Puss in Boots: A Workstation on the Red Carpet

When you go see a movie premiere, like, say, DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots, you expect to see people like Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek sauntering down the red carpet. But what about all the people that are making the actual animation happen? You know, the teams of animators and  engineers that spent hours working on computers to bring these movies to life. In 3D, no less.

 

pibredcarpet.jpgWell, the Z800 Workstation – and its entourage – had a moment on the red carpet for Puss in Boots.

 

Yep, that happened.

 

OK, you get the point. What you might not know is that DreamWorks Animation relies upon HP  technologies to make their movies. This isn’t a new development, either. Over the past decade, HP technology has played an integral role in the “Shrek” series, “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Kung Fu Panda 2” to name a few. For this newest movie, “Puss In Boots,” 200 high-performance HP Z800 Workstations sat on artists’ desks along with billion-color HP DreamColor Monitors. What does that mean, exactly?

 

Here’s an example of what you’d find on average animator’s desk:

 

INSIDE THE Z800 WORKSTATION:

  • Two Intel (Westmere) Xeon X5670 2.93 GHz 6-Core Processors (for a total of 12 cores)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0
  • nVidia Quadro FX4800 graphics card
  • 24GB RAM
  • Two 300GB 15000rpm SAS Drives

 

KEY PERIPHERALS:

  • 24” DreamColor Color Accurate Display – 1900 X 1200
  • 24” Stereo Display – 1900 X 1200
  • Wacom Cintiq tablets

I look at that spec list and imagine what I’d do with that kind of power. (Oh, who am I kidding? GAMES!) It’s these sorts of machines that allowed artists to create complex tornados and cloudscapes, the furry cast and everything in-between.

 

Beyond what’s on their desks, HP also provided the networking backbone to pull all the pieces together. One part that seemed kinda neat (to me, at least) is how DreamWorks Animation worked in the cloud – HP Cloud Services, to be precise. Out of the 63 million hours of rendering time required for the new movie, eight million were rendered using HP Cloud Services, which represented 45 percent of the studio’s overall cloud computing needs. (I have no inside knowledge of this, but I sure hope that they threw in at least one LOLcats reference in one of those rendered scenes.)

 

If you’re heading out to the theaters this weekend, think for a second about all the horsepower required in the background in order to even make movies like this possible. And the guys that made it happen.

Labels: hardware
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