AWS unveils new service for cloud-based rendering projects

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In an announcement timed for the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas, which kicks off later this month, Amazon today announced Deadline Cloud, a new service that lets customers set up, deploy and scale up graphics and visual effects rendering pipelines on AWS cloud infrastructure.

Using Deadline Cloud, customers in media and entertainment as well as architecture and engineering can leverage AWS compute to render content for TV shows, movies, ads, video games and digital blueprints, said AWS GM of creative tools Antony Passemard.

“We’re 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’ [compute] capacity,” Passemard added in a blog post. “AWS Deadline Cloud meets any customer’s rendering requirements by providing a scalable render farm without having to manage the underlying infrastructure.”

A startup wizard in Deadline Cloud walks customers through the process of setting up a render farm, including providing the size and duration of their projects to determine instance type and configuring permissions. Deadline Cloud then provisions Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud instances and manages the network and compute infrastructure. And — for customers with on-premises compute — Deadline Cloud integrates with this compute and uses it to execute rendering jobs.

Deadline Cloud’s dashboard provides a view to analyze logs, preview in-progress render jobs and review and control costs. With Deadline Cloud, customers can link their own third-party software licenses with the service or leverage usage-based licensing for rendering with existing rendering tools (e.g. Autodesk Maya, Foundry Nuke, and SideFX Houdini and so on) and engines.

“[With Deadline Cloud,] 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,” Passemard continued.”

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

Cloud-based rendering is nothing new. Back in 2015, Google made a splash in the space with the acquisition of Zync, whose technology it’s since used to launch Google Cloud-powered visual effects tooling in partnership with Sony’s animation studio, Sony Pictures Imageworks. Elsewhere, platforms like Arch and Chaos Cloud have provided on-demand cloud-based VFX infrastructure for years.

But the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated VFX workloads’ move to the cloud as the cost of maintaining hardware — and the space to store it — increased and work simultaneously dwindled, the result of work-from-home mandates and health-related shutdowns of productions. As Passemard alluded to, the rise of generative AI has fueled the demand for rendering hardware, too, and led to the creation of entirely new cloud-based, GPU-accelerated providers.

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