LOS ANGELES—Shreveport, Louisiana is the home to
Moonbot Studios, a 6-old-year multimedia production studio with a knack for
creating storytelling magic. Founded by filmmakers William Joyce, Brandon
Oldenburg and Lampton Enochs, the company won an Academy Award in 2012 for the
whimsical animated short The Fantastic
Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
Currently boasting a staff of 50
artists, producers and support personnel, Moonbot has also produced
feature-quality animation for television, games, apps, branded entertainment
and a myriad of other mediums. Along the way, it’s filled its trophy rack with
four Emmys, 12 Clios, 14 Cannes Lions and five Webby Awards.
The company’s output covers a wide scope, but its work is
unified by engaging, heartfelt storytelling and impeccable execution. “One week
we may be working on a book and the next week on a film,” notes Brandon
Oldenburg, Moonbot’s Chief Creative Officer. “Every project is different, but
it all focuses on stories that appeal to the child inside us all.”

Moonbot’s team of master storytellers is empowered by an
impressive array of technology, much of it supplied by GPL Technologies. GPL
has outfitted the company with everything from artists’ workstations and
software to the scalable EMC Isilon storage units that serve as its data hub.
GPL also provides technical support and acts as technical advisor, providing
Moonbot with recommendations on technology acquisition, pipeline management and
other IT issues. “GPL have been really smart in figuring out how technology can
enable the creative process, rather than drive it,” Oldenburg says. “Their
support on the tech side allows our team to focus on daydreaming up big ideas.”
The diversity of Moonbot’s work poses a number of technical
challenges. The workflow employed on an animated film is different from that
used to create an interactive-web video. Moonbot has to be able to adapt
quickly to the demands of individual projects. 
“Flexibility is big for us,” explains Pipeline Supervisor, Brennan
Chapman. “We do 3D projects that require big render nodes, but we also do 2D
work where they aren’t necessary. Render nodes are expensive. If you use them
all the time, it makes financial sense to buy them. But for us, GPL’s rental
option is more prudent. It allows us to avoid spending money on fixed assets
that we don’t use on every project.”
Moonbot can easily add capacity, which gives them the leverage
to pursue a wide range of projects. “We work on a lot of projects that have
short time lines, and we have to be able to add resources quickly,” Lampton
Enochs, Moonbot CEO says. “We are always looking for projects that excite and
challenge our creative team. When the right opportunity comes along, we want to
be able to say, ‘yes.’ A technology partner who can help us do that is gold.”

Moonbot’s latest
project is Taking Flight, a 5-minute animated short, directed by Oldenburg,
that it has submitted for Academy Award consideration.  For that 4-month project, GPL provided the
company with a 36-node render farm that it used to process some 178,000 frames
of animation. “Using our old nodes, it might have taken as much as four hours
to render each frame; the nodes GPL provided reduced that to an hour per
frame,” Chapman recalls. “That shortened the turnaround time for iterations. It
also reduced costs as the licensing fee for the rendering software is by the
hour. We got a lot more bang for our buck.”
The ability to call on technology experts with a deep
understanding of animation and the creative process has been invaluable. “We
were racing to meet our client’s deadlines,” adds Enochs. “We needed to stick
to our schedule and meet our goals with no room for error. Without the
flexibility built into our pipeline, we wouldn’t have finished in time.”
“There are a lot of IT companies, but only GPL specializes
in the technology used in animation and visual effects,” notes Chapman. “They
are not just a tech vendor; they are a company that we can partner with. We can
ask them ‘How should we this?’ or ‘What should we do moving forward?’ That is
super helpful to us.”
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