Having already turned to Amazon Web Services, the studio easily moved to full remote production in the cloud this March; company quickly scaled artistic and computing capacity without disruption to delivery schedule.
Toronto-based animation studio Industrial Brothers has completed six episodes of their animated series, Remy & Boo, with all work done using virtual workstations on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The studio has been creating and producing kids’ entertainment since 2010, developing original IP with projects including episodic series Kingdom Force, Remy & Boo, Top Wing, Dino Ranch, and Gummandos.
Also, currently in production is a new animated series slated for a two-season, 20-episode arc that will run through 2023 on Netflix. With significant talent and resource requirements, Industrial Brothers’ head of IT, Jean-Paul Godmaire, looked to AWS to help scale artistic and compute capacity, a decision that proved fortuitous in March 2020 as most of the world began working from home.
“Our office can only accommodate so many artists and we foresee needing render resources beyond our internal GPU farm during crunch time on future projects, so we started serious conversations with AWS at the end of last year about using virtual workstations and burst compute,” explained Godmaire. “Animators require extremely low latency and we wanted to make sure they’d be well-equipped for the task at hand. When we had to pivot to work from home this spring mid-project, I was confident in AWS and the groundwork we’d laid, so we deployed our setup earlier than initially planned and were able to maintain our delivery schedule, despite the disruption.”
During lockdown, the studio’s artists completed the final six episodes for the latest season of the NBCUniversal series Remy & Boo using LG thin clients connected to virtual workstations on AWS powered by Amazon EC2 G4dn instances - which leverage NVIDIA T4 GPUs - and running Autodesk Maya. Artists also used virtual workstations on AWS to run a USD pipeline using SideFX’s Houdini for layout and lighting, Substance Designer for texturing, and Maya for animation. Across projects, Autodesk Shotgun was used for asset management, with reviews done in Shotgun’s RV tool and dailies conducted via screen share. With a little breathing room post-delivery, Godmaire sought a way to continue leveraging the studio’s existing infrastructure.
“We went all-in on AWS and replicated our studio in the cloud because we knew it would work and get us up and running quickly; however, we still own quite a bit of hardware and want to fully amortize our assets,” noted Godmaire. “Leaning on AWS infrastructure, we’ve been able to transition to using our physical studio workstations but remotely, and are now cloud-enabled, which gives us more flexibility to make workflow and pipeline adjustments in the future.”
Artists are now also leveraging 10ZiG thin clients, connecting to the studio infrastructure via Teradici Cloud Access software. Deadline render management software developed by AWS Thinkbox is used to manage the studio’s on-premises compute, which is a largely Windows-based GPU farm running Redshift. With the disruptions of 2020, animated projects are in high demand, as productions can be conducted much safer than live action, and Industrial Brothers has been busier than ever.
“At this point, we’ve actually hired more people than we can seat in-studio, but since work from home is here to stay for a while, we’ve just converted our studio into machine housing,” added Godmaire. “Still, we’re going to run out of space eventually, and hardware procurement can be difficult. With AWS, we have near-instant access to the resources we need when we need them, which has allowed us to not only continue working during a challenging time but also grow.”
Source: Amazon Web Services