Nimble Collective creates first fully cloud-based short film

When Citrix approached us with the idea of creating an animated film in 4 short weeks for their Synergy 2015 Conference, we were a bit worried about the feasibility of completing it on time.

Like many animators with ideas, we were faced with several challenges. Besides the creative challenges, there were the technical challenges of getting workstation-class hardware in the hands of our artists, providing a place to collaborate, and how to get the show rendered in time.

After some initial performance testing, we decided the time was right to try a cloud-based approach. Interesting, strange-but-true animal facts had been floating around the team and it seemed like a fun source of ideas so we decided to animate one!

Like many animated films, Jason started with drawing storyboards to figure out how the idea would turn into a story.


Our friend Sheila did some initial explorations in pencil of a character design for the mouse, Robyn.  We then used photoshop to explore a bit off those initial designs.

sheila pencil sketchesrobyn photoshop explorations

Next Jason modelled, rigged and set up the appearance for Robyn in Maya using only a browser to connect to DemoNet.

robyn modeled in maya

Similarly, Scott took advantage of the workstation-class 3D performance of DemoNet to animate Robyn in Maya.


George lit the shots in Maya on DemoNet and rendered the shots using Arnold on EC2 instances running on Amazon Web Services. Below, George (left) and Jason look at some lighting renders on DemoNet.


Through the use of Citrix’s DemoNet and AWS and some Nimble Collective know-how, we were able to complete on time our first short which was fully animated and rendered in the cloud!

Check out the finished short “Animal Fact #271” from the happy founding team!


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