Tim LeDoux

Last year, one of our VFX artists became a mom. She didn’t want to stop working, but between the commute, childcare, and the hours, it was going to be difficult to hold both jobs. It just didn’t add up. “Can I work from home?” she asked. Necessity.

We’ve been dipping our toe into work from home for a few years now. It started with IT workers who provide a necessary service and require availability 24/7. Later, a few supervisors got in the mix; company leaders who always need access and do whatever it takes to see projects through. When vital employees moved away, spouses got new jobs in distant locations, we had a solution. Necessity.

The home office is a secure location, secluded and under access control. Instead of sending files, we stream video data from office workstations into the homes of our employees. This increases file security and lessens the burden on the home user, and is a simple model to replicate on a mass scale. It can work.

Late at night, sometimes on weekends, I noticed someone rendering on our farm — it was our two-job VFX mom. She wasn’t with us in the office, but her work was still the same. She communicated, got her shots done, and was as well-trusted as anyone working on-site. It works.

Last month a paranoid (cautious) IT admin drove rather than flew across the country, coast to coast, for a face-to-face meeting. He was worried about coronavirus, worried about what it could do to us, worried about our business.

The news broke: lockdown. This was the moment we had done our best to prepare for. In a matter of days, artists packed up their desks, took their monitors and their remote hardware, a zero client and a VPN device, plugged them in and logged in safely at home. Every desk is empty, but the office is still alive. Necessity.

The world of visual effects is one of constant adaptation. The tools grow, the demands grow, and with every problem solved a new larger one comes to take its place. Our world has changed quickly and forced a necessary change., What was once approved for only a few is now required for everyone. We are home, we are safe, working, and it may never be the way it was.

Tim LeDoux, Crafty Apes Co-Founder & VFX Supervisor