AWS for M&E Blog

Netflix supports VFX companies onboard to the cloud, with AWS as key provider

The imaginative characters and settings from Netflix-original content like “Stranger Things,” “Bridgerton,” “Slumberland,” “The Adam Project,” and beyond couldn’t be brought to life for audiences worldwide without visual effects (VFX) and animation behind the scenes. Creating standout imagery for these projects and others requires substantial artistic talent, for which the streamer has acquired established VFX studios, including Scanline and Animal Logic, and built a global roster of vendors, big and small. As the scope and complexity of VFX work continues to grow, Netflix is supporting VFX companies to get up and running on the cloud for render workloads, a vital aspect of content production. To help accomplish this, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been tapped as a solutions provider, along with AWS Partner Conductor Technologies, which leverages AWS compute and supports AWS Thinkbox Deadline, for on-demand rendering.

Render sequence from Stranger Things season 4. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Figure 1 – Render sequence from “Stranger Things” season 4. Image courtesy of Netflix.

As a solutions provider, AWS will offer VFX studios streamlined access to dedicated technical support and hands-on solutions architecture engagement. Once onboarded, mid-size and boutique VFX studios that Netflix works with can access AWS technical resources, support, and optimized pricing.

According to the official announcement on the Netflix Techblog, the company has found that “when VFX teams dedicate more compute capacity to rendering, they are empowered to handle more projects, iterations, and schedule crunches while maintaining on-time deliveries. This ultimately results in more compelling entertainment for Netflix members.”

Composition beauty render/pass with particle FX for Stanger Things season 4. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Figure 2 – Destruction pass from “Stranger Things” season 4. Image courtesy of Netflix.

By offering the high-performance compute needed for VFX rendering with pay-as-you-go pricing, AWS allows studios to scale as much as projects require, and just as quickly spin back down to minimize costs. Studios can gain additional economic benefits by leveraging Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances, which are available for a discount of up to 90 percent compared to On-Demand prices and are ideal for fault tolerant workloads.

For Netflix, the stated goal is to support a healthy VFX ecosystem, and helping VFX studios onboard to the cloud is a step towards that. It allows studios that work on Netflix productions have access to the technical resources they need to create amazing stories.

“Cloud technology has introduced new ways for studios and artists across the globe to create incredible content,” said Antony Passemard, general manager of Creative Tools at AWS. “We look forward to working alongside Netflix to enable more access for creators to streamlined infrastructure and high-performance compute power on the world’s leading cloud. This partnership will be compelling for any company that wants to bring the breadth and depth of the AWS portfolio into their workflows, built with the highest standards for security, speed and resilience.”

Figure 3- Final composition beauty render/pass for Stanger Things season 4. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Figure 3 – Final render from “Stranger Things” season 4. Image courtesy of Netflix.

To learn more about how Netflix and AWS are supporting VFX companies, visit the Netflix Techblog.

Colin Cupp

Colin Cupp

Colin is the marketing lead for Media & Entertainment content production at AWS. Prior to joining AWS in 2018, he held marketing roles at Autodesk, Mochi Media, and Sun Microsystems. When he isn't working or renovating his fixer upper, he likes to explore San Diego beaches and parks with his family.