Google Cloud, working alongside Sony Pictures ImageWorks, has announced the release of OpenCue: an open-source render manager designed specifically for visual effects and animation. The move reflects the overall industry shift toward cloud-based solutions rather than maintaining extensive in-facility render farms.
As render demands continue to increase, studios have relied on the near-limitless scalability of the cloud to deliver content. As with similar services, OpenCue allows a render job to be distributed across many concurrent systems both on-site and in the cloud and allows users to allocate render tasks to certain machine types. This lets users prioritize important shots by sending key scenes to more powerful machines while sending low-priority tasks to either on-premises render nodes or less-expensive, less-powerful cloud systems.
OpenCue is built on the framework Sony Pictures ImageWorks’ internal Cue 3 render queuing system. Cue 3 has been refined by over 15 years of constant internal improvement and has been scaled to use over 150,000 computing cores between Sony’s onsite systems and Google Cloud’s resources on recent projects.
Google points to Sony’s history as a developer in the VFX/animation industry as additional rationale for this partnership. Sony has been instrumental in contributing to packages such as OpenColorIO and Alembic, now used across hundreds of studios worldwide.
This is not Google’s first venture into cloud-based VFX solutions, following up the company’s acquisition of Zync Render in 2014. OpenCue joins a growing market, competing directly against the Thinkbox Deadline render manager which relies on Amazon’s EC2 cloud platform.