Consultant’s Corner: Future-proofing a Workstation for a Disney Animator

The Customer

An animator named Greg, who has worked on numerous projects for Disney, recently approached Puget Systems about purchasing a new workstation. I was assigned to the case and began by asking Greg how he would use his new workstation. Greg explained that he was looking for a general-purpose machine for his work in the motion picture industry.

Through a series of questions, I learned that Greg's daily workflow centered around VFX and Title Designs of resolutions between 4K and 8K using Cinema 4D. Greg also wanted a workstation that wouldn't bog down while he was working in Adobe Premiere Pro and Resolve, where he edits 6K videos, and pushes them to Octane to render.

I find myself having to remind people of where they’re coming from hardware-wise and providing an objective perspective on the realistic performance they can expect.

The Consultation

Greg had used a Mac for many years, but that system didn't have the horsepower to render locally. That meant he had to regularly outsource his largest rendering jobs to third-party cloud services, and the costs were piling up.

Once I had a firm understanding of Greg's workflow, bottlenecks and desire to render project locally, I recommended a workstation utilizing a AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU and NVIDIA RTX 3090 GPU. The pairing of this 32-core CPU and the high-end 3090 would not be cheap but would pay for itself over time given the savings over rendering in the cloud. It would be a substantial upgrade over this old Mac.

Greg also asked for advice on future-proofing his workstation. The configuration I worked up would allow for dual graphics cards, but that would come at a higher cost, so I provided Greg with the option of adding a single card today and upgrading to dual cards in the future. Although Greg decided to go with dual cards, he appreciated that I was transparent with him about his options.

The Solution

Working together with Greg, I came up with a configuration that would meet all his needs today and give him ample headroom to take on advanced projects in the future. I started the quote process with our Recommended System for Adobe Premiere Pro 8K, and made a number of upgrades, based on the applications that are part of Greg's workflow.

Customers often come to us to review configurations that are overkill for their workflow. I like to help them to understand what components influence performance the most, and that often means scaling back in one area in order to upgrade in another. Balancing a customer's needs and budget can be tricky, but it's something I enjoy doing and that our customers appreciate.

It's impossible to know what technology lurks around the corner two or three years from now, but this configuration should provide Greg with years of high performance, and a welcoming lightening of his wallet now that he can render projects on his new workstation.