Animal Logic, the Australian animation studio responsible for the Academy Award winning film Happy Feet, announced Amazon Web Services as its preferred cloud rendering provider last week and detailed how cloud-based render farms can speed up its animation workflow.

The studio is using AWS’s public cloud services to render films, including the upcoming Peter Rabbit 2, during times of high demand. For example, Animal Logic used the AWS elastic compute services to render the latest trailer for Peter Rabbit 2 because it needed the extra resources to meet a deadline.

Animal Logic CTO, Darin Grant, told media at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last week that without the cloud services it is unlikely the deadline for the trailer would have been met.

“That first trailer we couldn’t have gotten done without Amazon Web Services. And the reason for that is … one character in the movie, Barnabas.”

While Animal Logic could effectively reuse some assets from the previous films for existing characters, rendering the brand new character, Barnabas, is much more intensive. So much so that it quickly maxed out the studios on-premise resources, Grant said.

Grant told Which-50 a single frame on an animated film like Peter Rabbit 2 can take over 500 hours of single core render time. 

Using cloud-based render farms allows animators to crank up the render power as needed and only pay for what is used, rather than hosting the infrastructure on site where it may be under-utilised at other times.

Grant told Which-50 while the cloud resources aren’t necessary infinite they do offer more than Animal Logic can house on-premise, and allows the studio to improve render times as needed.

“That’s the beauty of it. It’s really up to us because … there’s a lot more resource than we have and [it is] flexible resource, to gain access to that [lower render times]. We can spin up those resources in minutes.”

Importantly, Grant says, the better render times of the fully automated and elastic render farms reduce the wait times for animators, who typically animate models in a simplified mode and need to render to see light and material effects. Grant said he process interrupts animators’ creative “flow”.

“[In the past] an animator may need to animate a shot with Peter Rabbit in it, so you push a button and you’d wait. Check your watch and check your email and go get coffee, and then you get it back and you look and then you can interact after. That can be like  five, 10, 30 minutes. 

“So imagine if you can reduce that wait time so people can stay in the flow, and that’s what cloud rendering has enabled us to do.”

Animal Logic uses AWS Direct Connect, a dedicated network connection from its Sydney studio to the local AWS data centre to access the cloud based render farm.

The author traveled to AWS re:Invent as a guest of Amazon.

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