A new company aims to give small animation teams something that has previously been available only to mega-studios like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks: a seamless and integrated pipeline for animation production.

Three former DreamWorks animators have teamed up to form the Nimble Collective and together create a first-of-its-kind cloud-based platform and community designed to help frustrated animated filmmakers everywhere.

The brainchild of animators Rex Grignon, Scott LaFleur, and Jason Schleifer, plus tech industry exec and entrepreneur Michael Howse, and announced at today’s Citrix Synergy 2015 Conference in Orlando, Florida, the Nimble Platform is an end-to-end solution for artists who want to create, collaborate, and ultimately distribute their work.

Watch a demo short made entirely within the cloud-enabled Nimble Platform:

“There are a lot of costs involved in making animation,” Grignon, former head of character animation on DreamWorks’s Madagascar series, told Cartoon Brew yesterday. “We just want to make it very easy for artists to start creating and start collaborating.

“I’ve worked on big productions that have made hundreds of millions of dollars, and while I’ve got a very nice salary in my career, the artists working on those films really don’t benefit proportionally to the success of what they create.”

Nimble founders (l. to r.) Michael Howse, Jason Schleifer, Scott LaFleur, Bruce Wilson, and Rex Grignon.
Nimble founders (l. to r.) Michael Howse, Jason Schleifer, Scott LaFleur, Bruce Wilson, and Rex Grignon.

Though currently in its pre-alpha stage, the Nimble Platform will allow the user to access the best professional software tools available—as long as they already have the appropriate user’s licenses—in a single, integrated and intuitive interface within a secure cloud environment. Utilizing low-latency streaming technology, the platform will allow users to work with graphically intense applications like Photoshop and Maya within the cloud enjoying all the responsiveness of a local-running application.

“You don’t require a high performance workstation; you don’t require all the networking and collaboration technology,” said Howse. “We’re providing all of that as part of a personal facility that resides in the cloud.”

From there, the platform will allow the user to easily share work with others, allowing a project to pass smoothly through the various stages of a pipeline, including rendering (which now takes place in a cloud), right through to revenue-generating online distribution channels—which themselves only take a couple of clicks.

A subscription to the platform will be “moderately priced”—$60-$100 a month per user license—with a free version to be made available for limited use.

Nimble will help would-be animated filmmakers everywhere overcome the otherwise insurmountable hardware and software costs that don’t trouble the big studios, Grignon says.

“DreamWorks and Pixar and Disney—we love them—but they’ve all invested millions in infrastructure and pipeline and the things that we’re talking about,” said Grignon. “We’d love to help people get together and launch a studio tomorrow, for example, for the price of a subscription. I see so many amazing ideas that never end up getting made. I know personally from my very large circle of friends that there are a lot of frustrated animated filmmakers out there. And there’s a real demand for it.”

Nimble has already raised $1 million in seed funding, with additional funding rounds in the works.

Other key figures within the young company include CTO Bruce Wilson, who was a software engineer at both DreamWorks Animation and Google, and v-p of engineering George Bruder, who has worked on streaming technologies at Ooyala, YouTube, and Netflix.

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