Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DreamWorks Animation used 80 million compute hours creating The Croods

The move to producing HD content for movie studios can’t have been a cheap one, but spare a thought for companies like Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, who are tasked with producing HD quality animated movies. The computing power required to render such movies is immense, as can be seen in DreamWorks’ latest animated feature The Croods.
It’s amusing to think that a movie set in the Stone Age has just set a new record for computer hours. When DreamWorks created The Rise of Guardians, the movie required 65 million compute hours to render. But The Croods has smashed that, with a record-breaking total of 80 million compute hours. That’s close to double the hours it took to render Monsters vs. Aliens back in 2009.
That’s not the end of the impressive stats, though. The Croods contains the work of 400 animators, which translated into 250TB of data that then needed to be edited down into the final release. Each character took 6 months to perfect and has 2,500 control points for feature manipulation. The final film has a pixel count north of 250 billion.
As for hardware, DreamWorks relies on 3,000 HP BladeSystem c-Class server blades combined with a server render farm consisting of 20,000 processors. It also has some very high bandwidth networking installed so as to allow artists and animators from around the world to contribute to projects. This includes a 10Gbps connection between the company’s Glenwood and Redwood City studios in California, as well as a 500MBps connection with India.
None of the data created for the project goes to waste. Around 70TB of it is already being accessed for other projects across all of DreamWorks’ productions (typically they are working on 10 at any one time). That data includes things that are easy to reuse, such as vegetation and backgrounds, but you can guarantee a lot of the animation loops will come in handy, too.

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