AWS Deadline Cloud launched to transform content rendering pipelines

AWS Deadline Cloud launched to transform content rendering pipelines Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.


Amazon Web Services (AWS) has unveiled AWS Deadline Cloud, a fully managed service that helps customers set up, deploy and scale rendering projects in minutes, so they can improve the efficiency of their rendering pipelines and take on more work.

With Deadline Cloud, customers creating computer graphics, visual effects (VFX), or innovating their pipelines to incorporate artificial intelligence-generated (AI-generated) visuals can build a cloud-based render farm – aggregated compute – that scales from zero to thousands of compute instances for peak demand, without needing to manage their own infrastructure.

Customers can use built-in customisation tools and integrations with digital content creation (DCC) software, such as Autodesk Arnold, Autodesk Maya, Foundry Nuke, and SideFX Houdini, to tailor their render pipelines for specific projects and directly render from preferred tools for use in design, modeling, animation, visual effects, and more. With Deadline Cloud, creative teams can accelerate production timelines by running more projects in parallel, without worrying about capacity limits. Deadline Cloud offers built-in budget-management capabilities that help customers understand costs with high granularity on a project-by-project basis, and with no upfront costs. Customers only pay when they are rendering. To get started with Deadline Cloud, visit aws.amazon.com/deadline-cloud.

The final frames for VFX and other digital media are generated through a process called rendering that takes 2D and 3D digital content data and computes an output, such as an image or video. The demand for rendering high-resolution content developed by creative studios and generative AI tools has led many organisations to set up their own on-premises infrastructure – render farms – that combine the power of hundreds, even thousands, of computing nodes to process rendering jobs. Comprised of queues (submitted render jobs) and fleets (groups of nodes that process queues), render farms can take weeks or even months to build and deploy and require significant planning and upfront commitments to procure hardware and configure complex infrastructure.

Organisations must decide between provisioning for peak demand, which can result in costly infrastructure sitting idle between delivery periods, or running into fixed capacity constraints that can limit the number of concurrent projects they can take on, delay projects, or lead to missed delivery commitments. Render farms also require companies to connect software from multiple, specialised DCC tools like software for animation or games cinematics. If the software in the asset pipeline is not compatible or current with the render management tool, studios need to remain on older software versions, compromise their desired workflow, or introduce additional processes to integrate the software.

Additionally, organisations need to track and manage costs to stay on budget, and often in-house tools lack capabilities to easily track project costs. While some organisations use render management software like AWS Thinkbox Deadline, many studios don’t have the in-house staff or IT resources to configure or manage their own cloud-based compute infrastructure and must look externally for alternative compute and IT support. As a consequence, organisations may lack scaling capacity to easily grow their business.

With Deadline Cloud, customers in industries like media and entertainment, architecture, and engineering can transform their content-rendering pipelines for projects spanning films, television shows, commercials, games, industrial design, and more—without upfront investments or ongoing costs between projects. Customers can access Deadline Cloud through the AWS Management Console and use a guided process to build their render farm, including providing the size and duration of their projects to determine instance type and configuring permissions. Deadline Cloud automatically provisions Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud instances and manages the network and compute infrastructure, simplifying customers’ ability to scale compute based on demand. For customers that have already invested in on-premises compute, Deadline Cloud can integrate with and extend their existing compute and use it to execute rendering jobs. Customers can use built-in integrations with popular DCC tools, relieving them of manually setting up and licensing rendering projects with each DCC and reducing the time and effort required to tailor their rendering pipelines for each job.

For example, an animation studio can combine DCC and generative AI techniques to render compute-intensive scenes with Deadline Cloud at scale for an upcoming film, without worrying about impacting other projects or provisioning additional infrastructure. Deadline Cloud’s dashboard provides customers a comprehensive view to analyze logs, preview in-progress render jobs, and easily review and control costs. With Deadline Cloud, customers can link their own third-party software licenses with the service, or they can easily engage usage-based licensing for rendering with existing DCC tools and render engines. The scale and elasticity of Deadline Cloud – through its pay-as-you-go model – means customers do not need expensive hardware or have to spend time setting up an on-premises render farm.

Antony Passemard, GM of Creative Tools at AWS, said: “We are at a tipping point in the industry where demand for rendering quality VFX and the amount of content created using generative AI are outpacing customers’ on-premises render farm capacity.

“AWS Deadline Cloud meets any customer’s rendering requirements by providing a scalable render farm without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. Creative teams can embrace the velocity of content pipelines and respond quickly to opportunities to accept more projects, while meeting tight deadlines and delivering high-quality content.”

Deadline Cloud is generally available today in US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Europe (Frankfurt), and Europe (Ireland).

Animaj is a next-generation media company that brings high-quality and inspiring brands to kids and families worldwide.

Antoine Lhermitte, VP of Engineering at Animaj, said: “Our business is rooted in automating and optimising the production of 3D animated scenes that spark kids’ imaginations worldwide. Running our unique pipeline — which combines several steps of complex character animation manipulations — is tedious and time-consuming when done on custom infrastructure, creating content bottlenecks and detracting from time that we could spend innovating on storytelling.

“With AWS Deadline Cloud, we can scale render capacity up or down based on dynamic workloads and adjust capacity in minutes rather than hours. By offloading undifferentiated work, we have been able to deploy seven times faster, giving us the ability to expedite our artists’ inventions so they can focus on creativity and bringing inspiring stories to global audiences.”

Company 3 is a comprehensive postproduction facility for features, episodic, commercials, and music videos.

Phil Wortas, Director of New Technology, Company 3, said: “Over the years, we have invested in on-premises resources for handling our large rendering jobs.

“The flexibility of AWS Deadline Cloud for managing render computing, both on-premises and in the cloud, and the ability to use Open Job Description to allow us to build the integrations we need freely, helped us easily share job execution processes across multiple departments in our company.”

For more than 35 years, SideFX has been providing artists with procedural 3D animation and visual effects tools designed to create the highest-quality cinematic results.

Rob Stauffer, Technical Consulting Manager, SideFX, said: “As the creators of Houdini, industry-leading visual effects software, it is vitally important to us that the artist experience when using our tools is intuitive, customisable, and future-proofed.

“The integration of Houdini with AWS Deadline Cloud means artists can use advanced and familiar tools for motion graphics, virtual reality, and more, before seamlessly rendering in the cloud directly from Houdini, allowing creators to stay focused on innovating new ways to deliver breathtaking content rather than managing rendering workstreams. We look forward to exploring new opportunities to augment the richness of Houdini’s comprehensive toolset with the performance and capabilities of Deadline Cloud.”

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