Operations Management Consultant
Pop Paper City - Aardman / Milkshake
'Tom worked with us...supporting the core team aiding the design & implementation of digital workflows & processes.  Tom has helped to form a training & support structure with 3rd party providers...as well as providing direct one to one support for the senior team.  He is a pleasure to work with and has excellent technical and creative skills that have been vital in helping to get the early phases of production moving.'
G.Hurcombe (Producer) - Pop Paper City
Overview of Render Farm
BTU Management
(Production Consultant)
For 2 years I oversaw Operations Management for Pop Paper City, a children's TV show made in partnership with Aardman Animation.  I joined during pre-production and continued for a number of months into production so I was able to resolve any teething problems and set up an ongoing support system for unforeseen future issues.

My role covered the following:

- Render farm design with BTU management, redundancy & mitigation
- Digital workflows testing with focus on file sizes, image quality and scheduling
- Set up an animation production pipeline
- Oversaw the implementation of new IT suite, network infrastructure and server
- Worked with IT support to test a variety of systems and bandwidth for remote workers
- Advised on department structure and write roles for senior team members
- Recruitment of department heads, senior team leaders and team members
- Set up an internal support system with IT company
- Organised training for animators and CG artists moving from Maya to Cinema 4D
- Supported the senior team and guided the internal processes
- troubleshot operational issues and liaised with department heads to resolve them
- Provided hands-on support to the Director helping with staff issues and changes
- Built an operational system that can be overseen by senior department heads

Even though I was not acting as a creative, I gave input into the visual look and fidelity to both the Director and Producer.  During these times I worked closely with the Head of CG to ensure the output from the render farm maintained a consistent look.  The files sizes and overall look of the show was achieved whilst preventing bottlenecks on the file server.  With one episode being delivered weekly it was essential that the animation pipeline was smooth and that the files were sent to render at the correct time in the production schedule.  Minimising bottlenecks in both the animation pipeline and with the IT infrastructure were key to meet the tight deadlines, and having the correct system installed at the outset was essential to achieving this.

The render farm setup was developed with bespoke aspects that were in relation to the limited size and construction of the space where it was located.  To ensure the space was usable and able to maintain the correct temperature, I worked with an aircon company who primarily installed aircon in small spaces, like boats.  I also worked with builders to change the layout of the internal walls to add fireproofing and soundproofing where normal.  The IT company were able to build a temperature sensor for the server that sent messages out to key team members as a fail safe in the event of overheating and file loss.

This was achieved using a variety of software and hardware venders.

Please contact me below if you would like to know more about how the server ran and what software, hardware or third parties I worked with.
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