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Nimble Collective Raises $8.5 Million To Develop Its Animation Cloud Service

High-end production pipelines, previously available only to major animation studios, will soon be available to everyone in the world. Nimble Collective, the tech startup founded by former DreamWorks Animation employees, announced this morning that it has raised an $8.5 million round of funding led by New Enterprise Associates to continue developing the animation industry’s first cloud-based, end-to-end platform.

The company also announced that three major figures from the feature animation industry have been added to its group of advisors: Mark Walsh (Partysaurus Rex), Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians), and Eric Darnell (Penguins of Madagascar, Antz).

Since announcing its launch last May, Nimble has worked toward developing a platform that it believes will revolutionize animation production for individuals and companies around the world. Nimble is bullish on the growing animation market, estimating 10 million professional and aspiring animation artists worldwide who could potentially become users of its services. The company is eyeing a beta launch in the second half of 2016.

“Millions of talented animators simply do not have access to the expensive studio-quality technology tools and big budgets currently required to bring high-quality creative projects to fruition,” said Michael Howse, the tech industry exec who co-founded Nimble with DreamWorks vets Rex Grignon, Scott LaFleur, and Jason Schleifer. “Nimble will change that by democratizing the market with the world’s first collaborative, cloud-based platform for generating content that animators can distribute and profit from in exciting new ways.”

 A view of Nimble's space in Mountain View, California.
A view of Nimble’s space in Mountain View, California.

Although the platform will require licenses for the existing animation software that artists already use, it shifts production and rendering capabilities to a secure cloud environment, allowing animators to have a complete workspace from anywhere in the world. A key component of the platform will be its community of users, which Nimble envisions as a marketplace for talent, allowing filmmakers to easily discover and hire creative collaborators to help them complete their projects.

“Nimble is delivering studio caliber tools and collaboration capabilities–all in the cloud–that free-up animators to do what they do best — create,” said Nimble CCO Rex Grignon, who was the head of character animation on DreamWorks’ Madagascar franchise. “Our goal is to enable a new generation of creatives to create, collaborate and prosper by building their own unique, modern content to reach huge audiences.”

The Mountain View, California-based Nimble currently has 18 employees and is working with artists on numerous pilot projects to help develop, test, and refine its cloud platform. Pricing details for Nimble haven’t been announced yet, but the company plans to offer multiple tiers, including a lower-priced one for artists using open-source software, to give as many people as possible access to the platform.

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  • @SpitAndSpite

    Cool! I just signed up for this! My decision was based almost entirely on the name Jason Schleifer.

    As a student and “professional” he’s continuously provided some of the best info/tools I’ve come across and I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Super super awesome.

    That being said, there are a few options (my buddy is creating a similar cloud released solution called the Mango Pipeline which shows great promise and has production cred already) but anything Jason is attaching his name to should definitely pique ones interest. The only real thing I take issue with is the number of millions.

    To be honest, this gives me pause as someone who produces on small projects every now and then between animation gigs I really hope its aim is to be workable, production ready tracking and publishing system of assets for animation oriented productions as opposed to the “millions” number which implies (perhaps wrongly- admittedly most likely wrongly) anyone w/ a vine account. Fingers crossed as I’d love the help and can’t wait to hear more. Also, where’s a brother get his hands on this beta pilot connection stuff?

    • Jason

      Thanks so much for signing up for more info AND for the incredible shout-out! That really means a lot to me, and I promise we’ll work our butts off to deliver something that helps you create amazing stuff!

      We’re jazzed that others are also working to create a cloud-based solution! It’s proof that people are excited about the potential for working in the cloud! There are many ways to approach this problem.. what’s great is that we all have the same goal of helping creators make great content.

      We’ll be putting out more information about a beta later in the year, and we can’t wait to get people outside our initial users working with us!

      Oh! The “millions” number is based off a world-wide number of creators.. not just animators, but riggers, lighters, compositors, td’s, directors, etc. :)

  • FM Hansen

    Sounds interesting but I assume 2D is not part of this equation or am I wrong?

    • 2D is definitely part of the equation, FM! (I know because I’m developing one of their possible pilot films).

    • Jason

      Hi FM!

      2D is totally part of the equation! Yay math! :)

      We love all forms of animation.. 2d, 3d, stop motion, sand, time lapse, imaginary.. whatever! If those formats involve any sort of digital work, we’d like to find a way to help. :)

      • UsaMiKo

        TVPaint?
        Toon Boom ?
        Clip Studio Paint?

        …. Please?

  • Patrice Jean-Baptiste

    Wait? Peter Ramsey is involved in this? Man, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Nice to see he’s still involved in animation :)

  • J

    If I start a studio later in my career this will definitely become part of it. Using this combined with Canada’s generous tax credits would decrease my overhead costs considerably.