With today’s official launch of Athera, its new VFX-studio-in-the-cloud offering for both software and computing power, Foundry has finally released full details on pricing and availability of different applications and rendering services.
Users can buy access to different applications available in the cloud — including Foundry’s Nuke, Cara VR and Katana and Side Effects Software’s Houdini — in 30-day blocks, which is roughly a monthly basis. Rendering, on the other hand, is billed by the second, though users are required to buy it an advance and on an hourly basis.
Foundry is hoping the options and pricing will have broad appeal to freelancers and small studios who prefer to scale up quickly in a virtual mode, potentially working with a team that’s widely distributed geographically, rather than keeping workstations and other hardware in place at a physical VFX facility.
Application pricing, which includes use of a virtual GPU-powered workstation running the software as well as the software itself, starts at $244/month for Blender and DJV View and scales up to $1,276 for Houdini FX. Some package options are available — Nuke X, normally $1,025/month, can be paired with Cara VR for an additional $80/month, and Katana is bundled with 3Delight — though there are no discounts offered at launch for users buying multiple packages.
Several “power” options are available at an approximate 20% premium for software running on a workstation that’s about twice as powerful as the standard hardware, Foundry said.
But don’t plan on running those virtual workstations 24/7 — in an FAQ, Foundry said the cloud workstations will be subject to a “fair use” limit that’s “typically” 200 hours per 30-day period, or the rough equivalent of 50 hours/week.
On the render side, batch-mode rendering for Nuke and Nuke X and 3Delight rendering for Athera’s Katana/3Delight offering is $0.43/hour. Cara VR rendering for Nuke X is $0.61/hour, and Mantra rendering for Houdini FX is $1/hour.
For a complete list of options, see Athera’s Pricing and Packages page.
Material is served to collaborators via a centralized cluster of high-speed SSD drives that draw data from each user’s cloud storage of choice. Supported storage sources include Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Google Cloud Storage, which are connected like an NFS mount to Athera’s virtual shared file system. The system has a web interface allowing users to organize projects, teams and security policies, and to easily switch between multiple projects, Foundry said, and presents itself as a Linux environment, allowing users to control the mounting of and access to storage volumes or write “init scripts” to set up the host environment before an application is launched and implement other customizations to the pipeline.
Foundry emphasized that Athera is pay as you go — the service is not sold as a subscription, so beyond the requirement that users buy 30-day blocks of access to applications, there are no recurring fees. And because Athera is, essentially ,a remote-desktop application as far as client computers are concerned, bandwidth requirements are relatively modest. Only 5-10 Mbps of bandwidth are required for a session, though a 25 Mbps stream is recommended for users working with 4K content; Foundry also suggests a ping to the nearest Google Cloud Platform data center of no more than 80ms (that can be measured here, using us-west1 or europe-west1). For those who are outside that spec, more regions will deployed over time, Foundry said.
There are a few more catches. If you use plug-ins or applications that require commercial licenses, they will not be available for use with applications on Athera. (Custom or non-commercial plug-ins can be loaded as usual.) There is no production-tracking toolset built in at launch, though Foundry says support for both Shotgun and FTrack are “coming soon.” And, unlike Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which allows users to run older versions of applications when necessary to maintain compatibility with a given project, only the latest desktop releases of software will be available through Athera.
Foundry is currently offering one-month free trials on a limited basis as the service is scaled up in the coming weeks, the company said. Trial requests can be made at the athera website. For more information on Athera’s capabilities, visit the Getting Started site.