AWS for M&E Blog

Build a digital studio-in-the-cloud with Amazon Nimble Studio and WekaIO

Authored by Barbara Murphy, Vice President of Cloud at Weka. The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.


Cloud-based media and entertainment storage workflow solution

Imagine if a Formula 1 driver had to be their own mechanic too? Unthinkable. Well, why should it be any different for creative artists who bring life to the screen? With content production increasingly moving to a distributed model, artists now find themselves turning to the cloud for their studio workstation and storage infrastructure needs. But it can be a daunting task to lift and shift to the cloud, so WekaIO has collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to simplify the under-the-hood mechanics so creatives can focus on being the best at their art.


Mechanic working on race car engine


Amazon Nimble Studio is a new service that enables customers to set up creative studios in hours instead of weeks, with elasticity that gives them near limitless scale and access to rendering on demand. With Amazon Nimble Studio, customers can rapidly onboard and collaborate with artists from anywhere in the world, and produce content faster and more cost effectively. Artists will have access to accelerated virtual workstations, high-speed storage, and scalable rendering across AWS global infrastructure, so they can create content faster as part of virtual teams. There are no upfront fees or commitments to use Amazon Nimble Studio, and customers pay only for the underlying AWS services used.

Powered by Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) G4dn instances, virtual workstations in Nimble Studio provide on-demand compute power to handle the demands of even the most challenging content creation needs. Nimble Studio supports both Windows and Linux, in addition to industry-standard digital content creation applications.

On-demand high-performance compute and storage for artists and animators

Artists and animators need access to fast, reliable, and affordable compute and storage on demand. As a cloud-based service, Nimble Studio frees creative studios from the limits of on-premises compute and storage hardware, or the location of specific artistic talent. Infrastructure costs are directly tied to the project being worked on, allowing studios to take on much more ambitious projects than before. Nimble Studio, built on AWS infrastructure, is an ideal platform to deliver studio-in-the-cloud because it offers scalability for large rendering projects.

Just like the Formula 1 racers want to drive the fastest car on the track, artists and animators want to have as close to real-time feedback as possible, and that requires fast, low latency access to storage systems. Weka is available for use with Nimble Studio to offer WekaFS, the fastest POSIX-compliant file system, on the AWS Cloud. WekaFS delivers very high streaming bandwidth to the applications, while maintaining low latency across the storage cluster. The Weka native client delivers very high single client streaming performance and can fully saturate the client’s network link.

Benefits of WekaFS on AWS for Media & Entertainment (M&E)

WekaIO on AWS delivers an ideal cloud-based solution for M&E. To improve rendering efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Amazon EC2 compute instances and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) object storage provide on-demand resources that can scale up or down as dynamic rendering needs dictate. The WekaFS data platform leverages these dynamic resources to deliver the simplicity and sharing capabilities of NAS at significantly higher parallel performance.

Customers benefit from:

  • Scalability and mixed workload performance
  • Enhanced collaboration, productivity, and business agility
  • Flexibility in implementation

Accelerating 3D-animation and VFX workflows in the cloud

WekaFS offers a multi-protocol POSIX-compliant file system with full file shareability and file locking across different operating systems. Windows, macOS, and Linux users can access and share a single project set allowing for easy collaboration among creative teams.

Additionally, WekaFS has a rich feature set including snapshots, encryption, quotas, and much more. Its non-volatile memory express (NVMe) flash tier tightly integrates with Amazon S3 for high performance and cost optimization in a single namespace. Weka’s unique snap-to-object feature allows users to “park” user projects in addition to the file system and metadata in Amazon S3 when not in use to save on cost. When needed again, the snapshot can be re-hydrated in minutes and artists can resume work.

The infrastructure required to create realistic 3D-animation or visual effects vary dramatically from project to project and studios frequently struggle to meet infrastructure demands between peak and off-peak work periods. Amazon Nimble Studio with Weka storage allows creative studios to take on bigger projects with more aggressive timelines without the limitations of physical hardware. By eliminating high upfront capex costs and depreciating them over several years, studios can fund opex project expense from the project contract. WekaFS with Nimble Studio allows a studio to scale its storage infrastructure and storage bandwidth to meet the needs of the project without the cost of underutilized hardware capacity. Studios pay only for the resources they need when they need them. An on-premises solution might take weeks to add more storage, costing artists time and money – or worse, never winning the contract. With WekaFS, artists can instantly add storage capacity to the studio resources so no project is “too-big.” With features like Auto Scaling groups, users can increase the storage cluster for peak demand and shrink back down when the render project is complete. Artists no longer have to pay for weekend time when projects are midstream. Projects can be snapshot to Amazon S3 on Friday and spun back up on Monday when work resumes. When the project is done, WekaFS can also store it in Amazon S3 for long-term archive.



WekaFS Architecture Diagram

WekaFS Architecture Diagram


Customers can also automate deployment of WekaFS with Nimble Studio using AWS CloudFormation Templates. AWS CloudFormation simplifies provisioning and management on AWS. You can create templates for the service or application architectures you want and have AWS CloudFormation use those templates for quick and reliable provisioning of the services or applications. The combination of Nimble Studio and WekaFS deliver outstanding performance and flexibility to any artist without requiring infrastructure expertise.

Learn more about to accelerate your next creative project using Amazon Nimble Studio and Weka’s cloud solution on AWS.