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Increase Creative Productivity with LoUPE [$]

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Jeff Bell writes:

Today Tangent Labs is excited to launch LoUPE: a new animation & VFX pipeline tool that helps artists and studios improve productivity, increase efficiency and collaborate with teams around the world. You can try it for your first month free here .

LoUPE was built For Artists, By Artists. To make Netflix’s ‘Next Gen’, Tangent Animation went all in on Blender and reallocated the resources that would have gone towards purchasing commercial software licenses into sponsorship of the Blender Foundation and the hiring of additional technical resources. Tangent developers augmented Blender to suit our production needs, including incorporating Intel’s Embree path-tracing core into Cycles. This is work that we contributed back to the community, and the many lessons learned were incorporated into the version of LoUPE available today.

LoUPE is fully integrated with Blender. Once you've installed the Blender add-on, all that’s required to get going is to start a project, configure your storage locations, and create a shot or asset. LoUPE will automatically create a .blend file associated with your entities as a starting point for each team. Checkout the file using the LoUPE asset browser inside of Blender, and it will make sure that you have everything you need to get to work. If you’ve configured the plugin to work remotely, this will mean localizing files to your hard drive, and if you’ve configured it for work at a studio location, it will look for files on that site’s shared storage. While working, you’ll save interim progress to your team’s “Sandbox”, and when you’re ready to pass something downstream, you’ll “Publish” it. Both actions automatically version-up and push files back to the cloud using LoUPE’s intelligent Transit Manager, which introspects the .blend file and uploads (or downloads when going the other way) only what doesn’t already exist at the destination.

Tangent is a big supporter of Blender as we feel that it’s the future, and our hope is that LoUPE accelerates its usage helping artists and studios tell better stories that put more on the screen. Based on extensive feedback we recognize that support for legacy projects and ‘the right tool for the job’ are highly important, so a native plug-in is available for Autodesk® Maya® at launch, with support for SideFX® Houdini, Epic Games® UnrealEd and Pixar® Universal Scene Description (USD) to follow in upcoming releases. It’s our intent that eventually all workflows will migrate to USD to enable cross DCC workflows, enabling artists to deploy whichever package best suits their project.

Here are the components that LoUPE brings together in one tool:

1. Asset Management - versioning and tracking of all digital assets.

2. Project Management - production task tracking to enable collaboration while keeping all users and data sets under central control.

3. Media Review and Collaboration – create and assign tasks right from active review session, including drag & drop playlist creation, sketching, draw overs, and note taking with no software downloads required.

4. Real-time Analytics and Reporting – view heat maps, dashboards and metrics with an OData connection to popular business productivity tools.

5. Virtual Workstations - enable teams to collaborate across offices and continents, minimizing on-premises hardware requirements.

6. Render Management - augmenting in-house rendering with powerful cloud-based capabilities through AWS Thinkbox Deadline, a hassle-free hybrid compute management toolkit.

For more information about LoUPE visit, www.tangent-labs.com or try the software directly on AWS here .

See LoUPE firsthand with two virtual product demos by Tangent Labs’ John Annis and Mike DiCarlo:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. (EST) Register here
  • Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. (EST). Register here

Asset Management: Image Attribution

About Author

Jeff Bell, CEO, Co-Founder of Tangent Labs

Jeff is one of those unique people who brings Art and Computer Science together. Part of the team that brought Alias | Wavefront’s Maya to market, Jeff has been a CG Supervisor, VFX Supervisor and Executive at IDT Entertainment and Starz Animation. Jeff was an integral contributor to memorable features including ‘Everyone’s Hero’, ‘Hoodwinked 2’, and Tim Burton’s ‘9’. Recent credits include ‘Ozzy’ and Netflix’s ‘Next Gen’, where Jeff became a trailblazer by producing the first animated feature created entirely in Open Source 3D content creation software Blender.

4 Comments

  1. I find it interesting but I have some questions regarding this.

    - Is there a self-hosted option?

