As modern visual effects (VFX) studios continue to move creative workflows into the cloud, Arch Platform Technologies is providing secure, cloud-based infrastructure for studios and vendors to scale teams from anywhere in the world. Built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Arch packages together a complete VFX workflow – workstations, rendering, and storage, providing users with easy access to flexible resources. The result of years of development, refinement, and significant beta testing, the latest generation of the Arch Platform was most recently deployed to handle 2D compositing for a feature film by Solstice Studios to create large scale VFX for thriller “Unhinged.”

“Moving visual effects in-house on a film or episodic production can provide big benefits for the project. When VFX teams are more tightly integrated in-house during post-production, costs are reduced, coordination increases, review processes become shorter and the overall process more efficient, which Arch enables,” said Laura Teodosio, CEO, Arch Platform Technologies. “Infrastructure can be accessed on a per-project basis, which removes the challenge of managing upfront setup costs and dealing with depreciating assets once a project wraps.”

In addition to allowing productions to shift costs toward an operational model, Arch simplifies remote work setups, a feature that proved key for completing “Unhinged” on time amidst a global pandemic. Teodosio explained, “Since the Solstice Studios team was already working in the cloud on AWS with Arch, they were able to quickly pivot and work from home. Not even a day of productivity was lost during the shutdown because artists could simply log in from their homes rather than the shared office.” 

To date, the majority of Arch’s customers have preferred fully-managed deployments, which   Arch is able to stand up in as little as an hour for 2D compositing pipelines. When building a new facility for a customer on AWS, the Arch team starts with an AWS CloudFormation template. From there, they build out customized virtual machines using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) G4dn instances, a render farm, shared storage using Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), and a licensing server for clients to bring their own creative application licenses, such as Foundry’s Nuke or Autodesk’s Maya. An API integration with Autodesk Shotgun allows Arch users to submit work to the farm for rendering with AWS Thinkbox Deadline, and then send it to key stakeholders for review. Intermediates and VFX reviews can be done using Moxion, and users connect to the Arch platform on AWS using Teradici Cloud Access Software, which streams pixels – but not data – to end-users for added security.

“The breadth of services that AWS offers makes it easy to build our comprehensive solution, an end-to-end VFX studio in the cloud. Arch customers receive the benefit of AWS services combined with our domain expertise offered through a streamlined interface and with straightforward pricing,” noted Teodosio. Arch migrated to AWS in order to scale the platform and capabilities for a large studio. “Moving to AWS has allowed us to innovate more quickly to provide powerful and increasingly cost-effective solutions for our customers. Working closely with the AWS team, it has allowed us to scale our platform in ways which had been previously impossible for us,” said Edward Churchward, co-founder and CTO of Arch.

Because Arch is built on AWS – the cloud provider with the broadest and deepest footprint, the platform is available globally. This allows productions to expand their access to talent as well as capitalize on local tax incentives. Arch is currently optimized for 2D compositing but its capabilities can be extended to 3D and animation pipelines. The company has also been moving into virtual production, helping customers create dynamic backgrounds for shooting on LED stages. In addition to Solstice Studios, Arch has been used on productions by other major studios and by VFX firms such as Lexhag, Connect VFX, FatBelly VFX, and Track VFX, among others. 

“Arch simplifies access to powerful VFX infrastructure on the cloud. Instead of investing in physical hardware or building out a complex technical front-end, users can spin up on AWS via Arch from anywhere in the world in minutes,” concluded Teodosio.