From illuminating emerging COVID-19 treatments to explaining revolutionary advancements in gene therapy, the scientific animators at Microverse Studios translate the detailed and often otherwise invisible science of biotech researchers, medical device designers, and pharmaceutical developers into vivid visuals for a diverse audience. Equal parts artist and scientist, each Microverse animator has an advanced degree in biomedical visualization and the comprehensive experience required to quickly understand the field’s complex technologies and processes, to then produce dynamic content grounded in facts. To create three-minute or longer animations end-to-end in less than two months, the small, distributed team renders on Conductor cloud platform, ensuring they have the flexibility to scale as needed, without the infrastructure overhead.
As a boutique studio, Microverse maintained a small on-site render farm until its compute resource needs outstripped on-premises capacity. By embracing cloud rendering, Microverse CEO Cameron Slayden was able to ditch his aging hardware, a depreciating asset prone to maintenance headaches and overheating. He shared, “When you rely solely on physical infrastructure, you’re limited to that capacity, and sometimes you have to forget about using the best-looking effects if you want to meet deadlines. We work on short timelines, and we can’t wait four days for a shot with computationally intensive features like blurred transparency or subsurface scattering to render. Using Conductor, we can have more than a thousand virtual computers rendering a single animation and render in an hour what would normally take a week or more locally, and never sacrifice production quality.”
Slayden discovered Conductor in early 2021 and found that it not only answered all their needs but also was more flexible and affordable than solutions they used previously. At the same time, demand for Microverse’s services continued to grow as investor’s eyes turned to biotechnology due to the pandemic. “Conductor is everything we hoped for. We have the power to quickly render incredibly complex visuals for a few dollars, and it also takes away a whole set of issues that come along with managing a farm,” said Slayden. “I don’t have to worry about running into a capacity ceiling or running multiple projects in parallel, so we can always hit our deadlines. The costs are built into each production budget, so there’s none of the painful up-front costs as would be the case in building a farm. It’s also easy to on-board artists when it’s time to expand.”
The studio’s animators typically work in Maxon Cinema 4D on local workstations and render with Redshift on Conductor. One of the first Microverse projects to use the workflow was an animation conveying a new therapy to treat COVID-19 that was developed by researchers at North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Project frames were often rendered and returned long before they were needed, avoiding down time and allowing lead animator Amanda Manowski to remain immersed in the creative process.
Based on the studio’s experience with Conductor, Slayden has become a strong proponent of the technology, especially among fellow medical illustrators and students. He concluded, “Many artists in our industry are freelancers and it just doesn’t make sense to invest a lot of money in hardware that’s only going to be useful for a limited time. Instead, Conductor allows them to scale according to workload, without the financial burden. This is also important for students, who I advocate use Conductor. It’s well-documented and easy to navigate, the customer support is top notch, and having production experience with it is a valuable skill for any type of 3D content creation career.”
Microverse Studios is a full-service production house that is dedicated to producing world-class scientific animation for the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries since establishment in 2005. They are masters of filmmaking and narrative storytelling. Visit Microverse Studio's website to find out more