How Herne Hill used Hotspring to scale with global talent.11.5.23
Learn how VFX studio Herne Hill used Hotspring to efficiently harness a global network of VFX teams for ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’.
Founded by Dennis Berardi, Herne Hill is a Toronto-based VFX studio, trusted by filmmakers to bring their wildest visions to life. From original concept to photo-real characters and complex digital environments, the team there supports filmmakers at any stage of development. For Herne Hill, retaining primary focus on the craft of filmmaking and artistic vision is paramount.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’ marked Herne Hill’s studio debut. And what a debut; a highly anticipated and visually stunning 8-part horror anthology from a master storyteller. Herne Hill was to be responsible for overseeing the design and VFX across the entire series. As a new studio, and considering the scale and ambition of the show, Herne Hill needed to scale quickly. They also wanted to devote themselves to the series’ more complex shots as fully as possible. Their solution was to find a partner who would take care of all prep work, in addition to some simple compositing, and ensure the highest quality would be met.
Hotspring connects an approved global network of VFX teams to clients around the world. The platform has been developed to deliver work securely and make communications simple, all supported by an experienced Production team. It enables VFX work to be executed globally and efficiently – providing high end commercial, episodic and film work for artists and, for studios like Herne Hill, the ability to scale rapidly and seamlessly.
Simple, fast, competitive bidding
Even when evaluating Hotspring as a potential vendor, instead of a host of versions of data and Excel spreadsheets, Herne Hill were able to access all initial bids and information in one place, providing simplicity and more transparency around costs. In addition, because Hotspring are bidding a network of approved talent, the studio was assured of a highly competitive rate and the fastest delivery of quality work possible.
TPN assessed security
For any studio thinking of outsourcing work, security is always an important consideration. Herne Hill leveraged Hotspring’s TPN assessed secure cloud to complete all work on the project. In this set up, virtual machines were hosted within the Hotspring cloud, letting the most suitable artists collaborate on the project securely, no matter where in the world they were based.
Artistry and production expertise
Herne Hill’s Brandon Schaafsma had this to say about the company’s carefully vetted and approved global network of artists:
“The quality of the work is outstanding. We’re used to a lot of revisions with vendors but with Hotspring, the amount of times we get a version one back that is so much more than we expected is notable.”
As well as the highest level of artistry, the Hotspring platform empowers a VFX production team who between them have delivered tens of thousands of shots for Academy Award-winning films, Super Bowl spots and more, enabling them to focus on what they’re best at.
A key priority for Herne Hill was the responsiveness and availability of those producers, and the ability to track myriad changes and progress on the production. As Production Manager Adam Quattrociocchi notes:
“It was the first big project we were doing here at Herne Hill. It was very important for us that it went well. We wanted somebody we could rely on and talk to at any point in the day so that we could get the answers we needed. They’re always there, you start to recognise the names too and start building those connections, which is nice”.
That was largely down to Hotspring’s global production coverage. With producers located on the East and West coast of the US, in the UK, Europe (France) and India – working remotely doesn’t hinder progress at all. He adds:
“With Hotspring, I shoot them a message, and you hear back straight away. Usually within an hour there’s a new deadline assigned to it. I get notified as soon as there’s an update and I don’t need to be looking out for it all the time.“
Innovative tech helped to simplify and streamline collaboration throughout. Hotspring’s intuitive in-platform communication tools, like chat windows for separate tasks and team chat, available 24/7, meant that Herne Hill did away with lengthy emails and spreadsheets, spent less time and money on managing workflow and received production information as soon as it was needed. And with all chat histories readily accessible, information never got lost. Herne Hill’s Head of Production Brandon Schaafsma explains:
“Usually that history is somewhere in a bunch of emails, with a bunch of docs that were probably attached, and it can be difficult to find. But the fact we’re all in the same chat window on the same thing with the same history, it gets rid of all of that”.
Integrated and automated workflow and delivery
Workflow structure changes from show-to-show, and client-to-client, so Hotspring is versatile and adaptable in the way it works, with a growing number of features and automations that ensure a seamless process. Once Herne Hill had provided specs including folder structures and naming conventions, these processes were automated to remove human error and ensure shots were named right every time. This autonaming feature was running throughout the project. Other features available to clients include Shotgrid and Slack integrations.
“It makes it really easy for us. In minutes we can have it ingested on our side”.
Adam Quattrociocchi, Production Manager, Herne Hill