Streamlining the Production Process

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-06-16 Print this article Print

It makes sense for a director to reuse footage-such as a background, a particular attribute of a character or some other element-whenever possible. Using the StorageWorks 9100 ExDS system, Chan said, DreamWorks Animation's artists now have much better access to archived content because it's all available in a fast, virtualized storage system and not stored on tape or on a disconnected disk.

"Our goal of delivering two to three CG-animated films per year means that DreamWorks Animation must keep finding ways to streamline the process of creating and delivering great stories for our audience," Chan said. "The new HP system gives us easier access to archived content in a easy-to-manage, highly scalable architecture."

Click here to read about HP's latest ProLiant server launch.

Chan means what he says when he talks about "easy to manage."

"Believe it or not, we only have three administrators handling all of this storage," Chan revealed. "Everything is automated."

The ExDS9100 consists of three primary components:

  • Performance block: The HP BladeSystem chassis with blade servers is designed for extreme capacity requirements. Each blade can deliver up to 200MB per second of processing performance. This can scale up to a maximum configuration of 16 blades with up to 12.8 cores per unit for a 3.2GB-per-second performance.

  • Capacity block: Base configuration starts with one high-availability "storage block" and 82TB of capacity. The maximum configuration supports up to 10 storage blocks and 820TB of capacity.

  • Software: The system uses HP scalable file-serving software needed for digital content environments. To reduce system complexity, applications can be run directly on the performance block. A single graphical management interface and simple commands allow the storage to be managed by fewer administrators. 
Before adding the ExDS9100 into its existing storage architecture, DreamWorks Animation staff were forced to search through backup tapes one by one to find the archived materials needed to start a new project. This slowed up production schedules, causing additional expense.

In addition to the archiving function, DreamWorks Animation will ultimately use the ExDS9100 as an online backup solution for ongoing projects. This provides artists with a real-time platform for sharing content-a very important factor in producing high-quality movies, Chan said.

For more information on the HP ExDS9100, go here.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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