Avatar: The Way of Water, presented Wētā FX with the challenge of delivering visuals of an unprecedented level of complexity and quality. To support the filmmaker’s creative vision, Wētā FX sought to ensure it had burst compute capacity available through scalable cloud resource.

In this talk we aim to present our approach to this problem in the cloud rendering space. We will provide an overview of the deployment of a large-scale hybrid cloud renderfarm, diving into areas we found challenging and of particular interest to the wider VFX community. Namely the deployment of a custom-built NFS re-export cache tweaked to deal with high latency, our approach to maintaining performant storage in the cloud, our solution to scheduling a large-scale spot fleet across 3 AWS regions and various challenges encountered when rendering at scale in the cloud. Within each section we intend to present scalability issues encountered, detail various challenges and our approaches to overcome them.