Animal Logic casts spotlight on Cloud computing

Sydney-based animation and visual effects studio, Animal Logic, is investigating the adoption of Cloud computing to handle data generated by rendering digital images — but only if an affordable Cloud model can be developed in the near future.

Animal Logic head of IT, Alex Timbs, told Computerworld Australia that Cloud computing was on the agenda but affordable pricing models, connectivity and support for software rendering technology needs to be guaranteed before the company could start adopting Cloud technology.

In-depth: Cloud computing strategy guide.

“We have a feeling that in the next 12 to 18 months there might be a model that works for us,” he said.

“The Cloud computing model would be of most value for large rendering projects. Every three months during computer generated imagery [CGI] film projects we need to increase our rendering capability.”

Traditionally, Animal Logic has used the storage services of its technology partner, HP, to deal with three-month cycles when its storage needs can jump from 70 terabytes to 200 terabytes.

“Because of the sheer amounts of storage we need on demand, it would need to be a Windows Azure or Amazon Web Services model that has huge capacity lying idle,” Timbs said.

“In most circumstances we would prefer to have the data based in Sydney and operate a very fast network so it’s completely seamless when we are rendering film images.”

Animal Logic also has to make allowances for the United States lt;igt;Patriot Actlt;/igt; which gives US authorities the power to access data stored overseas if it is owned by a US company. As a majority of the company's customers are Hollywood film studios, Timbs said it would consult with its clients first before going ahead and implementing a Cloud model.

Since the popularity of three dimensional (3D) CGI movies gained momentum, Animal Logic has doubled the amount of capacity from the 400 terabytes it needed to render lt;igt;Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoolelt;/igt; two years ago and is set to replace its HP 220c Blade, DL and ProLiant server blades as part of a three-year refresh cycle.

“We’ve also got a storage project underway to increase the existing storage cluster,” Timbs said.

“We’re looking at backup and archiving because storage is doubling and the amount of data we put to tape is also increasing.”

He said tape is its preferred method of archiving because of the lower costs compared to disc archival, and the majority of its customers are still using tape for archiving.

The company will soon be increasing its storage needs as it is currently rendering The Great Gatsby which was shot in Sydney last year, a Lego feature and a film based on the BBC television series Walking with Dinosaurs.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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