Data Center Tech Blog

80,000-core render farm? Here are some stunning facts about the IT environment of animation studio Illumination Mac Guff, and just how fast digital content is growing in the media & entertainment industry.

Stefaan Vervaet

Sr. Dir. Strategic Alliances & Market Development

This year’s IBC Show was all about the revolution in the production and distribution of entertainment and content. We’re thrilled to be able to share how we and our partners at Avere are helping one of the world’s leading animation house, Illumination Mac Guff (known for The Secret Life of Pets, Minions, and more) build next level infrastructure to support its fast-growing production pipeline, artists and global active data.

Here are some amazing facts about their IT environment and the fast-paces growth of digital content in media & entertainment:

  1. The studio has a 80,000-core render farm with six petabytes of production-data capacity
  2. The number of artists has doubled to some 1,000, with per-film active more than doubling
  3. A three-second delay at an artist workstation is not tolerable.
  4. I/O demand nearly tripled to 1.2M IOPS on Despicable Me 3 Sing in 2016
  5. Dataset size nearly tripled in Despicable Me 3 at 2PB compared to Despicable Me 2
  6. All digital assets remain online after the film is complete to engage audiences longer
  7. This year the Despicable Me, franchise became the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time worldwide.[1]

To manage these stunning requirements, Illumination Mac Guff chose the combination of Avere Systems FXT Edge filers and our ActiveScaleTM system. The joint solution delivers a cost-effective storage system with required performance, massive scalability and high durability at petabyte scale. Most importantly, it enables full creative freedom for their artists: “The Avere and HGST technologies make it possible to fully support artistic intent—we don’t have to be the IT team that restricts creativity, telling artists and directors that their visions are too expensive,” said Bruno Mahe, Head of Technology at Illumination Mac Guff.

Avere’s FXT Edge filers ensure highest performance to both desktops and the studio’s render farm while the ActiveScale system gives the combination of speed, petabyte scale, durability, and the economics of cloud in an on-premises data center.

The revolution in the production and distribution of media uses next-generation technologies to deliver experiences that viewers never forget. The combination of fast data and big data allows studios to make these experiences possible and to quickly access and monetize their creative assets over the long-term. “Even using sophisticated heuristics we can’t predict which assets artists will need, so the entire asset library must be online and reliably available.” said Mahe.

Like Illumination Mac Guff, organizations of all size have a critical opportunity to generate value from data. Your data lives forever. Understand what that means, and how we’re changing the economics of data, in our upcoming virtual event – save your seat here.

Want to learn more about Illumination Mac Guff and their IT infrastructure? Read the case study here.


[1] http://deadline.com/2017/08/despicable-me-highest-grossing-animated-franchise-all-time-shrek-illumination-universal-box-office-1202143599/

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