Cinesite renders “The Addams Family 2” with AWS


Here we go again for the big cry! The Addams Family came back, and this time they’re going on a road trip. In an effort to regain their bond with their children, Morticia and Gomez decide to cram Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and the entire crew into their haunted RV and hit the road for one last miserable family vacation in an adventure across America.

Kevin Pavlovic and Laura Brousseau co-directed alongside Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon while moving into production on The Addams Family 2 shortly after the release of the first production.

Cinesite provided CG animation and digital visual effects for the sequel which features a range of iconic North American locations, requiring significantly more asset work than the first film, as well as complex visual effects. Prior to production, Cinesite Vancouver’s IT manager, Jeremy Brousseau, researched burst rendering solutions and ultimately settled on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Depending on the studio’s needs for the project, Brousseau and his team leveraged Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Spot Instances to economically scale beyond the studio’s physical capacity during production peaks.

“We have rendering resources on-site and in a colocation space, but we knew we would need more, especially towards the end of production. We needed to be sure that we had access to the compute resources we needed when the time came and that we could continue to use our favorite tools. So choosing AWS was an easy decision, depending on the scale we needed and our setup,” Brousseau said. Explain. “We were already familiar with AWS, so it was easy to go from nothing to full go-live in three days, even when setting up Qumulo in the cloud, and write simple scripts that render wranglers could use to rotate instances up and down based on demand.”

At the peak of production, Cinesite grew to 170,000 virtual processors (vCPUs) on AWS over a three-week period. Frames were rendered one per instance, speeding up turnaround times, minimizing artist wait times, and allowing for more frequent iteration. “Due to the increased complexity and fidelity of the assets as well as the scale of the environments, the overall computing power required to render this film was much higher than the previous film, and deadlines are still tight, so that artists could rely on their rendered images with AWS coming back when scheduled was a must,” Brousseau noted. “Whenever our needs exceeded our on-site capacity and a backlog developed , we could quickly and easily erase those frames with the cloud.”

Over the course of the film, the Addams Family visits scenic spots like Niagara Falls and Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park that are both realistic and stylized. Creating highly recognizable locations consistent with the vision of Cinesite film co-directors Kevin Pavlovic and Laura Brousseau required extensive environmental work, including heavy simulations and complex lighting.

Like many features released in 2021, The Addams Family 2 was created almost entirely remotely. Cinesite artists have been working from home since March 2020, connecting to machines located in the studio or colocation facility via VPN and streaming live to their home devices. While most of the film’s work was done by Cinesite Vancouver, its Montreal and London teams assisted as needed, with Adobe Photoshop and Substance Painter; Flix, Nuke and MARI from Foundry; Autodesk Maya and Arnold; Houdini of SideFX; ZBrush from Pixologic; Bumbling; and many other custom plugins and extensions supporting content creation. Render management was handled by Tractor, both on-premises and in the AWS Cloud.

To minimize erroneous render submissions, artists sent their work to render wranglers, who would appropriately assess and direct the footage with additional guidance from Cinesite’s team of global experts to help diagnose any rendering issues. made potential before going massively to the farm. As an added safeguard, Cinesite’s scripts automatically shut down cloud-based nodes when jobs finished rendering. Cost and resource tracking was done using AWS Billing Portal tools and a Prometheus database.

Brousseau concluded, “I spend a lot of my time sticking to budgets and considering burst rendering on the production of ‘The Addams Family 2’, so I knew what to expect. The first few days of using AWS, I kept a close eye on billing, but as activity and pricing lined up as expected, I relaxed a bit, and when all was said and done , my initial estimate turned out to be correct.


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