If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that work can get done anywhere if post pros have access to their tools, secure data and fast machines. Established in late 2020, targets a hybrid world that combines working from home with on-site and remote-forever artists and producers using virtualization — cloud-based, remote, virtual workstations and high-speed cloud storage.

The pair behind WrkFlo each bring a different skillset in technology, talent and production, and the names might be familiar. Founder Peter Corbett has been working in this industry for decades. He started the first Flame house in New York City and spent most of his career building physical — everyone on-site — facilities. His partner John Miller — an early advocate of remote editing — has spent the past four years virtualizing facilities.

WrkFlo’s services include spinning up an entire post solution for single projects, eliminating rentals, as well as providing a roster of several hundred creative talent that will come already trained in working in a virtualized environment.

WrkFlo's John Miller and Peter Corbett

Let’s find out more from Corbett and Miller…

In a nutshell, how would you describe WrkFlo’s service offerings to folks who are unfamiliar?
John Miller: Our solutions deliver either an end-to-end cloud-based post production facility, or we seamlessly integrate and sync virtualization into existing traditional post facilities, thus eliminating fixed-cost spends on hardware, while providing extreme flexibility to scale up or down near-instantaneously. What we are doing with virtualization is simply a revolutionary approach that upends all existing perceptions of post and will be the standard, not the exception, moving forward.

How do your backgrounds in the industry play a part in all of this?
Miller: Over the years, Peter and I have been on a technology adventure. He has always been pushing the technology boundaries and has built many cutting-edge facilities for his businesses. I have been on the other side of bringing new technology, such as Discreet Logic’s Flame and MaxT (which I sold to Avid), to market. The combination of our backgrounds will help our customers understand how virtualization will be the solution they didn’t even know they were looking for.

Peter Corbett: I became very excited at being involved in this revolutionary change in how post will work going forward. We have seen people and companies do amazing things over the past year, but there are many more companies who need services like ours to map out a long-term solution for their business and creative needs.

How did the pandemic affect your operations and approach?
Corbett: While the “cause” of this sea-change in how we work and collaborate was initially the pandemic, the “effect” has been to dramatically rethink the WFH/on-prem balance, which in turn, meant that talent can be located just about anywhere. To achieve this, Radu Polizu, a partner at WrkFlo and our VP of engineering, initially set up many facilities — including ones that I was still involved with — for remote operation. These facilities required NAS servers, firewalls and on-prem workstations that could be remotely accessed. While this was (and still is) a viable solution, we believe that virtualization, with the shifting of capex costs to an opex model, is the future.

Let’s talk virtualization. What are the benefits?
Miller: The WrkFlo solutions use data centers to deliver powerful virtual workstations, along with terrific facility and post management — digital asset management, pipeline, license servers, storage management, workstation monitoring and collaboration tools — that can be scaled up or down, in both capacity and power, virtually instantly. This is the future. We are offering a unique set of solutions and applications to a more efficient way to create and deliver content.

By moving from sunk capex costs into variable operating costs, a facility can grow or shrink based solely on the volume of work needed. They can take advantage of tax credits and find talent anywhere, which will reduce labor costs in many instances. This is just a more cost-effective solution.

What does this way of working look like from a user perspective?
Miller: From the artist’s perspective, this work environment feels literally as though the workstation is right in their own room. They can switch to more powerful machines based on the job requirements, including instantly available stand-alone render nodes; they can customize their virtual machines the same way they would with a physical workstation; and they can continue to have the work-from-anywhere freedom they’ve become used to. They can even add additional high-speed storage on the fly.

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For producers, there is a comprehensive pipeline application for project management, as well as an extensive digital asset management system that are included at no additional cost.

Can artists still use the software tools they normally work with? And is this a one-stop solution for them?
Miller: Our solution is a bring-your-own license model, so whatever software a user currently has — and this includes plugins — can be used on the virtual machines. The list is extensive and includes Adobe software, Avid software, Resolve, Maya, Cinema 4D, Nuke, Blender, 3D Studio Max, Unreal and many others.

This model extends to peripherals like tablets, second monitors and control surfaces as well. We extensively tested the software available on the virtualized solution, augmenting it with several packages that we felt were critical in the post process. Our solution brings a high degree of collaboration with clients by offering high-quality streams for content approval.

What about storage and security?
Miller: The challenge in this new hybrid work world has always been security, as files today are being sent over unsecured networks or drives shipped to freelancers. The WrkFlo solution keeps all media behind the virtual firewall — unless you give specific permission, nothing can be downloaded. We are also able to integrate on-prem storage solutions and distributed local storage with the cloud storage, guaranteeing instantaneous content sync and enabling fluid collaboration between local and virtual machines.

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Finally, what’s the cost to entry?
Corbett: The beauty of virtualization is that this is a subscription model. Need a more powerful machine? More storage? More (or fewer) virtual machines? The cost of each resource can be annual, monthly, even hourly, and it scales up or down. The TCO (total cost of ownership) of this solution is much less when you consider the total cost of maintaining on-prem, hardware-based facilities.

We believe that as we move forward in this hybrid world, virtualization is going to deliver all the horsepower necessary to carry out the complex workflows involved with content creation. At WrkFlo, our solution is an elegant, convenient and cost-effective way to connect the talent to the tools and to the companies that are creating the content.