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Composable Infrastructure unleashes creativity at DreamWorks Animation studio

PaulMiller

 

DreamWorkds Image.jpgWe live in a world without dragons, yet we’re enamored by them. Many of the most watched movies and TV shows include dragons. Imagine The Hobbit films without Smaug or Game of Thrones without Daenerys’ dragons. It just doesn’t feel right. Yet the computational requirements for animating such large creatures are astronomical. In fact, DreamWorks Animation actually needed to cut the dragon from certain scenes in its 2001 animated film Shrek because she was too computationally heavy for their IT environment at the time.

In the past 20 years, DreamWorks Animation has produced more than 30 feature films, 13 television shows, and many franchises such as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, and Madagascar. For animation studios like DreamWorks, it often takes longer than their live action counterparts to release films; artists must draw each movement frame by frame so that actions are smooth and realistic.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that DreamWorks requires tremendous technological resources to make a feature computer-animated film. Not only does the team need to perform an average of 200,000 rendering jobs per day, while working on five to seven films at any given time, it also must ensure the artists do not face any application performance issues when working to stay on schedule.

During the making of the first Shrek film, DreamWorks’ infrastructure was struggling with current workloads, which meant that leveraging resources to test new character or film ideas were impossible until space was available. Since inspiration doesn’t strike when it is most convenient, and it was already maintaining a lengthy backlog of film ideas, DreamWorks let go of some of those creative ideas because the datacenter could not handle it all.

DreamWorks needed a more flexible environment to simplify how they provision resources so there were no limits to its creative aspirations. “We never want to be in a position again where we are tabling a great creative idea because we can’t resource for it,” said Kate Swanborg, senior vice president of Tech Communications and Strategic Alliances at DreamWorks. “What’s critical to us is that we’re actually about to provision the right amount of digital resource to the right project – quickly and easily. So as creative inspirations are growing and burgeoning at the studio, we’ve got the resource behind it in an effortless fashion.”

To address the issue, the IT team began implementing a hybrid environment that used both the cloud and physical servers across two different sites – one for business and one for rendering only – to meet enterprise storage and computing demand. But it soon became too labor-intensive and time-consuming because they needed to configure the network, storage, and compute in real time around the clock so the artists could work in the environment as new projects or inspiration struck. The process was far from effortless, and if they could not change the infrastructure, DreamWorks’ business opportunities would disappear in a puff of smoke.

After some research, DreamWorks was able to build a virtualized IT infrastructure that provided the resources needed for innovation using HPE Synergy, a composable infrastructure solution. Artists were able to access the resources they needed, and IT was able to better manage the network. By adding the management tool HPE OneView into the mix, automation and orchestration functionalities streamlined the process and made it possible to create more complex films and exceed audiences’ expectations.

“Something like Synergy will allow us to provision resources to new ideas and new potentials quickly enough, easily enough, and at a cost-effective measure, so that we can actually determine which creative endeavors are going to work,” said Swanborg.

DreamWorks Animation can now provision and re-provision resources almost instantly to suit creative demand. This flexibility and speed gave DreamWorks the ability to leverage the full ability of their infrastructure and consolidate the rendering and business infrastructure down to one. Since the first installment of Shrek and deploying the first HPE solutions in its environment, DreamWorks has been able to produce more complex films like the Shrek sequels and How to Train Your Dragon, where fantasy animals took center stage with the Viking characters who learned to train them. Now with HPE Synergy and HPE OneView, this great animation pioneer can continue to dazzle us with fantastic characters, tales, and sceneries –without IT putting the lid on the creativity of the animators.

To learn more about the DreamWorks Animation story, watch the interview below:

And download the free ebook, HPE Synergy for Dummies, to understand more about the power of HPE Synergy.

Related links: 

Paul

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Paul Miller
VP of Marketing, HPE

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About the Author

PaulMiller

Paul Miller is VP of Marketing for the HPE Software-Defined and Cloud Group business unit. The SDCG organization is responsible for marketing for HPE Synergy, HPE OneView, and Hyper Converged Solutions portfolio.

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