Teradici Helps Crafty Apes Remote Transition; Transitions Its Own Staff

Teradici recently helped visual effects and production studio Crafty Apes transition to remote work during the coronavirus crisis, while at around the same time transitioning its own entire staff to remote work also.

The Crafty Apes transition was “one of many examples of the kind of fast-track, urgent work-from-home” transition demand trend that Teradici has helped companies with for a while and “now it’s accelerated through the pandemic that’s happening,” Ziad Lammam, VP of product management and marketing at Teradici, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) in a phone interview April 10.

Crafty Apes, whose credits include the films “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Watchmen,” “Hustlers” and “Dolemite is My Name,” shifted all of its artists to working from home, with the support of both Teradici and visual effects hardware/software solution provider RFX, the three companies said in a joint April 8 announcement.

The transition of about 150 Craft Apes artists took about one week, with 60 artists transitioned in just a single day, according to the companies. Crafty Apes was able to keep its artists online and maintain its production schedules “at a time when many enterprises across a wide range of industries have struggled to support a mass migration of employees from the office to the home,” the companies said.

“We had to go from an office full of people to everyone working from home, and we had to do it very quickly,” according to Tim LeDoux, founder and VFX supervisor for Crafty Apes. With the help of RFX and Teradici, “our artists are all now working from home, editing shots, doing their jobs, and all with a high degree of security, since we’re just streaming the data and not sending any files home,” he said.

Crafty Apes, which has been a Teradici customer for several years, expanded an existing installation of PCoIP Remote Workstation Cards, which were used to support artists in branch offices and other remote locations from centralized data centers, the companies noted.

“Teradici Cloud Access Software now makes it possible for organizations to get the same benefits by deploying PCoIP technology through software installation only, without any additional hardware required,” they said.

Crafty Apes artists now have full access and functionality of their office workstations from their homes using 10ZiG zero clients and can work within their regular software applications.

PCoIP technology encrypts and sends only pixels to the remote endpoint with high-fidelity color and graphics performance and virtually no latency, while keeping files securely stored in the office location and compliant with Trusted Partner Network (TPN) security requirements, the companies said.

“What happened over the last 30 days or so is [a few] existing Teradici customers who were already using our technology and doing that for in-office remote use or branch office remoting, they found themselves in a really good situation to be able to quickly expand that to the at-home use case,” Lammam told MESA. Crafty Apes is a good example of that type of company – one that was “already a Teradici customer and so they were able to work with us and … RFX to really extend that to their remote employees. And so they’re all now running and continuing to do their VFX postproduction work at home,” he said. Teradici has also been working to help new customers also, he noted.

“We’re able to fill that virtual workstation piece of the remoting puzzle” that a lot of companies now require and “I know a lot of other partners are filling other pieces, whether it’s conferencing or consulting or storage or anything else,” he said, adding: “If you already have this working in your office, extending it to home is pretty seamless” — as long as the employees have good enough Internet service and “most people have more than what they need through their service providers,” he said.

There was no major hurdle for Crafty Apes, he said, explaining: “The biggest challenge is really kind of the culture shift of working from home. And maybe a small loss in sort of your monitor real estate. If you’re not actually taking those two or more big monitors home, then you may sort of have a smaller environment to work on. But other than that, once you get your network access, it’s the exact same applications that you were using in the office. You’re on the same virtual workstation.”

The transition that Crafty Apes went through was “similar to Teradici ourselves,” he went on to point out. “We obviously used our own virtual desktop software and four weeks ago we were all at the office and we announced to our own employees that we would be working from home the next day,” he said, adding: “Everyone was able to go home that afternoon and the next day we were all just firing up our virtual desktops from our home computers or laptops” or devices from the office and “got up and running.”

Most of Teradici’s 150 employees had been working from the office at the time of the transition, although about 20 of them, including salespeople, were working remotely already, he told MESA.

As far as any challenges, he said: “There’s sort of the cultural changes of remote working. Some people were more comfortable turning on their webcams to share video and make meetings more personal. Others weren’t quite there yet. I think it took about a week or two for people to really find that home configuration that works best for them” in terms of what devices to use for work also.

And then it took time “just getting comfortable with firing up the conference bridge – we use Teams at Teradici – [but] now everyone’s pretty comfortable with that,” he said, adding: “Just establishing more of that social communication culture and checking in more often than you did so at the office — the typical kind of work-from-home best practices. Those were the biggest challenges. We kept all of our company meetings going. So we do an all-hands meeting every week and we just moved that to be a virtual all-hands [meeting that] everybody still attends.”

Whether the global shift to remote working leads to more companies shifting more of their work to remote after this crisis is over is a question that has “been on my mind,” he said, explaining: “Because the situation has proven to many organizations across many industries that we all can work from home, there will likely be… more interest from both employers and employees to do that more frequently because it’s possible. From a Teradici perspective, that’s certainly something that we’re observing and thinking about. We haven’t really made any sort of decisions at this date. Everyone’s kind of still at the early days of just plugging away. But I think industrywide across the world it won’t be the same once this is all over. But I think in a good way.”

One positive of making remote work an option on a full-time basis is that it “kind of makes the talent pool more globally accessible,” he said.

Another positive is that the current shift to remote work has made it possible to see even more clients and partners when talking with them than normal, he pointed out. “When we have meetings with our customers and our partners, and we do it on some kind of conferencing system, I’ve noticed much more of a trend where everyone’s actually comfortable turning their camera on,” he said, adding: “Whereas before we might meet with a client or partner and just talk on the phone… I’m now actually getting more face time with our customers and our partners because everyone’s just turning their video camera on at home.”