Deep in the heart of Glendale, California, Renegade Animation is home to some of the world’s most talented artists. The studio’s strengths lie in personality-based character animation combined with a strong use of design, achieving a traditional look with non-traditional tools. These skills have been profiled on six seasons of Tom and Jerry produced for Warner Bros that were respectful to the classic Hanna Barbera cartoons of the late 1940s and early ‘50s. The team also parlayed this into two Tom & Jerry features for HBO Max, animated shorts for Sesame Workshop, and feature production for Sony Pictures Animation.
Balancing growth with hybrid workflows
“We’re fortunate to be living through an amazing time for animation right now driven by streaming services,” says Michael D’Ambrosio, editorial department manager and lead editor at Renegade Animation. “We were much more fortunate than the live-action end of the industry. Live action was shut down during the early stages of the pandemic while all aspects of animation production were able to continue but with that, came challenges. Basically, it was trial by fire. We had to figure out a way to work remotely more efficiently, and that’s where tools like ClearView Flex became critical.”
Emerging from lockdowns earlier this year, Renegade is now a hybrid studio with just a handful of artists in the office at any time. To make this move permanent they switched their existing streaming review and approval to Sohonet ClearView Flex.
“We were using another product which did the job – up to a point,” D’Ambrosio explains. “It was sub par for us with connectivity and latency issues. There was a high level of frustration level, particularly with issues of sync.”
This came to a head at the end of last year when Renegade was working on a Tom and Jerry feature for HBO Max.
Switching remote streaming solutions for rock-solid performance
“The film involved musical numbers. I cut one of them and was quite happy with it. I invited the director, Darrell VanCitters, into the office for review. To my horror, when we played it back, the sequence was out of sync by 2, 3 or 4 frames. It was missing downbeats and some impacts. This is slapstick. This is Tom and Jerry – so you notice this immediately. Tom is getting walloped, and Jerry is scooting around and we’re missing all these beats timed with the music.
“I was scratching my head – did I really cut it this way? I had to send the director away and knew it would take me some time to trim the scene the way it should be.
“Then it dawned on me that maybe this had happened because I’d cut it remotely. That was confirmed when I checked another scene, also cut remotely, which again had frames out of sync.
“The whole experience led us to think enough is enough. We needed to change our remote streaming service.”
Renegade researched the market, talked with peers, and selected ClearView. “We immediately saw a difference,” reports D’Ambrosio. “It performed at a much better level for our needs and essentially gave us the confidence to finish at home.”
When it comes to performance, ClearView solved one of the bugbears that the team experienced when working remotely with previous software. “In order to work without latency or freezes the other product needed to be hard wired. But that wasn’t possible for our director working at home. ClearView connects over WiFi to a laptop without any dropout. That right there is a huge advantage.”
Capturing the magic of in-person creativity
D’Ambrosio also appreciates that ClearView Flex separates video conference calling from the AV stream. “It gives you the flexibility to use Zoom or Teams or another video communications tool while giving you a higher quality representation of what your work is looking like. It means the director feels more confident, as an editor I feel more confident, and all round the work is better.”
Another bonus was its ease of set up. “There is hardware involved but this is a positive since hardware is usually more stable than a pure software product. And it literally was plug-and-play. I was up and running in ten minutes, tops. It couldn’t have been easier.”
He adds, “Those are the advantages that convinced us to switch to ClearView and why we’re going to stick with it.”
Renegade has one ClearView Flex module but says it will buy another as projects scale up for additional editors and assists.
“Of course, nothing beats having social interaction with others in the same room. That is still missing in any form of video calling. But since we have now become a hybrid home/office studio, in order to maintain this workflow without experiencing connectivity or latency issues, then ClearView does a much, much better job.”
ClearView Flex provides creators and storytellers with a real-time creative review and remote collaboration service, now in HDR. Click the button below to book demo