Q&A: Thinkbox Software's Chris Bond
Issue: August 1, 2017

Q&A: Thinkbox Software's Chris Bond

WINNIPEG, CANADA — Thinkbox (www.thinkboxsoftware.com), an Amazon company, recently announced the availability of its Deadline 10, the latest version of the compute management software that makes render farm workflows behind 3D modeling and graphics applications more flexible by enabling customers to access any combination of on-premises and cloud-based resources for hybrid workflows.

Deadline 10 is the first release to offer customers access to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Spot Instances that can significantly reduce the cost of running rendering applications, and help customers increase compute capacity on the same budget. Customers can now also purchase by-the-minute render time in the AWS Cloud through Thinkbox’s Marketplace. Deadline for Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, Arnold, an Autodesk offering, and Chaos Group’s V-Ray can all be purchased in the marketplace. Deadline 10, including support, is available for $48.00 per year. 

Here, talking about the company’s new release, is Chris Bond (pictured), founder of Thinkbox Software and director of product management, Amazon EC2, at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Bond reveals what users can expect from the Deadline 10 launch, including the benefits of tight integration with AWS.

What are the newest features in Deadline 10 and how do they impact workflows for facilities?

“One of the biggest new features is the new AWS portal. These controls are accessible from the Deadline monitor, which allow facilities to scale without limits by moving workloads or portions of workloads to the AWS cloud. Studios get all the same intuitive Deadline features of on-premises infrastructure, but with the added flexibility to add new render nodes whenever needed, and with complete control over the software and type of machine running. It’s never been easier to connect cloud-based resources with local infrastructure, and we’ve lowered the annual price of Deadline to $48 USD including support, making it even more cost-effective for users.” 

How does the integration with Amazon EC2 Spot instances impact customers? 

“Spot instances are spare Amazon EC2 compute capacity that customers can get at a reduced cost. While these resources are availability-based and therefore ideally suited for jobs with more rendering flexibility, they provide a massive savings opportunity for customers — up to 90 percent less than traditional on-demand instances. Deadline 10 is integrated directly with EC2 Spot and other AWS services so it’s very simple to use; all you need is an AWS account. With one mouse swipe, the user can click ‘start infrastructure’ and get the process going. This five-minute process prepares everything you need so you can launch your render fleet and is completely managed by controls from within the Deadline monitor, so customers can see all their resources — whether cloud-based or on-premises — all in one place. If a job is interrupted on a Spot instance, Deadline will automatically restart the job elsewhere to keep renders running smoothly for customers.”

What is the benefit of using Deadline with the AWS cloud? 

“Deadline 10 users will enjoy a simple and secure connection to the AWS cloud, which provides an incredible amount of scale to render, simulate and complete their projects. These built-in controls access Amazon EC2 Spot instances directly from within the Deadline monitor to provide these features cost-effectively.” 

How much can users scale using Deadline and cloud-based resources? 

“If you take into account the global reach of AWS, there is no limit; you can scale as far as your imagination will take you.” 

What does the Deadline 10 release mean for on-premises users? 

“Though cloud is increasingly being used in rendering workflows, on-premises farms are still a vital piece of studio pipelines. We’ve continued to focus on developments tailored for on-premises users. New additions to Deadline 10 include performances improvements via the remote connection server, flexible client configuration support for Autodesk 3ds Max 2018, Kolor’s Autopano Video, Isotropix’s Clarisse 3, Autodesk Maya 2018, Foundry’s Modo 11 and Nuke, Silhouette 6, Epic’s Unreal Engine (offline renders) and Autodesk VRED 2016. And, studios can also easily connect to AWS if they need additional resources.”

Anything else about Deadline 10 that you feel our readers should know? 

“We want our users to be able to leverage Deadline as the launch pad for their imagination by making it the most cost effective and flexible platform for rendering. Deadline 10 gives studios the ability to choose their software of choice, manage licenses in the way that works best for them, and access all machine types to better fit their workflows. Regardless of where the compute resources are located, everything can be viewed as one render farm, and all of the capabilities our customers expect from Deadline are available.”