The creators of Animation Mentor opened worldwide access this morning to their new production platform, Artella, an end-to-end cloud-based solution for creating animated films, video games, and virtual reality projects.

Animation tech has been slow to catch up with the realities of contemporary production, which is often distributed across the globe. Today, even a short film may have an international crew—the director might be based in South America, the modeler in Europe, the animators in Asia. It happens all the time, yet managing even small-scale productions of this sort can be a headache for the producers.

Artella aims to streamline these type of productions with integrated communication, file management, and review tools. The platform provides template-based workflows tailored to films, video games and virtual reality content, and integrates seamlessly with popular production software including Autodesk’s Maya, Adobe Premiere and Photoshop, and Foundry’s Nuke.

Here’s a brief overview of how it works:

Artella doesn’t just provide a platform for distributed prouductions, it also helps connects creative people. If a filmmaker needs a rigger, or animator, or concept artist, or composer, they can look through the community and reach out to other people who have profiles on the platform. In fact, the whole idea for Artella was sparked by the desire to provide a virtual space for graduating students of Animation Mentor to find and collaborate with others.

“The world is full of talented creative people who have the tools in their home to make great content, but lack the professional network,” said Bobby Beck, who co-founded Artella with Carlos Baena and Shawn Kelly (all three of whom are industry animators with decades of combined experience at Pixar and ILM). “We simply wanted to find a way to bring them together from anywhere in the world and to give way to a new form of collaborative production studio.”

A member profile page on Artella.
A member profile page on Artella.

The cloud-based production pipeline should become a competitive space in the coming years with numerous options for animation creators. Another soon-to-launch entrant is Nimble Collective, started by former Dreamworks Animation employees. There are significant differences between Artella and Nimble, key among them being that Artella users work offline and sync their work in the cloud, while Nimble users work entirely in the cloud. Each solution has its pros and cons, so it will ultimately be up to creators to determine which of these platforms best suits the needs of their production.

There’s no fee to sign up or connect with other artists and projects on Artella. The company will make money by charging creators a monthly fee to use the platform based on the number of crew ($10-30, depending on the role). Artella is very clear that it does not take a cut of the compensation paid to artists (work contracts are negotiated traditionally between the studio/filmmaker and crew member) nor does it take any equity or IP in projects created on the platform.

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