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Buyer’s Guide: Thinkbox Software Tools Power Flexible Workflows

When I joined Pixomondo’s Baton Rouge office a few years ago, the studio was already using Thinkbox’s Deadline for render management. I quickly discovered that the fundamental principles that made Deadline so powerful also applied to Thinkbox’s more artist-centric plug-ins such as Krakatoa for high-volume particle rendering, Frost for particle meshing and XMesh for geometry caching.

Krakatoa is multithreaded, so it’s super fast. I had to create lightning for a recent project, so I used a combination of Krakatoa, Frost and XMesh in Autodesk 3ds Max. Krakatoa allowed me to manipulate particles quickly. Then I meshed the particles with Frost and used XMesh to condense the file without compressing it. This allowed me to load it into Deadline faster and then share the file with our other worldwide facilities collaborating on the effort. Even when the client requested frequent changes to the complex shot, adjustments were relatively painless because of our setup.

I’ve been very impressed by both the speed and reliability of Krakatoa and Thinkbox’s other tools and continue to be amazed by the flexibility they give us during production. I never have to worry that my work can’t be edited; I can always revisit a file and manipulate it further with the proper data. Plus, the option to load only select portions of a scene is tremendously helpful when working with heavy files. Instead of spending time waiting on all the information to load, I can pull up what I need—saving production time, money and my own sanity in the long run.

Freelance VFX artist Michael Stark has worked for Pixomondo on several feature films including Star Trek: Into Darkness and Beautiful Creatures, as well as the HBO series Game of Thrones.