Students animated over new workstations

Students animated over new workstations

Balancing the power hungry demands of computer animation with the budget constraints of a publicly-funded education provider helped an Auckland reseller seal the first deal in Asia Pacific for Lenovo’s inaugural workstations.

Business Systems Solutions (BSS) has sold 24 single-processor Lenovo ThinkStation S10 workstations to animation training school Freelance Animation in Auckland.

According to Lenovo, this was the first order in the region for the workstations it launched late last year. The ThinkStation is the Chinese PC maker’s first entry into the workstation market.

The machines are being used to train Freelance Animation’s computer generated imagery (CGI) students, who will learn how to create animated characters in 2D and 3D form for movies, the web and TV.

BSS managing director Dean Hughes says the ThinkStation machines matched Freelance Animation’s needs in terms of both pricing and performance.

“These are pretty well specced machines. They feature the NVidia FX1700 graphics cards – one of the highest-end video cards with 520GB of memory.”

The Lenovo workstations replace a combination of three-year-old, locally-built TPG workstations and IBM IntelliStation machines.

BSS presented both the IBM and Lenovo units to Freelance Animation, says Hughes.

Although the S10s are new to the market, BSS had no qualms in offering them to the school. “We have a heritage as an IBM/Lenovo partner for 23 years. We like the products and know they work well and come with great local support, which makes our job easier,” says Hughes.

Pricing and performance, as well as local support, were important factors in the decision to buy the S10 workstations, says Freelance Animation general manager Cath Fournier.

The school is fully funded by the Tertiary Education Commission and therefore has a restricted budget for capital expenditures such as technology equipment. But at the same time it has to satisfy the needs of students, who have to train on the latest computers to prepare them for the demands of the high-tech CGI industry, Fournier says.

“We had to evaluate if the machines would give our students bang for their buck. The power and processing met our requirements.”

Freelance Animation has worked with BSS for more than four years, says Fournier.

“BSS is very relationship focused and has been very good with information sharing and problem solving. They really understand our business. We are pleased that we could pass the benefits of this relationship to the students.”

However, ensuring the S10s reached Freelance Animation in time was a tense task, as there was little room for error between the range’s expected availability and Freelance Animation’s expected delivery date, says Lenovo’s James Arnold. “We had to meet their strict timeframe. The ThinkStations were going to be available only about 10 days before the scheduled delivery date. It was exciting making sure that date was hit.”

The true test however is in the tasting, and when Reseller News visited the Freelance Animation campus it saw students hard at work on the new Lenovos. When asked how their new machines were performing, the response was unanimously favourable.

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