ERA Delivers Flash Pipeline for CHF’s New Animation Pip Ahoy!


Leading Broadcast and Media IT Integrator ERA has delivered an innovative Adobe Flash-based creative pipeline for Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment (CHF)’s latest children’s animation, Pip Ahoy!.

CHF is the reincarnation of Cosgrove Hall – the company responsible for some of TV’s most popular animations. The multi-award winning team chose the Adobe Creative Platform with Flash technology to deliver Pip Ahoy!, a new 52 x 11 series, to allow it to create content in the iconic 2D animation house style synonymous with hits such as Danger Mouse. Bearing all the visual hallmarks of Cosgrove Hall’s iconic animated children’s programmes, this new production also features the vocal talents of Sir David Jason and X Factor star, Stacy Soloman.

“Using Adobe Flash for large-scale animation projects is not the norm, but we like to push the creative boundaries,” said Rachel Giles, Group Operation Director at CHF.  “ERA has proved to be the ideal project partner to help us with this creative and technical challenge and their support proved invaluable throughout the project roll-out to resolve issues that our internal creative team were wrestling with. From the beginning, ERA worked closely with us, selecting the technology and setting up the workflow to meet our specific creative requirements.”

Flash animation has different technical priorities to standard 3D animation workflows. Traditionally a render farm is deployed to manage both workflow and file sharing, but existing technology is not yet mature enough to support Flash-based production.  Technical investment was focused on the workstations and graphics cards to deliver the processing power and graphics capabilities to support the heavy compositing requirements of turning bitmap or vector-based artwork into 1080p HD video sequences. To meet this challenge, ERA installed Dual CPU HP workstations optimised with NVidia K4000 graphics cards, facilitating improved performance and multi-tasking, even when large scale rendering projects are in progress.

“This was a large project encompassing a fully integrated hardware solution of workstations, editing, storage and network infrastructure and also our design of an innovative efficient workflow,” comments Sean Baker, Commercial Director, ERA. “To establish a pipeline that could deal with producing 572 minutes of animation via Flash we worked closely with both CHF and Adobe to analyse their workflow requirements and effectively balance power, connectivity and costs.”

The complete solution installed by ERA at CHF’s Manchester HQ also features Avid editing, Autodesk Smoke, Cisco networking, high-performance storage and a Storage DNA LTO-based archive.  The team provided an end-to-end project management service to CHF from workflow architecture, system design and build, support and maintenance.