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Case Study with Corridor Digital

About Corridor Digital

Corridor Digital is a wildly creative independent production studio based in Los Angeles that, in recent years, has become quite the pop culture phenomenon on YouTube. With over 2 billion worldwide video views, 15 million subscribers, and an average monthly viewership of 70 million, Corridor creates visual art that pushes the boundaries of what technology can achieve. It is actually this passion for technology and innovation that brought Puget Systems and Corridor Digital together.

Founded by Sam and Niko in 2009, what began as two friends creating internet videos in an apartment, Corridor Digital has developed over the past 11 years into one of the most novel and influential digital production companies in the modern content era.

We recently caught up with Digital Corridor’s founders – Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer – to talk about how this phenomenon all started, where it’s all going, and how their partnership with Puget Systems actually fuels their creativity.

“Watching Corridor Digital go from where it was to where it is today, for me, is like watching Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit as he sets out on his journey by himself, picks up friends along the way, goes on adventures and becomes older and wiser for it,” said Niko Pueringer, reminiscing about the very early days of Corridor.

“We started off making viral videos, mainly focused on cool visual ideas and video game fandoms. We’d make cool films about anything that caught our fancy, and that we thought people would enjoy. That evolved again into us having shows like VFX Artists Reacts and Animators Reacts, where we would break down a lot of the visual effects and post production techniques that you would see in major Hollywood films,’ continued Niko. “We’ve had amazing guests come and visit us from all over the industry, true professionals – from VFX supervisors, stunt people and even the stars of the films themselves, all sharing their stories of their experiences with our audience!”

Sam Gorski added, “Making YouTube videos for us started like ‘hey we’re making goofy short films’ but it turned into this whole massive operation now!”

Sam continued, “And that’s basically Corridor Digital; a whole mix of a bunch of crazy artists, all wanting to make cool stuff and just trying to make visuals that wow people. And, we want to share all that knowledge and education with people as well!”

Fenner Rockliffe, VFX Supervisor also joined in the conversation. “It’s a studio that encourages you to be like, what do you want? And how do you want to do it? It’s an amazing experience to be able to say, ok, I have the resources, now it’s up to me to make this work!”

It’s a studio that encourages you to be like, what do you want? And how do you want to do it? It’s an amazing experience to be able to say, ok, I have the resources, now it’s up to me to make this work!

Fenner Rockliffe on working at Corridor Digital

Technology Gets Out of the Way So You Can Create

So how does technology and innovation fit into this mix of creatives and artists, and how does a team of hardware systems experts meld with all of this? Niko explained, “So the big advancement that let myself and a lot of the people here start making the stuff that we’re making is basically this: computers!”

“It’s the idea that you can have this computer, and this software that lets you edit, that lets you color grade, that lets you do 3D renders, that lets you do 2D compositing. And now we’re getting into artificial intelligence, deep fakes, image generation, audio processing – there’s a whole bunch of crazy crazy technology and it’s all working now on our machines! And that’s where Puget Systems comes in. We use Puget Systems computers for all of our workstations here, and for us to be able to do what we do and try out all of these crazy experiments, we need these powerful computers from Puget Systems to be able to pull that off,” Niko added.

“Especially as more and more of us here have gotten these new systems and across the board, all of our computers are so good that we don’t have to think about them. And that’s the point! The moment you start having to think about whether or not the tool you’re using is going to work for you, it’s already over!”

Fenner added, “Before coming to Corridor Digital, I worked at Weta Effects. What’s really common in a lot of the large scale studio systems is that you’re working off of virtual machines. It’s been a nice return to form coming to Corridor where we get to work on these powerhouse workstations provided by Puget Systems; you can just throw things at them and they’re just going to get things done! A fluid simulation or a super dense CG scene renders out 10 seconds per frame, it’s just amazing!”

…and across the board, all of our computers are so good that we don’t have to think about them. And that’s the point! The moment you start having to think about whether or not the tool you’re using is going to work for you, it’s already over!

Niko Pueringer

Puget Systems and Corridor Digital: Creativity Meets Innovation

The picture began getting much clearer; how does such a wildly creative group of people come to depend on a highly technical team like the one at Puget Systems? Puget Systems has invested significant resources in understanding the artists, the software they rely on, and the impact that software has on the system itself, right down to the component level.

Wren added, “It changes how you think. If you know your computers are not going to be the problem, you’re not going to be wasting time thinking ‘am I going to have enough time to render out 10 shots in the next week?’ You’re just like, ‘10 shots? That’s not a big deal!’ I’m not even going to think about that now, I’m going to think about other problems. As an artist, you have to learn how to use tools, but you also need to learn how to trust those tools. And that’s where Puget Systems adds so much value – the trust!” 

“A big epiphany that we’ve had because we work with Puget Systems, is that when we think about future projects, we don’t think about them from a hardware capability standpoint anymore.”

For their production of Son of a Dungeon, an immersive dungeon environment map, created in Unreal Engine, the Corridor team is shooting on a green screen with real time motion tracking cameras and a virtual production environment running into Unreal Engine with real time rendering.  “It’s all just happening right there. It was literally like, what software do we need, what pieces of hardware do we need, what cables for the camera do we need, and what tutorials do we need to watch to teach us how to do this. At no point in the process were we sitting down then trying to troubleshoot if the computer could handle it, or asking what pieces of machinery do we need? That’s all just been taken care of for us by Puget Systems.” 

“And that’s basically led us to where we are today at this point. We finally have a tracking system that is very reliable, it works really well! You can get hand held shots, move the camera around, we can see what the environment is supposed to look like, we know where the lights are supposed to be, we can nail the shot because we can actually see what we’re looking at.” 

“There’s a lot of cables, cameras, trackers, lights, all that stuff but ultimately it all has to funnel into one thing, and that one thing is the super beefy Puget Systems workstation we have downstairs for our virtual production set up. It’s the ultimate dream. You want to be able to walk onto a green screen and film a bunch of stuff and not have to deal with any of the BS later. And Puget Systems workstations finally do that for us,” added Sam.

Wren continued, “I think one of our greatest strengths as a company has been our ability to evolve. We have this amazing hardware here, thanks to Puget Systems; and Sam has his amazing Son of Dungeon camera set up he built; it’s just stuff that, when I started my career, I couldn’t have even dreamed of having access to.”

A big epiphany that we’ve had because we work with Puget Systems, is that when we think about future projects, we don’t think about them from a hardware capability standpoint anymore.

Wren Weichman

What’s Next?

So what’s next for Corridor Digital? Where is this all going?

Niko elaborated, “We have such an amazing, talented team of people here now, there are amazing renders being made everyday, amazing short film ideas being made – it’s a really cool, collaborative collection. Now we’re trying to make the next step in terms of doing our own narrative scripted content, we’re also still exploring the art form, the technologies of VFX and digital filmmaking – it’s all moving so fast.

Technology, Innovation and Inspiration

In closing, Wren added “Because we do have Puget Systems workstations, they have reintroduced my life to art generation. I had stopped making stuff and it was kind of sad, so getting the new Puget Systems workstations to work on – I even have one at home – actually changed everything. I found myself staying up late just working on random renders because it was fun, and I had something to show for it at the end of it, and it was awesome and I was proud of it! It changed everything! On a personal note, it brought a lot of happiness to my life!”

To learn more about Puget Systems’ partnership with Corridor Digital, please visit pugetsystems.com/CorridorDigital

If you would like to inquire about having your company profiled, please reach out to [email protected]

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