Framestore Deploys PixStor for Commercials Production

Framestore has deployed Pixit Media’s PixStor software-defined scale-out storage solution at its Los Angeles, London, and New York sites as central production storage for the advertising part of its business.

The deployment gives Framestore performance and consistency across all three sites, a cost-effective and simplified approach to disaster recovery and business continuity, and a modular infrastructure that is easy to manage and expand to support multiple workflows. "We've tried many flavours of NAS and SAN offerings, and we were really impressed with Pixit Media's PixStor. It provides speed and quality of service while giving us the freedom to purchase our own hardware," said Beren Lewis, Framestore's global head of integrated advertising technology. "With PixStor, we get exactly the right balance of everything we need — guaranteed performance, the ability to control hardware costs, and the reassurance that we have a partner that really understands our workflow and applications — all in a model that we can easily reproduce globally."

Renowned for its postproduction and visual effects work on blockbusters such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Framestore is also behind the advertising campaigns for global brands such as Intel, Stella Artois, BMW, and Samsung.

In Framestore's case, the solution combines Pixit Media's media expertise and file-system tools with best-of-breed hardware components, such as NetApp E-Series storage arrays and network infrastructure from Mellanox Technologies for the back-end storage network. Each of Framestore's sites uses multiple NetApp E-Series E5660 storage arrays with a mixture of 10K SAS drives and larger-capacity SATA drives, for a total of about 500 terabytes of usable storage per site.

“Large broadcast production workgroups and boutique 4K facilities, which have zero tolerance for dropped frames, rely on NetApp E-Series,” said Ben Leaver, CEO, Pixit Media.

“Operations can choose between RAID resiliency schemes, including Dynamic Disk Pools that dramatically reduce disk rebuild time, provide more consistent performance, and eliminate the need for hot or cold spares. Use of flash in hybrid arrays optimizes support for ancillary transcoding and rendering workflows. Phone-home features alert NetApp of potential disk failures before a hard disk fails, allowing the vendor or systems integrator to replace the drive without any impact on the production workgroup.

With the PixStor systems now online in three locations, Framestore is next planning to take advantage of the solution's built-in sync tools to implement fast disk-to-disk copy for disaster recovery and business continuity.

"We've earned our customers' trust through our consultative approach, proven technical competence, and added value," said Leaver. "The fact that Framestore is one of those customers is significant because it is one of the largest and most prestigious companies in the industry. This deployment is a real endorsement of what we offer the market."

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