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EDGE 2020 Goes Virtual
"Using the NetApp solution has increased throughput by four times and greatly reduced latency"
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Touchstone Pictures' King Arthur, released in Australia on July 15, was brought to life using the powerful Network Appliance™ enterprise storage solution, which housed the hundreds of visual effects needed by post-production company Cinesite to recreate the Arthurian legend on screen.
London-based Cinesite added in the region of 500 visual effects to the movie action, shot on location in Ireland, using a combination of 3D and 2D imaging. While the company's existing serving systems had previously been able to cope, the expansion of operation necessary to deal with King Arthur and other films in shortened delivery times required a change of direction.
Cinesite turned to Network Appliance to provide the capacity and performance its artists needed to complete the visual effects on time.
Peter Robertshaw, Technical Services Manager at Cinesite, said, "The needs of serving 2D and 3D artists and their associated render farms are very different. Network Appliance has provided solutions to both these in the form of its filer and cache product. We bought a NetApp storage solution for serving our 2D imaging team. We used to use a number of Linux and Irix servers, but they weren't capable of reaching the speeds and performance we needed for the 2D work on King Arthur. At its peak nearly 50 2D artists worked to create King Arthur. The process of compositing requires merging multiple layers together. Each film frame is 12.5Mbytes and there are 24 of those in every second. That means it is very storage-hungry. While we do not need real-time images, the concurrent demands of all those artists' machines and large, fast render farms needed an extremely powerful storage system that could cope with high volumes of both data and requests."
He continued, “We bought our initial NetApp storage system at the end of December 2003 with 6TB storage, but given the increasing amount of work we were doing on the film, scaled up to 14TB in February. The NetApp solution has enabled a fourfold increase in throughput and greatly reduced latency – we simply couldn't have completed our work on this film without it".
Cinesite has also utilised a NetApp NetCache DNFS cache, which allowed the 3D images stored on the Linux box to be held in cache and made it possible for the artists to gain access to the 3D images much faster than before reducing render times. Robertshaw continued, "The combination of both these solutions dramatically sped up delivery time".
Stuart Gilks, Director of Systems Engineering, Northern EMEA, Network Appliance added, "We recognised the pressure on the Cinesite artists to work quickly and it was vital to ensure this solution provided rapid data access with minimum latency and enabled them to meet strict film production deadlines. It's great to play even a small part in bringing this fantastic tale to the screen and it's a terrific benchmark for the British Film Industry."
Unlike other interpretations of the Arthurian legend, this Jerry ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Bruckheimer production of the story is more concerned with swords than sorcery and places the action against an accurate historical and political backdrop.
It's the first time such an effects-heavy Bruckheimer production has been post-produced in the UK. Cinesite has already enjoyed considerable success this year with its post-production work on summer blockbusters ‘Troy’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’.
Robertshaw concluded, "Cinesite is already working on its next portfolio of films and continues to utilise the technical advantages of the NetApp storage solution. Although there is a lot of hard work ahead, we take comfort knowing our data will continue to be highly available as well as fully protected."
Notes for Editors
About Cinesite Cinesite is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastman Kodak Limited and one of the largest full service visual effects facilities in the world, with offices in London, Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios.
Cinesite's extensive range of services includes digital effects, visual effects supervision, high resolution film scanning and recording, physical effects, models and model unit photography for feature films.
Current and future Cinesite projects include Hitchhiker's ‘Guide to The Galaxy’, ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’, ‘Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire’, ‘King Arthur’, ‘Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban’, ‘Troy’, ‘Sahara’, ‘Alien vs. Predator’ and ‘Alfie’. Cinesite is currently completing all of the digital effects and visual effects supervision on the major Bruckheimer/Disney film ‘King Arthur’.
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