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Case study

Vuela Embraces Virtual Post Operations with LucidLink

“We immediately tested LucidLink and it just worked brilliantly straight away. It quickly became a standard part of our service.”

The Company

Vuela is a boutique color grading studio in Quito, Ecuador with international ambitions. The post-production house has established a leading reputation locally working on commercials for blue-chip brands like Ford, Chevrolet, Amstel, and Santander.

After working for over 7 years in motion graphics and postproduction for advertising, adding more than 20 years of collective experience, Vuela has now expanded its facilities to include color grading with Vuela Color and established a fully cloud-based operation based on LucidLink, with aims to widen its reach across South and North America. 

Needing to change up

Vuela harbored the idea of operating remotely but it was the pandemic that created the scenario for it to happen.

Explains Owner and Colorist Julian Crespi, “Before Covid, all the footage from a shoot for a commercial would be delivered to us on hard drives. It was just the conventional way of doing things, but it was not ideal for the increasingly fast-paced nature of production. Using hard drives always requires a wait for the drives to be delivered and then additional downtime to transfer. This may only be a few minutes each time, but incrementally it all adds up.”

When Covid necessitated an end to in-person meetings and made the exchange of physical media difficult, Vuela’s clients began asking for alternative ways to handle the material.

“We tried uploading media from local hard drives directly to our staff and our clients using online solutions like WeTransfer and Google Drive, even FTP, but none were reliable for our needs. You’d also have to go through the process of downloading files, uncompressing them and copying them to a project folder, and then the reverse on export. This was inefficient and wasting precious time.”

Finding LucidLink

At the Hollywood Professional Association Tech Retreat in February 2020 (which took place in person just before lockdown) Crespi first learned of LucidLink. He had met with Jeff Olm, the Technology Director at Eclipse Tech and fabled VFX artist (Titanic, The Fifth Element).

“I was lucky to have a chat with Jeff and he told me about how LucidLink enables you to mount a drive onto a virtual machine with all media hosted in the cloud. As soon as Covid forced us all to work remotely, this idea made a lot of sense to us.”

“We immediately tested LucidLink and it just worked brilliantly straight away. It quickly became a standard part of our service.”

Time-saving productivity

With Crespi, his business and craft partners as well as third-party post suppliers, client directors, agencies, and DPs all working from home, Vuela Color was able to continue working entirely remotely on projects throughout the pandemic.

“What we valued most at first, was what our clients valued which was the simplicity of working with LucidLink. Essentially, everyone on a project sees the same virtual hard drive on their workstation as a local drive which is always up to date. There’s no need to send any manual or video explainer. It is incredibly easy to understand and that is very valuable to our clients.”

LucidLink has been hugely beneficial Vuela’s workflow. Working on data-heavy commercials projects with 4K RAW EXR files that average over 3 GB per shot can sap bandwidth as connections struggle to manage the load, but Vuela finds LucidLink has slashed these wait times.

“Compressing and uploading a sequence of image files using links like WeTransfer feels like it takes ages. The great thing with LucidLink is as soon as you start copying the image sequence folder to LucidLink Filespaces the sequence starts downloading immediately at the receiver’s end. There’s no lag waiting for files to upload or download. So, by the moment your upload ends, your client already has every file downloaded on their computer. The process happens simultaneously and instantly. “

Centralized file structure

Another important attribute to Vuela is LucidLink’s file structure. “We operate to tight deadlines where everyone wants the latest version right this second. LucidLink was able to transfer files extremely fast but crucially in a very orderly fashion. 

“When you’re working so fast and collaboratively it can be hard to keep track of it all, especially if you’re receiving material from different sources. You are at risk of duplicating files and duplicating effort by not working on the most up-to-date version. LucidLink changed our workflow overnight by unifying all our inputs and outputs, and because the process is so intuitive, the file directory remains centralized so that everyone can join in from anywhere and always be in sync with the workflow.”

LucidLink’s technology streams data on-demand, eliminating the need for storing unprotected copies of files on multiple devices, radically different from any existing solution.

“Security has never been an issue,” says Crespi. “Our clients trust us to secure their property and we trust LucidLink to encrypt that data. It has never been an issue even once.

“All around, LucidLink has reduced the stress of working in a pandemic environment both for us as a service provider and for our clients. LucidLink is technology we can rely on.” 

Grading and finishing on Da Vinci Resolve at Vuela has been entirely decentralized for months with media in the cloud organized via LucidLink. Vuela could in theory operate from anywhere and access server-grade high-speed connections on demand. So successful has the model been that Crespi says the facility will remain virtual from now on. 

“The core concept of a centralized space that is easy to share may sound simple but its impact for us and our clients has been nothing short of sensational. For Vuela, it is something that adds value to our service. When a client comes to us we can tell them that they will receive this amazing software as a standard part of our service. For us, LucidLink is a differentiating factor. Now that our clients know how it works, they expect it from us too.”

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