VAM Summit & Awards: A deep gaze at the cloud computing and rendering services of SpeedGaze

In an exclusive fireside chat with AnimationXpress founder chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, SpeedGaze CEO Upen Desai for the first time spoke in detail about the myriad benefits of their cloud computing services.

Having spent 25 years in the VFX industry, Desai has donned a number of hats ranging from compositing for 15 years to founding post production studios. Having understood the issues that plague the sphere, Desai took it upon himself to figure out simplified solutions to complex problems.

Detailing as to what spurred on the idea of founding SpeedGaze, Desai noted, “A few years back we started a studio called Bellpepper Animation. We did some wonderful work and I had the privilege of starting couple of studios. Assemblage was one of them. While I was finishing the film, I got this dire need of computing because we were finishing two feature films in a very short period of time and we started using cloud and that time Amazon was fairly settled and Google had just arrived. We also used some render farm services from China. That is when I came to realise that there is no one in India providing services like this and we had all the ingredients which are required to build a solution over here which can be efficient, cost effective and scalable.”

SpeedGaze is exemplified by the high performance computing solutions it aims to provide. Desai shares, “If you look at Amazon or Google, they are all virtualised computing platforms. What we are trying to build or focus on is high performance side of it. We started building servers around bare metal servers so the entire pipeline is managed with multiple versions of Maaya and multiple versions of Arnold or V-ray; all running simultaneously and catering to different clients with their absolutely different pipelines.”

Democratising the experience and easing the workflow, Desai shares that they have made it available across the spectrum. He shares, “So we might have a freelancer working on a very simple project to a very established studio with thousands of artists working on a very complicated pipeline, they’re all learning together.”

With their own data center situated at Mumbai that packs more than 25 thousand render farms for CPU and over 280 GPU’s, service inputs (CPU and GPU both), Speedgaze is speedily becoming a go-to site for the VFX industry.

Desai aims to provide a simplified solution where artists can focus on their creativity and leave the complex part of the process up to SpeedGaze. He explains, “We run 24/7, three shifts with I.T people putting hardware and software engineers constantly working to integrate more and more workflows and pipelines from various studios. Artists want something simple to use and they don’t want anything complicated. They are already dealing with the complicated side of MAAYA etc.”

Taking care of all-round processes ranging from uploading to rendering to automatically downloading it, Desai shares that this game-changing service can make life easier for the industry that continues to struggle with laborious render-time and the demand to show various iteration of a single shot to the filmmakers.

He asserts, “What we have built is a simple application which runs on Windows and Linux. You simply drag and drop MAAYA file on it, it analyses the file, figures out what all needs to be uploaded to the cloud for rendering and automatically uploads everything on that. Computation happens so you can fire selective frames or you can fire the entire shot based on your choice and as soon as the renders are over, the download happens automatically.”
Desai apprises that rendering was the biggest concern and waiting for two hours to download the rendered footage was a bigger concern.

Touted to have eliminated that issue, Desai shares, “Our application takes care of everything from uploading the data to computing and downloading the data back to the system. It happens with one drag and drop; and one click. The whole idea was to build a very simplified solution so studios don’t have to bother about building the pipeline on the cloud or figure out what storage to connect or how the software defines storage.”

It is a massive leap forward for the VFX industry that services like SpeedGaze alleviate that stress so artists don’t have to worry about the complex parts.