Open Firehawk: Hybrid Open Cloud Infrastructure & PDG | Andrew Graham | SIGGRAPH Asia 2019

Open Firehawk is an initiative by Andrew Graham to automate direct access to cloud infrastructure at lower cost and with more control than prior solutions were able to offer. It also seeks to resolve issues of vendor lock in – it is open source, community focused and seeks to provide as much render power to artists as efficiently possible. Particularly for the Houdini user, it approaches heavy VFX scenarios by leveraging SideFX PDG to handle dependencies across multiple locations and avoids transport of heavy data unless necessary.

Open Firehawk automates creation of VFX architecture with open source infrastructure as code. The design is fully automatable, and uses tools like Hashicorp Terraform, Vagrant and RedHat Ansible to procedurally build out from scratch any onsite and cloud-based render nodes, schedulers (AWS Thinkbox Deadline), OpenVPN, and virtual NAS appliances (SoftNAS). This approach potentially enables usage with multiple cloud providers in the future. We provision Deadline as a scheduler which is free to use with AWS, and SoftNAS as it is the most affordable and performant NAS appliance that could be automatically provisioned in AWS with excellent support.

Andrew Graham
2019 marks the 20th year he has worked in computer graphics. In that time he has contributed to Hollywood film, motion graphics and architectural visualization. He’s worked for companies such as ILM, Weta Digital, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rising Sun Pictures, Image Engine and Macrograph and on films such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Dr Strange, Only The Brave, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and The Hunger Games. As an FX TD, he has a deep interest in tools that allow detailed images to be realized. He wants to interact with cloud compute resources more closely while making them as cost effective as possible. He’s started to build something with Open Firehawk that can help studios and individuals offload 3D rendering / simulation workloads with infrastructure as code that they can customize for their own needs.

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