Becoming part of the "industry" can be one of the most challenging parts of becoming a 3D artist. From imposter syndrome to a simple lack of opportunities, artists are always looking for a way in the door. However, the people at Garnamatac have built a studio that works to solve this problem by producing not only high-quality animation content but also opportunities for the greater 3D community to get started in the industry.
Founded in 2018, Garnamatac is a boutique animation studio based out of Tbilisi, Georgia. The studio has worked with a wide range of clients from large ones like Nickelodeon, to local clients such as Georgia's Innovation and Technology Agency.
What makes Garnamatac unique as a studio is their dedication to social consciousness and to pushing forward the local animation industry. The four founders of the studio told us that they've been working from the beginning of their partnership to align their vision and maintain a commitment to long-term values and quality over possible short-term gains. The results speak for themselves. Garnamatac has built an impressively strong presence and community around their work.
"Committed to some predetermined values, we unanimously decided to exclude ourselves from engaging in projects related to a selection of detrimental business sectors like Gambling, alcohol, tobacco, meat-related products, military, and politics. In contrast, we always try to accommodate social projects by regulating our fees, efforts, and availability accordingly."
In an industry landscape heavily focused on corporate clients and commercials, Garnamatac's approach is a refreshing reminder that anyone can make a difference in their industry.
On top of providing animation services, Garnamatac is working to develop the animation industry in Georgia by providing an example of what a top-quality studio there can provide for not only clients but to artists looking for work.
"We make sure all GARNAMATAKIANS enjoy what they do and engage in projects that are meaningful one way or another. Our studio has a very humble beginning and we want to stay true to the roots, but at the same time we hope to bring significant value to the emerging animation industry of Georgia"
Aligned with these values, Garnamatac initiated a new education program called Training-for-Life in partnership with the USAID Economic Security Program that seeks to develop the talents of emerging visual artists. This provides a service to local artists, but also a lucrative and steady recruiting scheme for the growing studio.
When it comes to workflow, Blender is Garnamatac's tool of choice for animation alongside Maya and Blackmagic's Fusion. Blender, an open-source tool, served as a perfect choice for a studio inclined towards community engagement and social values.
"The variety of tools, openness, unity, and engagement of the community in overcoming challenges [made Blender an attractive choice]. Its lookdev, shading, rendering tools gave us an edge to utilize interactive feedback. Also, while some parts are not as rigidly developed as others, Blender's developers make sure the software's ease of use is maintained. We as artists can really appreciate that."
Recently Garnamatac has been working on projects for Nickelodeon such as the “The Can’t Stop Smiling “ music video. The project was produced by Cartuna, who were also in charge of pre-production and creative direction for the music video. Garnamatac was in charge of the rest of the 3D and animation pipelines.
The team is now working on launching pre-production for their own short film project. Garnamatac places a high value on the impact that producing their own project can bring. While commercial work pays the bills, internal projects, and initiatives fuel creativity and community, two essential components of a strong industry.
"Throughout the past couple of years, we have achieved adequate sustainability to pursue personal endeavors and initiatives. On top of that, we’re slowly switching our focus to building the community through education and supporting other local studios in attaining control over their creative efforts."
Garnamatac uses our online render farm for many of their larger-scale projects and rendering needs. So far, they’ve rendered over 50,000 animation frames using both our Blender and Maya render farm. Their recent work on “Can’t Stop Smiling” involved 4,000 frames alone. Support was a big factor for them along with being able to accurately estimate render needs in their production schedule. In the past, the team had some painful experiences that led them to be at first skeptical of jumping into online rendering again.
“At first, a welcome bonus did the trick - we could do risk-free tests prior to migrating entire projects. We also made sure the customer service was there and knowledgeable people were available for support 24/7. The whole adoption process has been surprisingly smooth. So, basically, we were lured by a bonus and affordable pricing but kept coming back for convenience and peace of mind. We’ve had some painful experiences with farms in the past and were pretty biased. Now it’s part of our traditional workflow… One of the most important improvements we’ve made to our workflow since our inception is the inclusion of GarageFarm. Our production times decreased without quality sacrifices, which is a dream come true for every studio everywhere, and our confidence in tackling massive projects increased substantially.”
What first prompted the studio to use a render farm was their need to accommodate an unorthodox pipeline for a project. A render farm allowed them to take on the project and work with an unusual pipeline without affecting the final project in a negative way.
“The rendering phase involves the most uncertainty when we are discussing a production schedule. The larger the project, the larger the miscalculation which led to late delivery most of the time. Being late is not a great trait to be associated with…The Can’t Stop Smiling music video was produced in 3 months, this includes pre-production (concepts, storyboards), production, rendering on GarageFarm, and post-production (compositing, grading). Had we not had the farm on our side, we would need 50% of the entire production schedule to render the project on our machines.”
Garnamatac’s innovative community approach to studio management and GarageFarm’s ability to enable them to take on large projects has helped the studio move forward. However, they aren't stopping there. The studio is looking at using new tools like Houdini alongside Autodesk Maya and Blender to push the limits of their productions. Houdini offers a wide variety of procedural and simulation tools that simply aren't available on other packages. Clarisse is also being considered at the studio for use in the look development process to speed up their workflow.
“We’re also considering the use of Clarisse because it should considerably accelerate our lookdev process due to how effortlessly it copes with massive datasets.”
And of course, AI is primed to play a role in the studio’s future. The team is looking forward to using next-generation simulation tools that AI is pushing into new territory.
“It’s apparent that AI will change the way we look at simulations. With the help of AI there has been a giant leap forward towards being able to generate better approximations of physically based simulations. It is not too far in the future that we will see real-time simulations of physics without any approximations, and this will result in true photo-real simulations.”
Garnamatac is pushing a unique perspective in the studio scene by being nimble and responsive to the industry’s trends and needs. While many growing studios tend to develop a corporate atmosphere, Garmanatac’s work with the Training-for-Life program keeps their team grounded in the needs of the animation community. Their commitment to social causes is truly enviable. And their portfolio of clients and projects is equally so.
To see more of Garnamatac's work and their full showcase, visit their Behance. Or you can stay up to date with the studio's goings-ons on Facebook and Instagram @garnamatac