Inside Tangent Labs’ new cloud-based 3D asset management and production tool.
A new tool now available for production and asset management is Tangent Labs’ LoUPE. It’s cloud-based and recently went live in the AWS Marketplace. LoUPE effectively offers an interface to aid in 3D content creation, and it came directly out of a real production—Tangent Animation’s animated Netflix film, Next Gen.
Here, Tangent Labs CEO Jeff Bell breaks down how LoUPE works, what it means for artists in the pipeline, and where the name came from.
b&a: If you had to sum up what LoUPE can offer CG/animation/VFX studios, what would you say?
Jeff Bell: LoUPE offers studios the ability to get a production up and running in a fraction of the time normally required and focus on telling better stories. The usual requirement of stitching together disparate tools is avoided due to LoUPE’s fully integrated components available right out of the box, particularly our Asset Management. LoUPE’s API is fully available for you to customize so your technical team can instead focus on the differentiators that your studio puts onto the screen. LoUPE also offers an efficient transition path to the cloud, allowing you to maximize your on-prem resources, augment your rendering in the cloud when required, and transition your render workload to the cloud as on-prem resources near end of life.
b&a: Before Tangent used LoUPE, what kind of project management and workflow approach was in use? How did LoUPE take over that approach?
Jeff Bell: Like most legacy production pipelines, we all came up through studios that used an assortment of disparate tools as mentioned in your previous question. This would have been a combination of commercial applications and ‘home-grown’ IP for things like Asset Management. Using these different tools shifted the focus away from the creative and more onto the technology, and then the story is no longer the focus. The core of LoUPE is the Asset Manager, which was developed during the making of Netflix’s ‘NextGen’. We took that component and complimented it with the other required elements including project management, review & collaboration, real-time reporting & analytics, and a modern UI to form the foundation of LoUPE.
b&a: Specifically in relation to the cloud and AWS, how does LoUPE allow for cloud-based workflow and cloud rendering and asset management?
Jeff Bell: The primary technology behind the Asset Management in LoUPE is a component called the “Transit Manager” – this technology creates a data transfer queue that manages multiple storage end-points, including local storage servers, workstations, and AWS S3 storage, ensuring that all data is kept synchronized between multiple locations.
By ensuring that data is always available on Amazon’s AWS S3 storage, this enables a very quick and easy path to rendering in the Cloud, managed by AWS Thinkbox’s Deadline render queue.
The goal: synchronize work performed by artists in studio facilities that can be spread across multiple geo-locations, with full support for integrating remote artists into the workflow and providing incredible flexibility in planning projects. It’s important to note that we also enable workflows for individual artists, small groups of artists collaborating, small studios, and large studios. In our opinion, the progression from one to the other should be seamless, to enable organic growth of creative teams.
b&a: Can you give me some examples of how end artists or production crew interface with LoUPE during a production?
Jeff Bell: Some typical workflows for Artists and Production Management in their daily interactions with LoUPE would include:
– Versioned Media, Asset, and Shot data transfer from digital content creation packages to the Cloud via LoUPE’s Asset Management plugins for Blender and Maya. This generally forms the largest share of interaction for Artists as they version their work and upload imagery and movie data for review
– Artists will also receive tasks entered into LoUPE by Production Management, and have the ability to interact with those tasks in their own personal Kanban board in a clear and concise manner
– Production Management reviews media with Artists and the Director or other Supervisors and generates notes and tasks, live from within the review session. Review sessions can also be virtual with artists, production staff, and the Director or Supervisors in disparate locations, as LoUPE’s
– Review tool enables multiple live sessions in a web browser, each with the ability to drive synchronized playback, create sketches on imagery and movie files, and create notes and tasks visible to all in the session
– Production Management has the ability to generate web-based reports, or to create more sophisticated reports via connectors for Excel and Google Sheets that are live, enabling much more complex production reporting and dashboards
b&a: How did LoUPE get its unusual name?
Jeff Bell: The name is derived from a jeweler’s LoUPE, a device they use for detailed and close-up work. The thought behind our naming is that LoUPE enables a closer and more detailed view of your production assets and tasks needing to be managed in order to successfully complete an animated production. Of course the draw of being ‘in the LoUPE’ was too much for our marketing team to resist, and lastly, the ‘ou’ spelling is a subtle nod to our being a proudly Canadian company.