One of the newest studios in the competitive field of high-end visual effects, Artemple, opened in Culver City, California in 2014. The company’s specialty is creating aesthetically breathtaking and technically complex 2.5D and 3D environments that augment the storytelling process. Its services include on-set supervision, visual effects design and concept art, CG environments, matte paintings, set extensions and other intricate effects. Artemple is led by former ILM and Digital Domain alumni Wei Zheng, who earned a Visual Effects Society Award nomination in 2007 for his work on the David Fincher film Zodiac.
When Zheng was making plans to launch the company in 2013, he turned to GPL Technologies for managed services support. GPL engineers worked with Zheng and his production team to design a complete IT infrastructure encompassing artists’ workstations, centralized storage, a render farm, networking and other functions.
“When you’re building a company, conventional wisdom says that the first thing to do is to hire an engineer, an IT specialist and a software specialist,” Zheng says. “GPL offered an alternative. By outsourcing our IT with them, we lowered our overhead costs. We also got the benefit of a team of engineers working in our behalf, rather than one or two individuals. It gave us access to a wider range of expertise.” Artemple’s pipeline supports 35 to 65 artists, depending on production needs. It features scalable EMC Isilon network attached storage, with Supermicro servers for back-up and ftrack software for project management and collaboration. Artist software includes 3ds Max, Maya Photoshop, AfterEffects and Nuke. A typical artist’s workstation is a Dell Precision T5610. “We get great feedback from artists who work here,” Zheng notes. “They always comment on how insanely fast our machines are.”
The pipeline was put to the maximum test right from the start. The company’s first project was a blockbuster feature for a major studio that was produced in 6K 24fps. Managing thousands of 6K (6144 x 3160) data files would have been overwhelming for many VFX houses, but Artemple handled it with ease. “It went through our pipeline very smoothly. It was fantastic,” recalls Zheng. “It made me very confident in the capabilities of our facility. Since then, the pipeline has proven itself over several productions. It’s painless. We may be the new kids on the block, but we can compete with anyone.”
Artemple continues to rely on GPL’s managed services team for ongoing technical support. The engineers handle everything from systems monitoring and upgrades to troubleshooting. “If an issue arises, we fill out a service ticket and an engineer begins working on the problem right away,” Zheng says. “They are very reliable and always there when we need them. That helps me sleep better at night.”
GPL is not a typical service company, says Zheng. “They function like a partner. They give us great advice on products and technology solutions, right down to the cabling and network settings. They are a vital part of our team.”