Dell Helps Tippett Studio Animate the Twilight Saga Wolves Faster with Five Times More Detail
Dell is enabling Tippett Studio, the Academy Award™-winning visual effects studio behind many major motion pictures including The Twilight Saga, to scale their business while increasing quality and productivity. With Dell solutions, Tippett Studio is able to deliver five times more shots to their clients each week and increase nightly rendering almost fourfold within their existing footprint and at no additional power consumption.
In the fast-paced industry of film production and animation, the scalability of Dell hardware and flexibility of Dell financing has helped Tippett Studio respond quickly to difficult client requests. Prior to working with Dell, Tippett Studio was challenged with a costly, outdated IT infrastructure that struggled to support the complexity of their work to create photorealistic animations and effects, such as the wolf characters in The Twilight Saga series. Tippett Studio's render farm, network and workstations needed updating in order to meet their clients' demands for increasingly realistic images without taking up more datacenter footprint or power.
“When watching a movie like Breaking Dawn, it's easy to forget about the complex visual effects work that goes into the movie on the backend precisely because animation studios like Tippett work so hard to make the animation flawlessly realistic,” said Laurie Hutto-Hill, general manager for Dell Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment. “We're proud to be a part of this incredibly creative, complex process. Tippett Studio is a prime example of what our solutions can help accomplish in the media and entertainment space.”
“We chose Dell for two reasons: First is their approach to understanding and serving our needs,” said Sanjay Das, CTO, Tippett Studio. “The hardware was only one part of the equation. We weren't looking for a vendor; we were looking for a partner that would understand filmmaking and get creative themselves in crafting solutions including financing options for us. Dell stepped up to the plate and gave us solid options for meeting our needs. The second reason we chose Dell is that Dell ProSupport with Mission Critical provides better support and is more reliable than HP.”
To ensure the continual flow of artistic work, Tippett Studio worked with Dell ProSupport, Dell Financial Services and Dell Consulting Services to update its render farm and infrastructure in phases with new Dell PowerEdge C6145 servers, a Dell Force10 S4810 switch and Dell Precision T3500 and T5500 tower workstations and M6700 mobile workstations.
“Our space, power and HVAC limitations make Dell PowerEdge C6145 servers a good fit for us,” said Das. “They give us more processing power in the same rack space. We've increased almost fourfold the number of cores we can fit in one rack compared with what we had three years ago. Our render farm is now up to 3,000 cores.”
With Dell's Precision workstations and PowerEdge servers, Tippett Studio has gone from 9,000 hours' worth of rendering each night to 35,000 hours, increasing nightly rendering almost fourfold without taking up any additional space or using more power or cooling. Furthermore, the updated render farm allows Tippet Studio to produce five times the number of shots. Just a few years ago, the studio delivered no more than 200 shots a year to clients, and it can now produce 1,000 shots a year due to the high-density cores in the Dell servers.
Increasing render speeds and quantities in shorter amounts of time helps the studio create more life-like and detailed animated characters as represented by the increased level of detail in the animated wolves in The Twilight Saga: New Moon movie; 2 million hairs per wolf in New Moon to 10 million hairs per wolf in Breaking Dawn, Part 1, a five-fold increase in the level of detail.
Tippett Studio has also standardized on Dell Precision workstations. Dell came out on top after Das and his team tested Dell's Precision tower workstations alongside HP's and Apple's legacy systems. “The Dell Precision tower workstations performed much better than the HP systems,” Das said. In total, Tippett Studio has more than 200 Dell Precision tower and mobile workstations deployed across the company in areas including animation, art, FX, lighting, compositing and production management.
In addition to render farm and workstation improvements, Das chose to implement a Dell Force10 switch to “compensate for some of the limitations we have with our other switches.” Providing Tippet Studio and Das with extra peace of mind, Das reports that with Dell Force10, “we haven't had a single failure.”
In addition to enhanced efforts on The Twilight Saga and other major motion pictures, Tippett Studio has worked with Dell Financial Services to meet a variety of client demands including acquiring the technology needed for a particularly tricky request from Warner Bros. to animate an additional scene for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 movie in 10 weeks, a project that would normally take at least four months. By partnering with Dell Financial Services, Tippett was able to eliminate the access to capital barrier and increase its data center server cores by 30 percent in just one week to meet the Warner Bros. challenge.
“I sleep better at night knowing we have a technology partner that understands the complexities and challenges of our compute infrastructure,” Das said. “And during the day, my team can focus less on system administration and more on improving efficiencies in the workflow and improving the creative output of our studio.”
- Dell Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment
- Dell Customer Stories: Tippett Studio
- Dell Customer Stories: Tippett Studio Video
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