After Evaluating the Market, Rooster Teeth Sides with Helix

Before selecting Helix, Rooster Teeth had evaluated Subversion, which it found to be somewhat counterintuitive, and Git, which did not scale adequately. “Git worked fine with just a few files, but once we tried to access 1,000 files at once, it crashed,” reports Jeff Yohn, Technical Director, Rooster Teeth.

    What Convinced Rooster Teeth to Pick Helix?

    Good previous experience from other team members

    ASCII data type and binary asset management

    Significantly less risk of missing deadlines

    In a production pipeline, the stress goes up with every hour that you have to make up because something happened to a file.

    Perforce is a lifesaver."

     

    About Rooster Teeth Productions

    • Austin, TX-based creative production studio of 50 developers and animators
    • Creators of award-winning online videos, the animated series RWBY and a number of comedy and gaming series
    • In 2012, its YouTube channel became the 8th most viewed non-music channel in the world with 2.2 billion views
    • The Rooster Teeth website attracts five million unique monthly visitors and boasts 1.4 million registered community members

     

    Core Pain Points

    Working on the web-based anime series RWBY posed the following problems:

    • Computer-generated productions meant it was hard to know who did what to a file and when
    • Limited traceability around the occasional incorrect or corrupted file, and rebuilds took up significant time
    • 5 TB of ASCII and binary assets in approximately 10 million files escalated the traceability problem to a mammoth scale

    “We needed a system that would help us monitor asset changes and recover lost data without a lot of lost man-hours,” states Jeff Yohn, Technical Director, Rooster Teeth.

     

    Why Helix?

    Before selecting Helix, Rooster Teeth had evaluated Subversion, which it found to be somewhat counterintuitive, and Git, which did not scale adequately. “Git worked fine with just a few files, but once we tried to access 1,000 files at once, it crashed,” Yohn reports.

    Perforce was a natural choice because:

    • Many team members had Helix experience from previous work in gaming
    • It scales easily to the size of Rooster Teeth projects
    • It handles both ASCII data types and binary assets
    • Helix was free to use through the Helix Free for Small Teams program, and it included excellent tech support

    “When I came on board at Rooster Teeth, not everyone was sold on version control,” Yohn remarks. “Now we know that it’s a necessity.”

     

    Helix in Action

    Rooster Teeth team members use the Helix user interface, along with the Windows plugin, to access assets stored in Helix.

    • Yohn has also integrated Helix with the two 3D animation packages used for the project, Autodesk Maya, and Smith Micro’s Poser
    • When an animator loads one of these packages, it accesses the Helix server to ensure that the animator is working with the latest assets

    Helix also ensures that Rooster Teeth’s rendering engine is operating with the most up-to-date assets, 24x7:

    • Running on a standard gamer’s desktop system, Helix handled the load with no downtime during the entire production season
    • Towards the end of the project, Rooster Teeth did 500 shots in two weeks and generated 300-400 Helix queries per night

     

    Business Impact

    Helix has generated substantial productivity gains for Rooster Teeth:

    • The team can recover lost, corrupted, and accidentally modified assets faster and with much less disruption
    • As a result, the company has significantly cut the risks of a missed production date — which has huge revenue implications

    “With a production pipeline, it’s all or nothing,” Yohn says. “You can work for nine months, and if you don’t make the DVD date, you don’t make the sales. You might not even get to make another season”

     

    Looking Forward

    • Rooster Teeth has begun using Helix as a delivery system for custom tool sets that Yohn develops for the production team
    • The company also plans to expand the use of Helix to new productions over the next year.