Under a tight deadline, innovative studio replaces disk arrays on projection systems to greatly improve productivity and system reliability.
Visual entertainment companies, like Prime Focus, that convert regular film to stereoscopic (3D) are reaping the benefits of the recent surge in 3D popularity. When Warner Brothers challenged Prime Focus to convert “Clash of the Titans” to 3D in just eight weeks, they were quick to accept, even in the face of the Hollywood community’s skepticism. No stranger to innovation, Prime Focus was confident they could find a way to deliver quality work under the incredibly tight timeline.
At Prime Focus’s California office, artists checked work into a central server. Three times a day, they copied “reels” or segments of footage to projection workstations for review sessions with supervisors and studio heads. The review sessions were critical to give artists feedback necessary to remain continuously productive. Turnaround times for typical VFX projects can vary significantly, but with only eight weeks to finish “Clash,” Prime Focus artists would have to work more efficiently than ever.
Prime Focus’ proprietary View-DTM process greatly improved conversion speeds and quality. However, they still needed to eliminate the following pipeline bottlenecks:
The SanDisk® Solution
Sean Konrad, Project Manager for the conversion, told us, “With typical VFX projects, we complete about 20-30 shots per day. The Fusion ioMemoryTM ioDrive® cards scaled our data load capabilities by about 20 times. This improved our productivity about 2-4x.”
The ioDrive cards made this possible by delivering the following improvements:
Project Manager for Stereoscopic Conversion, Prime Focus
Eliminating Disk Maintenance and Improving Reliability
One of Prime Focus’ primary reasons for replacing their disk arrays with ioDrive cards was to ensure that disk array problems did not threaten their schedule.
Disk defragmentation rendered machines unavailable for review sessions for about two hours—precious time Prime Focus could not afford to lose. Additionally, Prime Focus did not want to risk failures in disks or RAID controllers that could require hours to restore.
Sean told us, “We had 60 artists working in the LA office. Suppose the review session for a segment that 40 artists were working on was delayed by 2 hours due to an array going down and needing to be rebuilt or because a defrag took too long. This could potentially translate into 80 hours of lost work for artists who were waiting on feedback. This was something we simply could not afford.”
SanDisk’s ioDrive cards did not need to be defragmented and had no RAID controllers to fail, virtually eliminating maintenance as a threat to their schedule.
Prime Focus had no spare time to design and architect a complex system that could achieve their efficiency goals. Administrators simply plugged the ioDrive cards into the PCI slot of their playback station and configured them, after which they appeared just as any hard drive would.
In fact, Sean told us, “It took absolutely no time to set this up. The IT department figured out a workflow that allowed machines to be up and running in under an hour, whereas tweaking RAID array distribution can really bog down production. We had the idea to add three machines on a Thursday, and by the following Monday they were in full production.”
Implementing Fusion ioMemory solutions gave Prime Focus the following benefits:
Sean told us that Prime Focus couldn’t be happier. “The ioDrive cards really helped us meet a tough deadline. Each review session covered far more shots and we could continue cycling work in between sessions. We don’t have to worry anymore about defragmenting disks, rebuilding RAIDs, or swapping out disks. We are buying many more cards to implement throughout our different locations.”
About the Company
Prime Focus is a Global Visual Entertainment Services Group. With facilities in L.A., New York City, Vancouver, Winnipeg, London, Mumbai, Goa, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai, Prime Focus operates across 3 continents and 5 time zones. Prime Focus specializes in providing creative and technical services for the Film, Broadcast, Commercials, Gaming, Internet and Media industries, operating across the entire Visual Entertainment Services sector, in every major market and at every stage of the project’s development. Prime Focus offers a unique proposition – a state of the art infrastructure and “Global Digital PipelineTM” working across three continents, giving access to industry-leading worldwide talent and global workflows, and allowing clients to realize substantial time and cost savings.