NEWS

NetApp and Pixit Media Boost Global Performance and Scalability for Framestore

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Images Courtesy of Framestore, Warner Bros Studios, Heyday Films, National Geographic 


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World-renowned visual effects company relies on PixStor and NetApp for fast, reliable content access,
while promoting business continuity and disaster recovery

Pixit Media today announced that it has teamed with Netapp to deliver industry-leading postproduction and VFX house performance and scalability to Framestore. Framestore is an Oscar-, Emmy-, and British Academy Film Award–winning creative studio.

Well known for its work on blockbusters such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Gravity, and global brands
such as Guinness, Coke, AT&T, BMW, and Geico; Framestore deployed the PixStor and NetApp® E-Series
solution in London, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and Chicago. With its new solution in place,
Framestore can ensure performance and consistency across all five sites; can take a cost-effective,
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 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.”

The world-renowned British visual effects company needed a storage solution that would be scalable
enough to support its growing business. The solution also had to be fast enough so that studio artists could
manage a steady stream of super-data- intensive postproduction and VFX projects without any delay or
downtime.

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. This capability is revolutionary within an industry that traditionally partitions off these
three workloads to keep the artists from grinding to a halt.

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 Los Angeles, “Framestore took on a VR project
that alone would have meant trouble for our previous storage infrastructure.”

“The PixStor and NetApp 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.

Framestore combined the Pixit Media PixStor software-defined scale-out storage solution with NetApp E-
Series, the storage array preferred by postproduction houses, large broadcast production workgroups, and
boutique 4K facilities. With this combination, Framestore deployed a fast and tightly integrated storage
platform for media workflows.

“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.”

More information:
 Stop by the Pixit Media Booth at IBC 2017, 15-19 September in Hall 7, Stand K01