“We Cannot Imagine Our Workflow Without BOXX by Our Side.”
Tell me about Elara Systems and the types of projects you’re involved with.
We’re a digital media content provider with over eighteen years of experience in the 3D animation realm. Elara is a strategic creative agency that specializes in understanding and executing engaging, innovative solutions and digital content for training, trade shows, education, sales, and marketing materials. We work closely with our clients to fit them with the digital content that best fits their needs; be it 3D animation, illustrations, or virtual reality.
Take me through your creative process.
We find that most of our success comes from how closely we work alongside our partners and clients, offering them a window into our process at every step of a project’s development. Writing scripts, storyboarding, previsualization, rendering, and pre-compositing are all integral parts of how we keep our visions aligned. Communication is the name of the game for us here at Elara and keeping our clients close by our side helps to wrinkle out miscommunication quite early into the creative process.
While computers are involved with every step of this process, the true heavy-performance comes in at the latter half of a project’s development. Pumping out four-thousand frames is an intensive and time-consuming process. If a client comes back with even the simplest of adjustments, it could have ramifications that factor into thousands of those frames having to re-render. Having a large ‘farm’ for rendering (featuring an incredible GPU-rendering machine), has dramatically increased Elara’s ability to keep the creative team focused on their ingenuity and artistic production.
In a related question, please describe your workflow, the software applications you rely on, and the challenges your workflow presents.
Since our agency focuses on providing our clients with the perfect format to tell their narrative, our studio must have a variety of different tools on hand. Our pipelines greatly rely on compositing software, high-definition raytrace-rendering, and real-time rendering to deliver our content to the perfect platform.
As producers of countless forms of digital media, we rely heavily on a variety of different tools. Unreal Engine, Unity, Autodesk 3ds Max, V-Ray, ZBrush, and Adobe software solutions such as After Effects and Photoshop all find their way into our workflow.
Since our pipeline is so dependent on the technology that runs it, having machines that can match our demanding performance is integral. Often times, our clients supply us with computer-aided design and drafting (CAD) files. These files can be incredibly complex, and without high-end machinery, we would spend a vast amount of time dealing with extended wait periods and crashing. Technical difficulties with our technology can also halt progress by a staggering degree. If the render farm went down, or if a machine refused to boot up, that’s one less tool we have to see our project to the end of its pipeline.
Time is money, making efficiency key. A machine that chugs out a render at twice the speed is twice as valuable. A computer that doesn’t hang up on refreshing its viewport in 3ds Max is invaluable to our creativity.
Prior to BOXX, what type of systems were you using?
Elara’s roots started small, with each member responsible for building their own computers and making sure their systems could handle all of their high-intensity processes. We were rendering overnight on personal computers and found our time quickly consumed by being our own tech support. Nowadays, our company has grown into a studio that juggles dozens of high-end projects at the same time. BOXX Tech Support has become an integral and reliable part of our process, allowing us to focus on producing stunning content without the hassle of upgrading or repairing our own hardware.
How did you become aware of BOXX?
We’ve been with BOXX for fourteen years, having first met them at a booth way back at SIGGRAPH 2004. Elara was a small company that could no longer afford the time it took to service their own technology. We needed a supplier; someone who could support us with the best tech to fit our needs. BOXX offered Elara that service and more with extensive tech support and quick response times.
Which BOXX performance specialists and support techs have you worked with?
Performance Specialists Brad Jones and Dustin Leifheit are up-to-date on the latest and greatest, and will tell us if new tech is worth the expense based on our business’ use cases. It’s this kind of current, up-to-date knowledge that allows us to be the best studio we can be. Their appraisal of tech is an incredibly valuable asset for Elara and their voices carry a considerable amount of weight within our studio. Admiral Smith has provided exceptional technical guidance and support for our studio over the years. His ability to work with and alongside his customers and provide them with the direction they need is greatly appreciated. Both Admiral and Wil Kennemer are shining examples of what makes an IT department great: technical knowledge paired with support that is considerate of the company they’re helping.
Describe the experience of working on your BOXX systems.
We cannot imagine our workflow without BOXX by our side. There’s nothing worse than finding your tech malfunctioning at a critical time, be it a render farm error or motherboard failure. Before BOXX, we would have to take the time to resolve these issues on our own time. The longer our team has to struggle through technical issues, the shorter the window we have to reaching our deadlines. With BOXX, we have a direct line to dedicated support. If a graphics card goes out, all we have to do is contact BOXX. Their technical support will set us up with a fresh part through express shipping. In seconds flat, the problem is out of our hands and entrusted to a technical support team that can handle the task. They understand us, our needs, tech requirements, and goals. There’s an integrity involved in all of our dialogues… an unspoken understanding that BOXX is here to help us meet our needs. As a creative agency that strives to do the same with each of our clients, we appreciate the levels that BOXX goes to in an effort to meet our needs.
Discuss the future of your work and how you see BOXX) as being part of that future.
With each passing year, the tech industry continues to advance. As we move on to bigger and better things, we can rely on BOXX to match our stride. Measuring compatibility, offering reliable IT services, and recommending solutions. BOXX supplies us with the tech and services Elara needs to create stunning 3D. As our studio continues to grow and advance, we know BOXX will be there to keep pace with our needs.
To learn more, visit www.elarasystems.com
ELARA Runs on BOXX
A sampling of some of the BOXX products used by Elara Systems since 2004
The ideal platform for GPU-accelerated rendering, machine learning, and more, APEXX W8R features an Intel® Xeon® W processor and is configurable with up to eight professional, dual-width NVIDIA® or AMD Radeon Pro™ GPUS. The Elara system was customized with eight NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics cards.
With just a single high-performance Intel® Xeon® W processor capable of supporting four professional GPUs, APEXX W4 maximizes productivity and ROI.
For 3D design, animation, simulation, compositing, and more, renderBOXX features four individual render nodes each with dual Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors (up to 56 cores) to power the most demanding, CPU render-intensive workflows.