Something unexpected happened to me while working remotely... "Campfire" Stories... 🔥

So, I’m remoted into a machine at a studio across town for the last couple weeks on a juggernaut of a job… Working away. Posting for client that evening…

I hear some gardeners trimming trees next door. Not unusual at all… The sounds of chainsaws, lawnmowers, and leaf blowers have become regular background noise in WFH life… My neighbor calls me to ask if she can use my green waste bin since her gardener is trimming her trees and she’s already filled up hers. Sure, I say… I mention to her in passing that my fiber optic line is really thin & easy to miss… We exchange pleasantries and go about our business…

In the middle of updating a conform, numerous work chats, and getting ready to screenshare for a dailies review… Everything lags… At first I’m wondering why my producer isn’t responding to my chats… Remote connection to my flame hangs… Maybe network traffic? Then I remember the conversation I just had with my neighbor and get a sinking feeling… Walk out to the backyard where I can see the fiber optic line enter my house from the telephone pole. Where’s the line? There it is. Severed in half, and draped across the fence. FUUUUUUUUCK. Knee-jerk anger, frustration, resignation, then resolute go-time mode… Conform isn’t going to update/post itself… My neighbor asks, “Can’t you just use my WiFi?” I have a good laugh to myself. My fiber connection was pinging the office at 2ms… I log in to her WiFi and do an internet speed test to complete the exercise. 2mbps down, 3mbps up. ~350ms ping. Right…

The next hours are spent calling the ISP, scheduling a tech to come out to run a new line, and having my producer clear me (now an “essential worker”) to go in to the office and finish out our posting from the flame locally. Take the Webex dailies call via my phone, and drive to the office… Posting goes out at 2a, fiber line gets re-pulled the next morning (remarkably), and I’m back online at home that afternoon… Certainly a new experience in the COVID times…

I feel as flame artists, we’re prepared for these types of things in a bizarre way. Trials by fire, or flame, more accurately… :wink: Hardware failing, bad renders, last minute requests, racing against deadlines, problem solving under duress, severed fiber optic lines, etc… We’ve all had those moments, compose ourselves, figure out productive next steps, and try our damndest to execute on that plan…

Anyway, I’d love to hear some of your most colorful “overcoming adversity” flame stories… Flame stories 'round the “campfire”, if you will… :slight_smile:


I had a client send me a locked edit once. Fucking odd…


“There is nothing more exhilarating than being shot at with no result.” -Winston Churchill

When I decided to build my own rig at home, one thing that became quite clear was the amount of stuff that I now needed to give a shit about. Good internet, internet backup, good power, power backup, good hardware, hardware backup, good storage, storage backup… on and on.

Some notable close calls…

My first job as a company. I was tasked with developing and running an online portal for remote vfx supervision and managing 15 friends from the agency and client. The night before the big day, my eye started to hurt. I woke up the next day…not…able…to…see…at…all. Random eye infection. I had to have my wife drive the session whilst explaining what was going on and FaceTime the Ophthalmologist and run to the pharmacy in between takes.

My second job as a company. The day before the entire project delivers. My neighbor decides to do some maintenance on his whole-home generator. Boom! Power outage. Thank gawd I had enough extension cables to reach the nearest neighbor with power.

My third job as a company. The freaky derecho hit, with 70mph winds, tornado warnings, power outage. Me and the wife and kids are sheltering in the basement whilst I’m VNCing into my machine upstairs to deliver a spot.

I get so paranoid. I now own LTE WAN failover, x2 LTE hotspots, x3 UPS that gives e me 25 minutes run time on battery, a generator and a backup Flame.

Maybe karma is trying to tell me something.


I have a short but “sweet” one. I couldn’t login via VPN and scratching my head. I call the IT guy and we’re walking through possible issues. We came up with either License server or Internet issue. Long story short, the company never paid their bill…Worked fine after that. However, I lost an entire day on a job that was already skimping on the schedule and a crazy producer wondering why I couldn’t go into the office and just work from there. Love these times.


hahaha. put another quarter in the meter, eh?

Seriously…it’s crazy. They tried to blame me most of the day until the IT guy let them know they lapsed on a payment. FacePalm


Amazing. So brilliant.

Randy, sounds like you need to move.

1 Like

Thought about it. No earthquakes. No fires. Illinois government is doing okay with covid…I’ll take my chances. :slight_smile:


Most of my tragedies are self-inflicted.

A personal favorite was staying up all night for a national TV commercial back in the video tape days, delivering it, only to find out as it was being dubbed to national-TV-commercial levels of tapes, that I had failed to connect one render to the next setup and the spot was wrong. Hard to catch stuff on negative hours of sleep.

They say you should make a “failure resume”, but mine’s more like a “failure epic”.

1 Like

One of my favorite quotes from you when we were working together back in the day:

“Working on no sleep is like living off credit.”


In the early days of Smoke on Mac, I got put on a hundred or so spot package with like 5 base conforms that got versioned out to such a complicated degree that the “matrix” spreadsheet needed to describe it filled most of one wall of the suite. It was hard, and the deadline was tight (10am the next day), but I had a plan.

I did all the work and started rendering, first with burn, and then as I got closer to midnight, in the foreground as well.

Then, around 11, the framestore froze. I had torched it, somehow. It had blinked into some read only mode where the software wouldn’t launch and very little of the work I’d done could be recovered, even from other systems. We basically had to start over, only my “plan” (this was a pre-anniversary edition world where the smoke timeline was like an exotic curiosity to most flame artists) wasn’t really scalable to multiple artists.

Over the next 18 hours or so, some very patient and understanding artists helped me rebuild it from scratch, delivered, and I guess it was mostly fine. Some residual scarring. Whatever.

My favorite after-action moments were a) the agency producer accepting my apology for the shitshow I’d just overseen/instigated with a chuckle, saying “don’t worry, this basically happens on every job we do.” And b) the chief engineer, a few hours before the second delivery, telling me that they’d recovered the framestore and I could go back into smoke if I wanted to. “That’s gonna be a no for me, dawg” as the kids say.


mine is not Flame related, but happened in the last years of the previous century when i was a news editor cutting on Avid Newscutter. We had a main broadcast studio in one city, and I was 40 miles away in a small regional studio. Everything was connected to the main studios by fibre optic cables, and knowing the story i was cuttting was close to the wire, I had already switched the lines output to the avid suite, so i could playout as soon as done.
Normal procedure was to playout to Leeds, where the linesroom would record to beta sp tape and load that into a giant robotic playback system controlled by the gallery.

what the days director forgot to tell me was my story had been bumped up the running order. Luckily i always had a tv playing on one of the monitors so imagine my suprise when i glanced up to see the shot i had just dropped into the timeline was being broadcast.

Quick as flash i jumped to the head, hit play and watched it broadcast live out of my edit suite, with not a single word of cue or anything from the gallery (who i had on talkback throughout)!

Live TV was always great for adrenalin rushes and some seat of the pants madness. Somedays i miss that…but not often.


and one that will really only mean much to a news editor.

Cutting a small piece about some investment at the local city libraries, i needed 20s of gv’s. It was a quiet day so i asked one of the cameraman to get me some new stuff, rather than rely on the tired old stock footage we had.

Uploaded the edit into the system, filled out the relevant data for captions etc, and was tickled pink when i finally got to misuse a caption whilst being 100% accurate.

Brand new shots of a library with the caption throughout saying “Library Pictures”…how often do you get to really emphasise the images you are using with a definitive description as well?


I’m sure I was doing both.