Though you might know them as a phone carrier, AT&T is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. Firewalls are a vital tool in network security, and AT&T has brought firewalls into the modern era by enhancing them with a unique blend of machine learning, data analytics, and the knowledge of human experts. They came to us with the task of explaining this sophisticated approach, and showing the world what sets it apart from existing methods.
As with many networking products, we were faced with visualizing something that people have never seen. Firewalls don’t look like anything in real life, so we needed to develop a visual metaphor that explained their functionality. While the network was easy to show with an interconnected web, enveloping the entire web in a shield wasn’t enough to show the intricacies of AT&T’s approach.
Instead, we decided to give each individual endpoint of the web a “glass box” shield. Each shield had multiple layers to signify the literal layers of security employed in standard firewalls. The uniqueness in AT&T’s firewall approach is to dynamically and intelligently filter incoming packets, rather than setting static rules. To show this, we developed the idea of a fence-like mesh that changes its shape to allow or block different shaped packets.
Because these concepts needed their full visualization to be understood, we took to Cinema 4D to create several 3D styleframes. While that was happening, we built a sketch storyboard to communicate the story’s flow. As AT&T’s team reviewed and approved that storyboard, we updated the sketch frames to become a full sequence of 3D styleframes. This set us up to jump right into animation, where we used OctaneRender to bring realism to the network world, and After Effects to composite glowing attacks and digital textures into the scenes.
With highly complex topics come highly specific notes. AT&T was understandably particular about how we portrayed the intelligent actions of these firewalls, and we worked through several revisions to get everything just right. We reached the finish line, and AT&T is actively using the video on their website and youtube to explain how their firewalls work.