RVX visual content studio uses NICE DCV to support remote artists
RVX provides a world class, award-winning visual content studio, specializing in visual effects (VFX) by supporting artists working remotely with NICE DCV. The studio was founded in 2008 with success on over 36 film, TV, video game, music video, advertising, augmented reality, and virtual reality projects. The RVX team is distributed across multiple locations in Europe. To accommodate this remote workforce, the company uses a high-performance remote display protocol to make co-located hardware feel like the artist’s local machine. To achieve this local experience, RVX uses DCV. The RVX team has received guidance from its preferred partner, NI SP, to ensure it has the aligned architecture to meet business requirements.
DCV experience for remote users has been beyond expectations since we are having people connect from mainland Europe across the Atlantic to Iceland. When gathering feedback on our last project, the artist’s explained that this was the best they had seen so far. These artists are used to remoting to other companies in Europe, so this feedback is a bit mind blowing when you think about the distance involved. – Hörður Harðarson RVX CTO
What is NICE DCV?
DCV is a high-performance remote display protocol that provides secure access to remote workloads from Amazon Web Services (AWS). It allows creative companies and individual artists access to their specialized applications and business critical data. The required compute may reside on supported infrastructure, on-premises or in the cloud, and is accessed over varying network conditions. With DCV and Amazon EC2, customers can stream graphics-intensive applications running on accelerated compute to end users without the need for high-end client machines. The DCV streaming protocol is used by AWS managed services, such as the Amazon WorkSpaces family, Amazon Appstream 2.0, and AWS RoboMaker.
Empowering artists on HBO’s The Last of Us
RVX latest project allowed its team to bring VFX success to the hit HBO series The Last of Us. The demanding effects on this show pushed the RVX team to use all the tools available to them. By streaming the project’s required VFX applications to artists working remotely with DCV, the team was able to deliver work in a performant, secure manner. Even with great physical distances between artists and the remote high-end Linux workstations, the artists explained this was the best remote experience they have ever had.
Providing tools for artists
The highly skilled RVX VFX team has made its projects successful. To fully leverage the team’s skillsets, RVX provides a solution that gives the performance, tools, and features to set up artists working remotely for success. For hardware performance, RVX has co-located servers and file shares in a datacenter based in Iceland, with a backup to stay highly available. For tooling, artists have access to several different applications. This application portfolio includes Nuke (compositing), Maya (layout/lighting and animation), Houdini (FX), Gaffer (layout/lighting), Blender (skunkworks), and Arnold (rendering). All of these applications run on Rocky Linux 8 and are accessed via DCV. Since DCV offers a variety of client device support, the artists can access these applications from Windows, macOS, and Linux-based client devices.
Focusing on the artist experience
The RVX team provides best in-class features to delight artists. The company uses DCV’s 4K monitor support, allowing artists to use their local high-end monitor to visualize the remote machine. In addition, RVX has increased productivity by allowing artists to use multiple local monitors on their DCV stream. The team also uses DCV’s ability to stream at 60 frames-per-second, providing a more fluid experience to artists. To benefit all DCV customers, NI SP has documented configuration settings to optimize a DCV stream.
Many of the applications require a dedicated graphics card to effectively support artist interactions. DCV provides specific optimizations to support RVX’s high-end Linux workstations, such as automatically use the GPU to perform hardware-based video encoding. This allows the offload of video processing to the GPU, which performs better than software-based video encoding.
Improving security and protecting critical data
The RVX team is dispersed across Europe, so securing the artist’s connection to their business-critical data is imperative. Streaming with DCV allows a project’s private data to stay locked down within the RVX environment. Artists interact with encrypted pixels to perform their VFX duties with the protected data. This solution secures both pixels and end-user inputs by using the TLS protocol, so artist interactions are also highly protected by RVX-managed certificates.
Modernizing with growth
RVX’s projects have shown that it is able to provide VFX support across industry verticals to meet the needs of its customers. As the studio continues to grow, so will its performance needs. To adjust for this growth, RVX plans to burst into AWS using Amazon Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Amazon EC2’s on-demand pricing allows RVX to provide burst capacity on Amazon EC2 and only pay for what it uses. This also inherits all of the minimizing administrative overhead benefits that Amazon EC2 offers. This unlocks the ability to align specific Amazon EC2 instance types to their workload, providing the ability to right-size artist machines. For this burst capacity, RVX is presented with a variety of EC2 accelerated compute options, including the latest GPU activated G5 instance family. For its burst capacity, RVX will also mitigate licensing costs as DCV is free on AWS.
As RVX continues its VFX success, AWS and NI SP are there to support them every step of the way. The partnership between RVX, NI SP, and AWS not only benefits RVX, but delivers product prioritization to benefit all DCV customers. As we look to the future, we see the continued success RVX will have with its customer projects. AWS and NI SP are excited to partner with the studio and will continue to support the RVX team on their journey.