Post Magazine

JUNE 2011

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Page 47 of 51

ParaNorman P workflow Laika’s huge data needs for ORTLAND, OR— As the scope and complexity of animated motion pictures escalates to satisfy hun- grier and hungrier audiences, film companies face massive data challenges. During Laika studio’s production and post production of the Oscar-nominated Coraline, the studio faced a need to expand quickly and to con- siderably upgrade its storage capacity. Laika and Focus Features, responsible for Coraline, are re-teaming for Laika’s next two projects:The first of the duo, ParaNorman, will be released nationwide in August, 2012. Following Coraline, ParaNorman, directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, is currently only the second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies and calls on misunderstood local boy Nor- man, who is able to speak with the dead. DATA CENTER NEEDS With one facility in Portland and another 20 miles away in Hillsboro, and its second needs to increase artist collaboration and accelerate project completion. “IMT designed our new data centers and helped us through that complex implemen- tation process,” explains Jonathan Rozes, di- rector of IT at Laika (“Our most critical asset is the animation and CG artists, and the more iterations they can get in a fixed period of time, the better the film looks and the better it is for the studio. IMT understood the sensitivity and pressure of any kind of disruption, and got everything set up quickly and made the transition as seamless as possible.” Owned by Nike co-founder/chairman Philip H. Knight, Laika features two divisions: Laika’s Entertainment division, which pro- duces animated feature films and shorts, and Laika/house, the commercial division behind animated cam- paigns for Frito Lay, M&Ms and Planters. Prior to Isilon, Laika’s tra- ditional NAS system segregated its range of workflows across dis- “We need our artists focused on the cre- ative process, not waiting for render jobs to finish or content to migrate, so a single, shared storage resource that can accommo- date a range of access patterns and perfor- mance requirements is a game-changer for us,” explains Rozes. “Before Isilon, we had to manage our workflows separately, which made management a hassle and limited our productivity. By moving to Isilon, we’ve con- solidated our entire production operation on one, simple solution, which not only min- imized management, but helped expand our bandwidth for new projects.” Laika deployed three tiers of Isilon scale- out NAS — the high-performance 5400S for its IOPS-intensive compositing workflow, the 10000X-SSD for metadata-intensive This studio prepares for its next 3D stereo job. Jonathan Rozes (one of the Hillsboro work- shops is inset): “We need our artists focused on the creative process, not waiting for render jobs to finish or content to migrate...” much-anticipated animated feature already in pre-production, Laika didn’t want to change course and invest in an expanded brick-and- mortar data center. Instead, they called on In- tegrated Media Technologies (IMT) to design and implement two portable 20-foot storage containers to house all of its new data trans- fer and storage solutions. As a result, Laika has deployed more than a Petabyte of EMC Isilon scale-out NAS as the primary storage platform for its end-to- end animation and computer graphics work- flow, simplifying its huge data management 46 Post • June 2011 parate file systems, complicating manage- ment, slowing application performance and limiting artist collaboration. THE SET-UP Working with IMT and using Isilon’s SmartPools software application, Laika has unified three performance tiers into a single file system, consolidating its compositing, computer graphics and stop-motion work- flows onto a single, shared storage resource, streamlining production operations and im- proving IT efficiency. computer graphics apps, and the 12000X for highly concurrent stop-motion effects. Using SmartPools, Laika has simplified management to less than one full-time equivalent (FTE) and unified all of its pro- duction operations on a single, shared pool of storage. Additionally, using Isilon’s NL-Se- ries in combination with its asynchronous replication application SyncIQ, Laika can backup its projects to a secure, reliable off- site cluster, ensuring maximum data availabil- ity and business continuity in the event of data loss or disaster. “IMT has an excellent understanding of the feature film industry, and animation in par- ticular,” adds Rozes.“After we evaluated com- petitive proposals, IMT asked the most intelli- gent questions and came up with a solution that was the best fit for us,” says Rozes.“The fact that they decided to go with Isilon was a reflection of their knowledge of the industry and what our needs were.”

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