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New Game of Thrones visual effects studio powered by Dell kit

Antony Savvas | May 2, 2014
New hardware reduces rendering time significantly

Spin VFX, the visual effects studio for HBO's "Game of Thrones", has selected Dell to supply the IT infrastructure for its new location in Toronto.

Spin VFX's portfolio includes more than 70 feature films and 13 television series, including "The Borgias", "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One & Two", "After Earth", "Underworld: Awakening", and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".

Dell worked with third-party industry specialist Island Digital to design the updated technology infrastructure at Spin VFX's new studio space, and to ensure the hardware was tested and ready to go as soon as the move was complete. A fast turnaround was essential to avoid downtime and delays.

Spin VFX has 50 full-time artists, but needs to scale-up to accommodate as many as 125 during peak production periods. This staff comprises animators, designers and artists, who use processor-intensive applications such as Pixar's Renderman, Autodesk's Maya, Side Effects' Houdini, and MARI, Katana and NUKE from The Foundry.

Spin VFX often has several shows under production simultaneously, with some generating upwards of 20 terabytes of data.

To handle this workload Spin VFX selected six compact, energy-efficient Dell PowerEdge R420 rack servers, equipped with Intel Xeon E5 processors, 48GB of memory and 600GB hard drives. The servers allow the artists to share their work and collaborate across the 10Gb Ethernet network.

On the artists' desks, Spin VFX installed Dell Precision T5600 workstations with Intel Xeon quad-core processors, NVIDIA Quadro 4000 video cards, 32GB of memory and 500GB SATA hard drives.

These are paired with Dell UltraSharp U2413 PremierColor monitors - 24-inch diagonal display monitors that feature Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array (WUXGA) technology, and which offer both a 1920x1200 pixel resolution with a 16:10 screen ratio, and a 1920x1080 pixel resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The new workstations are said to have helped reduce rendering time "significantly", which represents turnaround efficiencies for the studio's artists.

Neishaw Ali, president and executive producer at SPIN VFX, said: "When the time came to move our studio we were able to minimise our production disruptions, because Dell and Island Digital had everything staged and set up in advance. I've never seen such urgency and attentiveness in all my decades of working with technology suppliers."


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