crisis their leadership team have heavily encouraged, supported, and facilitated remote working. While we have been forced into this situation due to extreme circumstances it has proven that remote working does work.
However, long-term due to the human connection that the office provides, 48 percent state that although working from home is now more desirable they would rather work from the office where possible.
Only 16 percent of the respondent found productivity as a barrier while working from home.
If the technology setup isn’t strong enough, it is going to make that leap of remote working harder for businesses. In a people-focused industry, with studios across London, the UK and wider locations working on numerous productions, this is no small feat. With these issues setting the backdrop for the remote working debate before Covid-19, naturally to get businesses set up quickly for a move all on one day was going to be difficult.
Independent visual content studio Coffee and TV CEO Derek Moore comments on this, “We’ve always had a bigger footprint in the size of the company than our physical space in Soho, we have clients connecting from all over the world, and the country. The biggest change was when everyone had to work from home all at the same time on the same day.”
This was a similar experience for Cambridge-based visual effects studio, Vine FX, VFX supervisor and owner Michael Illingworth who added, “We have quite a few artists who have set up at home or work remotely, in Bulgaria, France, Greece, London, using PCoIP technology we were able to get them working on machines as if they were in our office.”
Data security while working from home
With data security and having a secure technology pipeline being the biggest barrier to working from home, this was an issue many studios had to address first – reviewing their ecosystems and determining what would work fast and securely to enable everyone to work from home effectively. Understanding that Escape Technology believes there are two key routes:
The first is the VPN which is a common route used by many during this crisis. There are many affordable VPN providers which help to ease the workflow remotely. This provides a secure connection from a remote machine to your company The downside here is that the size of files you are trying to load over your home internet connection can be limited. Downloads can take some time to complete and from a security standpoint this method fails as data from your pipeline is being distributed. Therefore your internet connection becomes an issue.
Second is not to touch data and move the smallest amount of information: the pixels of the screen, streamed to your home, but with a mouse and a keyboard attached which means that no data actually leaves the office. The remote device is only decoding an encrypted stream of pixels and, therefore, you could do this on any cheap computer instead of investing in newer hardware. In VFX there are major concerns about working remotely due to high-security projects and NDAs.Due to the lack of experience in the industry for broader remote working, or barriers to letting employees have that access, there is an absence of education when it comes to this type of setup. The process of sharing pixels – and not data – means that a remote setup will mirror ‘at work’ screens, but will not allow users to download projects or files.
What is the future?
Sticking to the traditional term on working at the designated desk in office place can be a problem during the time of crisis. Evolving with the incorporation of technological innovation should be the key to be it communication or data security.
As the industry is going through tough times Territory Studio system engineer Alan Puah from says, “It’s difficult to say. Businesses will come out of this with different experiences, and that will determine how they change their processes and policies. I’m hopeful and optimistic that things will change for the better so that businesses are not only able to better protect their own interests, but that of their employees.”
London based One of Us co-director Dominic Parker adds, “We see that an exciting possibility has opened up. At the same time, we don’t want to lose the value of direct human interaction. Creative collaboration is the most exciting aspect of our job, and we still believe that the crux of this is in a shared physical space. At the same time, there are many tasks that do not require this. We are going to have to find the right balance. But how exciting that this option is opening up.”