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Saddington Baynes delivers for Honda with On-Prem Deadline solution


We recently checked in with the creative studio Saddington Baynes to learn how Thinkbox Deadline brings power to their projects.

As the backbone of Saddington Baynes’ rendering workflow, Deadline has ably guided the studio, helping the team make the most of its resources while juggling projects using different computing environments, while also making sure any productivity-crushing rendering errors are avoided.



Deadline Software Drives Render Farm for Polygon Pictures 

Japan’s Leading Animation Studio Maximizes Internal Computing Resources with Deadline, Thinkbox Software’s Customizable Render Management Solution 

Established in 1983, Tokyo-based Polygon Pictures (PPI) aims to “do what no other has done, in unparalleled quality, for all the world to see and enjoy.” In addition to creating animation for films, games, exhibitions and other various media, PPI’s credits include Daytime Emmy® Award-winning full CG TV series “Transformers Prime” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as well as the Annie Award-winning “Tron: Uprising”. To ensure the company maximizes computing resources for demanding production schedules, PPI uses Thinkbox Software’s Deadline to manage its render farm.

"Transformers Prime" | Copyright © 2014 Hub Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

"Tron: Uprising" | Copyright © Disney Television Animation

PPI had previously been using its own system developed in-house, but in 2010 switched to Deadline through software distributor IndyZone Co., Ltd. “As the number of software tools and settings we had to support within our own system grew, and the maintenance became more complicated, we had to consider a new solution. Taking into account its extensive application support, high flexibility and script extensibility, we chose Deadline,” said Keiichi Kameda, R&D group, Polygon Pictures.

To harness the full potential of PPI’s internal resources, the studio uses Deadline to utilize around 400 artist workstations (3000 cores) for rendering when idle, in addition to roughly 130 machines (1500 cores) in a dedicated render farm. When a user logs out of a workstation, it is automatically connected to the render farm as a render node. Due to Deadline’s priority settings, PPI can also rank jobs by importance and distribute resources appropriately across multiple projects.

Mr. Kameda at workKameda noted, “At the beginning, we managed our jobs by priority only. As multiple projects required more jobs to run simultaneously, priority assignment became complicated between projects, so we started to make project pools and changed the order of pools on each node. With Deadline, we can arrange the order of pools on each node by estimating the usage of resources for jobs on a weekly basis and have found managing pools under one repository to be a highly efficient way to handle jobs. With our current settings, if a higher priority job is sent to a render node, it must either wait until current jobs are completed or halt to begin jobs with the highest priority.”

Working on Windows 7 64-bit, with some Apple OSX, PPI configures mounting drives and applications based on a project’s access security, and also customizes existing submissions and plug-in scripts. Since Deadline natively supports a wide range of applications, PPI was able to integrate it into their pipeline with ease.

“Along with rendering from 3D applications used by our artists such as Maya, NUKE, Houdini and 3ds Max, we also use Deadline for a wide range of batch processes like converting image sequences into QuickTime files,” explained Atsushi Tamori, lighting and compositing group leader, Polygon Pictures. 

Leveraging Deadline’s open API, PPI has created an assortment of in-house scripts, tools and settings, and appreciates Deadline’s straightforward GUI. “The Deadline Monitor makes it easy to understand the rendering status of projects so we can adapt to the changing needs on the studio floor,” Tamori said.

The Polygon Pictures studio floor in Tokyo, Japan

Currently, PPI is working on “Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine” directed by Hiroyuki Seshita and “Ronia the Robber’s Daughter” directed by Goro Miyazaki, and is pouring its efforts into creating a new "Japan-originated" visual style by fusing its unrivalled production know-how and technical development capacity with the internationally recognized quality of Japanese animation.   

"Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine" Copyright: ©TSUTOMU NIHEI・KODANSHA/KOS PRODUCTION COMMITTEE

About Thinkbox Software

Founded by Chris Bond in 2010, Thinkbox Software develops production-proven tools for visual artists and backs each product with highly responsive support. Used across entertainment, engineering and design, Thinkbox’s products include Deadline high-volume data management software used to render or process files and several other artist-driven software tools to create, visualize and modify datasets for visual effects, animation and digital simulations. For more information, visit or follow @thinkboxsoft on Twitter.

Media Contact:  

Frances Ratliff
Raz Public Relations  


Techno Image Uses Deadline For 'Trojan Horse Was A Unicorn 2014' Animation

Brazilian animation studio Techno Image credits Thinkbox Software's DEADLINE as their render manager of choice used in conjunction with NextLimit's Maxwell Renderer for the creation of the following official spot for the "Trojan Horse was a Unicorn" 2014 (THU) event in Portugal:


Assembly Uses Several Thinkbox Software Products On "Glass Cows" Commercial


According to 3D artist Rhys Dippie of Auckland, New Zealand-based Assembly Ltd, the company recently finished a commercial for Anchor milk products and the new Light Proof bottle using several Thinkbox Software products, including Frost, Genome, XMesh and Deadline.

The fluid simulation was produced using proprietary software. The simulation results were meshed using the Frost particle mesher in Zhu/Bridson mode. 

