Growing VFX Storage: Studios Expand Operations with Storage

Posted October 25, 2016 by Mike Bott — Senior Systems Engineer. Filed under Trends.

In 1974, Phillippe Petit stepped off the edge and into history with his high wire walk across the Twin Towers. But the exhilarating feeling of taking those steps through the sky could only be experienced in our imagination. That is until Atomic Fiction, a VFX Studio with offices in Oakland and Montreal, helped bring that day back to life in the movie The Walk.

In order to bring us back to New York City in 1974, the team at Atomic Fiction had to re-create the entire city digitally. In all, they worked on 270 shots for the film. Add that to the 465 shots for Star Trek: Beyond and 250 shots for Deadpool and you have two very busy offices creating enormous amounts of data and growing VFX storage needs. If Atomic Fiction was going to grow their business operations to match their creative output, they needed a storage partner that could keep up.

Storage Provider as Partner

Currently, Atomic Fiction has hundreds of terabytes of Qumulo storage in both their Oakland and Montreal location. But it wasn’t always this way. A few years ago, they were beginning their Canadian expansion and needed a new storage option to match their growth. Their artists were using tools like Maya and NUKE, and there wasn’t a good place to store the work-in-progress projects. They started with 120TBs of Qumulo in Montreal, and quickly realized they would need more. In the August issue of Post Magazine (page 25), Atomic Fiction talked about their growing VFX storage, saying “pretty much every project involves both studios in some way. Everyone in each office works off a Qumulo platform.”

When it came time to expand their storage, Atomic Fiction planned to add more QC24 nodes to their existing cluster in Montreal. But after talking with Qumulo, they found a better way for growing VFX storage for both locations. By upgrading to a QC208 platform in Montreal, they could get over 500TBs of capacity. Further, they could send the QC24 to the Oakland studio to bolster production across the continent.

Rapid Storage Innovation Further Drives Growth

While helping find the right Qumulo configuration is one of the ways we partner with studios, it is hardly the only way. Because Qumulo releases an updated version of our filesystem every two weeks, the IT environments in studios like Atomic Fiction are constantly improving.

For instance, their latest upgrade gave them 30% more usable space and increasing performance. Another recent update moved metadata for the file system onto SSD to accelerate metadata access. “Every new release has cool new features and performance enhancements.”

Growing VFX Storage for the Next Level

Whether you’re part of a studio that is expanding across a continent or starting to take on more projects, it is clear that growing file sizes and resolutions are causing rising storage needs for media studios of all sizes. When figuring out how to manage growing VFX storage, it is important to find a provider that has the technology and people in place to keep pace.

Qumulo’s team of storage experts are always available to discuss your IT strategies, schedule some time now. And, if you want to read more about Atomic Fiction’s environment, download the case study.

Mike Bott
Senior Systems Engineer
I get to work with absurdly smart people on a daily basis and know I'm making meaningful contributions to a company that is disrupting the storage industry

Mike is a Systems Engineer with over 15 years of experience in shared high performance mass storage systems primarily for TV/film, internet media delivery, and supercomputing applications. His specializations include shared filesystems, clustered filesystems, NAS, SAN, and RAID storage.

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