    I like the idea and the concept, but in the indie version you offer 25Gb of storage, which is nothing, we have several TB of data, because even when we are super small, we work in many projects and the amount of data we generate per project is huge, it's not rare to find a project that needs 1Tb of hard drive, and also we work in several projects in parallel so it's not just 1Tb then, a self hosted option in our network could make it reasonable, but as a cloud under subscription, no matter how indie we are, is something we cannot afford, not because of money, but because of other reasons.

    - Are there Data Transfer costs and other hidden costs that are usual in AWS based systems apart from the 15$/month for indies?

    - Are the virtual Workstations costs included in the monthly subscription?

    - Is the Deadline cost included in the subscription?

    - How is the data management going?

    I mean, doe sit use SVN or some other type of versioning? How much is the over head of that system (SVN is pretty awful in that regard, you basically need the double of the real space required by a project)

    There are more questions that come to my mind, but I think these are the most important ones, I'll publish other in the future.

    Thanks!

    • robert.pringle on

      Hi Juan,

      Thanks for your interest in LoUPE! To answer your questions:

      There’s no self-hosted option for LoUPE, as LoUPE is first and foremost a cloud-based SaaS application. The intent of LoUPE is not only to enable distributed workforces, but also to ease your transition to the cloud in a controlled, deliberate manner. We recognize that change takes time and that on-prem will exist for the foreseeable future, but gaining the ability to burst your renders to the cloud in the face of tight deadlines or in an effort to provide more iterations for your team adds valuable tools to your arsenal while ‘future-proofing’ your pipeline. LoUPE enables on-premise render through our agreement with AWS Thinkbox, with on-prem Deadline licenses provided at no charge to LoUPE customers. Additionally, central data storage in the cloud provides disaster recovery as an additional benefit to our approach.

      The included storage we provide in each tier is intended to cover data created by the front end of LoUPE. As this is our first release of LoUPE we’ll be closely monitoring usage and our offering may be adjusted as we gain more insight into our customer usage patterns. Our proprietary ‘Transit Manager’ is a core feature of LoUPE, and ensures intelligent routing of your data whether it’s between workstations, your local filer, other locations, and the cloud so that you’ve always got access to the latest version. Note too: only incremental changes to data are uploaded to the cloud to minimize storage requirements

      Each tier of LoUPE has an included base level of storage and API requests, and the monthly subscription fee covers a whole host of small AWS services that you’d otherwise be billed for. After your first month free, we meter users on a pay-as-you-go basis for any of the following AWS services that you use (at AWS publicly posted prices): Deadline EC2 instances, S3 Storage and API requests above the amount included in your subscription tier, Data Transfer, RDS, and Elemental MediaConvert. You pay only for what you use, and may add or subtract users from within LoUPE at any time as your team expands and contracts.

      Virtual Workstations are not included in the monthly subscription, but are a logical compliment to LoUPE.

      Deadline license costs are included in the subscription, including both cloud and on-prem Deadline licenses.

      As for data management, we decided to use our own tracking mechanism integrated with the rest of Loupe. Version control systems are great, but there is a fair amount of overhead involved and while it is possible to integrate these systems, dependency tracking becomes cumbersome. LoUPE’s tight integration allows for more expressive relationships between tasks and asset data, along with relevant queries (e.g. what files do I need to render my shot) - we track the files and relationships, however the files themselves are stored on S3 or on your filesystem. From a file-size perspective, there is not much in the way of overhead.

      Underneath the hood, when a user wants to check in a file, they ask LoUPE where the file should go (this is configured via path templates) and the asset management code then saves the file in the designated location. This system enforces structure so that users don’t have to worry about where files should be saved and mirroring of files is automated (generally to S3)

      Files are not obfuscated, making it simpler for users to understand what is going on. We also ensure that file hierarchies are consistent amongst different data stores, so S3 object stores are very similar to those on your local windows file system so DCC packages such as Blender and Maya can simply open files directly – our tools take on the burden of tracking and file transfer, but we want customers to always have access to their data.

      We would enjoy an opportunity to speak with you directly and answer any other questions you may have, so please reach out to us at [email protected]. We hope you enjoy using LoUPE!

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