Animal Logic Contemplates Cloud Options for VFX Rendering

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Award winning visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic is an Australia-based company behind many blockbuster movies. To accomplish rendering on movies and keep pace with rapidly growing compute demands, the company has had to constantly evaluate on-premise equipment upgrades or cloud opportunities.

Animal Logic operates a supercomputer to perform rendering, which helped it win the 2007 Best Animated Feature Film Oscar for “Happy Feet.” In 2012 the company made an upgrade to its system, which resides in a containerized data center from IBM, located outdoors next to offices at Fox Studios in Australia.  The supercomputer was upgraded with 450 new HP blade servers with Intel CPUs (16 cores and 64GB memory), to bring total capacity up to 10,000 cores. It also has an EMC Isilon clustered storage system with around 500TB of primary data storage. See IT News for some images of Animal Logic’s systems.

Recently the company has been working on movies such as “The Great Gatsby”, “Walking with Dinosaurs” for the BBC and “Iron Man 3″.  With the demands of all of this computing power Animal Logic has had to look to its service provider Steam Engine for additional resources. The changing trends in cloud computing and supercomputers has left the company contemplating options for on-shore clouds and new supercomputers. There’s also Amazon Web Services, which announced its AWS Asia Pacific (Sydney) region late last year.

“We have definitely looked with great interest at Amazon Web Services and what they are offering,” Animal Logic head of technical operations, Xavier Desdoigts, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We are really trying to see whether it make sense for us to use those services.

“It is a horses for courses kind of set-up whether it makes sense for us to invest in our own capabilities or… use someone else’s services,” said Desdoigts. “Looking at the future is about what is the best level of capabilities for the next two to three years. Will there be a mix of solutions? Absolutely.”

For a sense of the kind of graphic effects Animal Logic produces, check out this before-and-after video from Chris Godfrey, the VFX supervisor on the film.

The Great Gatsby VFX from Chris Godfrey on Vimeo.

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