Framestore Deploys PixStor And NetApp

VFX house Framestore deployed the PixStor and NetApp E-Series solution in London, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and Chicago. With this, Framestore can ensure performance and consistency across all five sites; can take a simplified approach to disaster recovery; and has a modular infrastructure to support multiple workflows.

“We often need to adapt quickly to accommodate multiple workflows like stereoscopic 4K and VR,” said Beren Lewis, global head of Integrated Advertising Technology for Framestore. “With Pixit Media's PixStor and NetApp, we get exactly the right balance of everything we need - the ability to control hardware costs, and the reassurance that we have partners that really understand our workflow and applications. Pixit guarantees performance to the edit stations in a model that we can easily reproduce globally.”

Framestore elected to strategically deploy the PixStor and NetApp solution in its award-winning integrated advertising division, which encompasses VFX (200 2D and 3D artists), finishing (19 suites), and rendering (a 7,200-core render farm). The performance of the system, in both video bandwidth and IOPS, enables all three of these workloads to run full out with no negative effect on the finishing editors’ or graphics artists’ user experience.

For instance, this high-performance single namespace allowed Framestore’s Los Angeles office to tackle two ultra-high-resolution projects concurrently. The studio spent several months with 60 VFX artists creating new 4K, 60-frame-per-second content for a major theme park ride. “In the middle of this production,” explained David Bees, lead systems engineer in LA, “Framestore took on a VR project that alone would have meant trouble for our previous storage infrastructure.”

“The system supported video preprocessing—decompression, warping, wrapping, and stitching—of multiple camera angles into 360-degree volumetric images for real-time VR playback,” said Bees. The project involved 20TB of source content, which when decompressed resulted in 70TB of content. During the heaviest days of processing, the PixStor component was running at 270,000 IOPS, which was at least several times what Framestore’s previous infrastructure would have been able to handle in a single namespace. Meanwhile, the theme park ride development workflow proceeded concurrently and unhindered by all the VR preprocessing.

“With the PixStor and NetApp solution in place, Framestore is positioned to bid on and deliver larger projects with confidence,” said Lewis. “Backups to remote colocation sites are syncing every two hours with no compromise at either the artist, render, or finishing workloads. And because the solution is easy to replicate, Framestore can easily meet its ambitious expansion plans.”

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