The milk meshes were then processed with the Genome procedural geometry modifier to keep smooth surfaces against the glass and to avoid sharp edges. The grass in the bird shot was also animated using Genome.

All the cow and milk meshes were cached as XMesh individually using the Thinkbox' Deadline network manager. Deadline was also used for all simulation and rendering.

Click here to visit the Assembly web site to learn more about the project.


MAKE Uses Every Thinkbox Tool On The AICP 2012 Reel


MAKE employed every tool in the Thinkbox Software product palette in the creation of the mesmerizing Reception Reel for the AICP 2012 Show celebrating The Art & Technique of the American Commercial.

2012 AICP MN Reception Reel from MAKE on Vimeo.

We asked Danny Robashkin, Creative Director at MAKE, to share some more details about how the Thinkbox products helped realize this project. Here is what he had to say:


Millions of Krakatoa particles in the Sound80 logo"There is simply no other way to render this many particles, there is simply no other way to even sim this many particles! Through KRAKATOA, DEADLINE, and PRT Loaders, we were able to render particles so thick, they looked like solids.

Through the partitioning we were able to send simultaneous jobs to DEADLINE and get the simulate 10x faster than if we were working traditionally. It also let us move historically finicky particles between scenes, and use them any way we wished. Even for smaller particle counts, KRAKATOA's .PRTs are a very easy way to cache out simulations."


"We did our fluid sims in RealFlow, but much of our meshing was done with FROST, directly in 3ds Max. FROST offered us a few benefits, like being able to see your mesh directly in your scene, and how it interacted, and change your meshing settings accordingly.

Horner Music logo, a FumeFX simulation meshed with FROST

Plus it offered us a few unique abilities like being able to distribute meshes across our particles using a Krakatoa PRT Loader. You can see this in the Twist logo, where without any additional sim, we could add flecks to our liquids. FROST also allowed to create a mesh from a FumeFX cache for the Horner Music logo.

But probably the nicest extra feature was being able to animate culling objects within 3ds Max for the Volt logo, where we could cleanup and sculpt our PRT Loaders that FROST meshed, without having to re-sim our fluids. 


"XMESH ended up becoming a huge asset and workhorse in our pipeline.

Getting final assets into our render scenes and working with them without any worry of something breaking, or any inconsistency, was easy with XMESH. It also kept the pipeline light and nimble, so that the render layout scenes were very manageable.

XMESH also offered another great feature, the ability to re-time our animation, and simply make changes without having to be concerned with how that change may negatively influence other parts of the effect."


GENOME allowed the propagation of "hidden" velocity ripples to the surface of the FROST mesh.

"For the Spotnik piece, we were able to get some nice ripples in the RealFlow viewport, but they were not apparent in the meshes. This is because the ripples were only visible in the Velocity channel and didn’t actually deform the surface.

To get the ripples to show up on the mesh we brought in the RealFlow particles using a PRT Loader and placed them inside the mesh. Then we used the GENOME Modifier on the mesh to find the average velocity of particles within a specified range of each vertex. This velocity was output as the selection weight for each vertex so we could then put any selection based modifier above Genome in the stack to alter the mesh.

The Best Buy Logo - left side shows the full composite; right side shows the KRAKATOA foam pass.Another application of GENOME is apparent in the Best Buy logo where it was used as a volume select to keep displacement out of the mesh once it went above a certain height.

We were then able to use the same flow in a Krakatoa Magma Modifier on the PRT Loaders for the splash and foam. That way we could keep them on the surface of the water after the displacement. GENOME Volume Select is also much faster than the built-in 3DS Max modifier."



The Best Buy logo - Frost, Krakatoa and Genome, all rendered on Deadline.

"Without DEADLINE, we wouldn't have completed the project.

We had a very short 4 week production, and there were 7 of us working on the project on and off. We couldn’t afford to do anything twice.

With DEADLINE, we were able to easily manage all of our farm activities reliably. Not just 3D rendering - we were doing 3D renders, RealFlow sims, partitioning Particle Flows through KRAKATOA, and caching geometry through XMESH, all at the same time. And surprisingly it wasn't a chore to manage. Through setting up pools, job filters, archiving, and the Egocentric sorting, it was easy for everyone to find what they needed, right then. Plus through the task panel, it was easy to check for any bum frames, requeue, and blacklist the computers that caused the error, and even keep track of our slave machines down to how much drive space they had left.

DEADLINE is also open enough that we were able to use our own custom MAXScript submitter to send our passes off the the farm.  And while doing all of that we were able to run 2,500 jobs, hundreds of sims and caches, and over 200,000 final rendered frames through DEADLINE, without a single hitch.

If you have a farm, you need DEADLINE."


"Each of the above Thinkbox tools helped us out individually, but as a group they were all able to be even more effective. They all work together, and Thinkbox has done a great job breaking down the boundaries of any one plugin, and allowing you to push and pull data through all of them to get exactly what you want."


About MAKE

MAKE is a design studio that specializes in the art of storytelling through motion graphics, visual effects, and animation. To learn more about the company and their projects, please visit