Gold Standard VFX - Rumble VFX

Rumble VFX is a boutique, independent visual effects studio that creates stunning visual effects for feature films and high-end episodic TV productions.

The team’s credits include some of the best-known films and drama shows of the last two decades. Based in Central London, Rumble VFX was founded towards the end of 2019 by Tim Zaccheo, Max Wright, Joe Cork and Richard Costin. With complimentary skillsets, the four long-time collaborators and colleagues manage every aspect of visual effects production, from the earliest conception and planning stages, through shoot supervision and the crafting and completion of all types and complexity of shots.

Tim Zaccheo, Co-Founder

Max Wright and I had both worked together for many years at another facility and had collaborated with Joe Cork and Richard Costin on many projects. All four of us came together to create Rumble VFX in late 2019. The company was born out of the ambition to do things our way.

VFX supervisors were keen to work with us, as they knew what we were capable of. This included the production team for The Crown, Season 4 which was one of our first projects. We’re now working on Season 5, as well as Season 3 of Pennyworth and Season 2 of Fate, The Winx Saga. I think across all the three shows we’ve delivered over 500 VFX shots to early June this year.

We’ve been flat out with work from launch, even with the challenges of working remotely during Covid. In some respects, it still feels like a fledgling business as our first three years have been far from what we expected. The team was scattered to the winds and working remotely for most of the past two years. We weren’t initially able to build the permanent feeling infrastructure we might have liked but now feel settled in our new building.

Keeping It Photoreal

We manage the projects from our office and have up to 20 artists working with us, with over half permanently off-site. We have one guy in Spain, another in Italy and one in Bangkok. We’ve been dealing with the production and supervising side ourselves, although the next stage is to bring someone in to help with production.

VFX supervisors and producers often prefer the experience of working with a slightly smaller VFX facility. And with the four of us have been in this business a long time, we have amassed a considerable level of practical and applied knowledge and expertise working on very high-profile projects. We can quickly find solutions to almost any VFX challenge that’s thrown our way and find the best approach to working it out. We do pretty much everything except creature modelling.

Because we don’t have an extended hierarchy the four of us deal directly with our clients and are also hands-on in the production of the work itself, personally managing small teams of trusted artists – in this way we can realise the ambitions of our clients in as direct and uncomplicated a manner as possible…

We make it a mission to keep on top of the latest developments and have gravitated to a few core applications. In 3D we’re primarily running SideFX’ Houdini which is a great one-stop shop for heavy VFX work, but it is resource thirsty. We run The Foundry’s Nuke pretty much exclusively for compositing and all the peripheral software you would expect, like Photoshop, Premiere and PFTrack. We found Redshift works best for us for rendering, coming out at about four minutes a frame, which is faster than anything else we’ve found.

Just before setting up Rumble VFX, I built a really powerful workstation at home which worked beautifully. I always wanted to build a PC from scratch. I’d never done it before. Back then you could easily source the component parts, which has become increasingly difficult over the past year.

We built our first four machines and since then, as the business has grown, we’ve bought from suppliers. We run off a Synology NAS rack system on-prem with about 160 terabytes of working storage, which we bought in our first week.

The New Workstations

Earlier this year, we needed three more high-spec machines with high-performance CPU, lots of cores, a good fast solid graphics card with lots of video RAM and plenty of disc space. Our first port of call for a piece of new kit is always Matt Seal, now at Altered Images, so we asked him what was available. We’ve known Matt for some time and he’s an asset to the company. He doesn’t come across as a salesman. I don’t even know if he is one. Matt suggested we looked at the Exacta Technologies Proline as well as quoting for the other vendors you might expect.

On paper, the Proline Media Workstations ticked all the boxes that we were looking for. Exacta Technologies turned them around very quickly. It was at most two to three weeks from order. Richard Costin had them up and running within a day and they just fit straight into our system.

Because we don’t have that many workstations, it’s essential that what we have are reasonably pokey. Having decent rendering and graphics is a priority. We went with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. They’re not just our user machines but also contribute to our render farms so that we can get more rendering completed overnight.

We’ve had no problems, no issues. We’ve got a couple of users on them as we’re talking. The chap over there is working on one building shots for the next season of The Crown. I’ve not heard him once complain, and he’s quite the complainer! The Proline workstations fit in very neatly and we would repurchase them.

Rumble VFX’s Workstation Spec

  • Proline 601 Orange Mid Tower ATX Proline 850w Platinum PSU
  • Extreme Z490 Motherboard
  • Intel i9-10900k 3.7Ghz 10 core processor 128GB DDR4 4000Mhz RAM
  • NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3060 GPU
  • 2x1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Windows 10 Pro 64bit

This PL-Media system is fully customisable and optimised for VFX workloads. Positioned within the Proline mid-range, the PL-Media balances the commercial outlay with the power and grunt required in VFX and Post workflows.

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About Altered Images

Altered Images is a leading expert in workflow system design and a major technology reseller for the broadcast, television production, education and corporate communications industry. Its highly-skilled team understands visual communication technology, offering everything from a single product to a complete turnkey solution. From consultancy and system design, through to sales, installation and support, Altered Images offers a fully-specified service for production and broadcast professionals. For further information, please get in touch.