Apple has some GREAT news for creative professionals.

iMac Pro hero.jpg

Praise be! The cool kid in school hasn’t forgotten about us.Apple's new iMac Pro is targeted right at creative professionals in the media & entertainment industry. The product’s introductory release statement reads that this product is for “everyone”: “From video editors to 3d animators to musicians to software developers to scientists” everyone can find something that relates to their industry or passion in the iMac Pro.

Let’s take some time to examine the specs: The iMac Pro offers a XEON CPU with up to 18 cores that clock up to 4.5GHz. Apple is utilizing AMD's Radeon VEGA Pro GPUs. Once software manufacturers adapt their applications to these GPUs, you will have a graphics card capable of 22-25 Teraflops of computing speed (really fast) compared to the wonderful GTX 1080TI which tops out at 11 Teraflops. Radeon has an architecture that's way ahead of where Nvidia is right now. We predict a GPU war is brewing as we speak. This also supports our contention that GPU rendering is truly the future in visual effects and digital media production.

The Mac is also no longer a sealed box. Apple dropped the Metal 2 SDK to allow developers take advantage of external AMD GPUs using the latest Thunderbolt 3 interface. That is 40Gb speeds you'll be getting! Apple's change will affect the current Mac lineup as they will be able to use upgraded GPUs now, with Nvidia’s new drivers, Macs will allow users to add external GTX cards like the 1080 and when the new AMD GPU ships, there will be drivers to support them too.

Expect that the new AMD graphics cards will also benefit the PC world as soon as drivers become available for Windows.

How long have creative professionals shook our heads in unison and thought to ourselves that Apple no longer cares about us? They still do, and VFX Technologies has the new iMac Pro workstations available for rental and purchase now.

Jim Reisman & Adinah Bolden

Staying Healthy and Sane in this Crazy Business

Computer Health_500x.png

Artists that work in post-production and visual effects work insanely hard, dealing with complex software, demanding Producers, and impossible deadlines. Where I work, we have four wall edit bays and the building is accessible 24/7 and I have been in the office late and over the weekend and so often, people are here, working away on their projects. There is also the arduousness of the work combined with having to wait for frame after frame to render so they can see what they've done.

I've noticed that many of our clients tend to stay on and near their computers, watching videos, browsing the web, and reading email and social media. Do you do this? You're not treating yourself very well. I'm making two recommendations, one technical and the other is physical.

The technical side of this is, use the best technology you can afford, and if you can't afford to buy the best, you can rent it. There is no reason why you should try to work on an underpowered computer, The computer that works perfectly for you 250 days out of the year does not have to be the one you work on when there's a massive amount of data processing to be done. You can get an $8,000 to $20,000 workstation, Mac or PC, to work on for a few hundred dollars a week and blow through your project significantly faster.

Computers process your data through the processor (CPU) and the Graphics card (GPU). Different software uses these two components in different ways based on how they wrote the program. Find out if the software you prefer works best with a particular CPU or GPU. You can easily find this out by Googling "(Application name) system requirements". Or you can contact my company, and we will be happy to make a recommendation.

To keep yourself in the best state of mind and body while working, the best advice I can share is the simplest. Breathe and Move! The best way to relieve stress is to breathe deep. Breathe out with a moan or a grunt; it makes a difference. Get up from your desk often, like every 15 minutes and just walk around the room. Set a timer on your phone if you must. Every 30 minutes, put your head down and close your eyes. Invest in good glasses if you need them and talk to your optometrist. Tell him or her you work many hours in front of a monitor so the doctor can make the right suggestion for you. Drink water. Even if you drink other beverages, drink water too. Keep yourself hydrated and having to pee several times a day will be good for you as well. By the way, don't hold it in!

A good idea is an adjustable desk that goes from sitting to standing. These stands are surprisingly affordable and can make your work time so much better. Buy the best chair you can. Creating on a computer is your vocation, and you'll be using these tools for a long time.

Exercise your arms and hands throughout the day. Keep your fingers nimble. Here's a tip. Hold your arms out straight in front of you. Lift up your hands at 90 degrees, and spread your fingers. Hold for five seconds, lower, and relax. Then clench your fists, and lower your wrists at 90 degrees. Hold for five seconds, straighten, and relax. Do this several times a day. Again I suggest, set a timer on your phone.

Assess the lighting in your workspace. Try not to work under fluorescent bulbs as they imperceptibly yet continuously flicker. Put a halogen or LED lamp in the room whose intensity can be adjusted and make it a little brighter than the light coming off your monitor.

If you insist on having another screen to watch while you're not doing the physical work, don't glance at it off to the side. Turn and view it in a comfortable position, and so it is at the right angle to minimize eyestrain. The conventional wisdom about positioning a monitor is, the top of your computer screen should be level with your eyes, so you’re only looking down about 10 degrees to view the screen.

There are plenty of articles on the Internet about best practices for those who look at displays for hours on end. Lots of advice, some good, some ridiculous. What I emphasize is to remain comfortable and relaxed. Take care of yourself because this business can be brutal at times. Let me ask, what are your recommendations for keeping yourself feeling good at work?

- Jim Reisman

Get to know the VFX Technology team. Meet Sarote Tabcum Jr.

I have worked as a VFX Producer for music videos, commercials, and feature films. It is a very stressful but fulfilling job, and the experience has given me first-hand knowledge of exactly what a VFX Producer needs, helping me serve them better with VFX Technologies. Let me tell you why.

A VFX Producer has to deal with variables that can only be controlled up to a point. There are the client's concerns which are the result, the deadline, and the budget. Then there is the artist who tells you what he or she thinks they can and cannot do, and you have to get them on the same page as the client. The VFX Producer's challenge is to handle compromise, and the human aspect is the hardest to control.

Sarote Tabcum at CM 11-17-16.jpg

You can maintain control of your technical systems. If equipment is rock solid and running, this greatly minimizes stress for a VFX Producer. Once your hardware is in place, you can deal with the rest of the job – a lot of which has to do with pushing and pulling to get things done.

VFX Producers concentrate on getting projects in the door and finding the best talent. Making sure you have the right technology in place is also very important. There is no need for your hardware to be problematic. If you know what software you're using and have properly configured equipment, you will have no problems. At times the job grows so fast, you have to bring in more artists and gear. It's helpful to know the technical aspects of the systems and equipment. This way you can get what you need, and it will integrate into the workflow seamlessly.

The way things work out in our business, you are not going to know you need additional resources until the last minute. Scenarios like this are what inspired me to start VFX Technologies. Through my company, I can be a resource for VFX producers to come to for technical solutions unique to post-production workflows. I keep equipment readily available for when you need more capacity. My team stays up to date on emerging technologies and get a broad view of what challenges are happening in many different post facilities.

Being able to anticipate problems before they occur is helpful. For example, you have a team of 10 people for a project. Experience tells you that towards the end of it, when you need to deliver, you may need to ramp up to 50 people to finish the job. For 40 more people, you’ll need 40 workstations, a storage server to accommodate them and more bandwidth. Where can you get all of that equipment? Again this is the opportunity I saw which led me to create VFX Technologies.

As a technology provider, I see this happen all the time. Projects begin with lots of optimism that the budget and the schedule are well crafted. You’re weeks in, and you need more people, more gear, and, if you could, more time.

What I created is a place you can contact, and my company will deliver reliable hardware that's optimal for the project you're doing.  Like our many clients that rely on us to deploy quickly, our rapid response when you need us is my highest priority.