MARZ Triples Capacity for High-Speed VFX GPU Rendering

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This media and entertainment VFX case study tells how out-of-this-world storage innovation enables GPU rendering with high performance, scalable capacity, and real-time analytics.

The MARZ distinction

MARZ is a different type of studio, starting with its name. Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ) is a Toronto-based VFX studio that efficiently delivers feature film-quality visual effects for premium television series, and specializes in character creation, alteration and replication. To view the studio’s portfolio, tune in to shows such as HBO’s Watchmen, Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys, and Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy.

MARZ’s fast turnaround times for its visual effects are radical for traditional TV production schedules. To achieve this, the team depends on an IT infrastructure centered around efficiency, performance and innovation.

MARZ uses high-speed GPU rendering clusters, game engine technology and artificial intelligence to produce its sophisticated effects. Leading VFX applications such as RedShift software accelerate its high-end production rendering. MARZ primarily uses Houdini, Maya, Z-brush, and Substance for animation, simulation, modeling, look development, lighting, and more.

Original high-end content with sophisticated and spectacular visual effects on broadcast and cable networks, as well as streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hulu, are blurring the line between feature film-caliber content and television programming. Studios and producers want feature film-quality VFX on a television production timetable – either distributing content week-after-week for episodic programming, or multiple episodes dropping on a single day.

Very few VFX studios have the technology or expertise to consistently produce high-quality effects on this demanding schedule.

Mission-critical GPU rendering

MARZ was under pressure with its aging legacy storage environment. The existing Isilon system was straining to support resource-intensive workloads, and turnaround times on projects were suffering. MARZ needed to accelerate GPU rendering performance and real-time VFX production, and they needed it urgently.

The challenge was to find a high performance, high density file storage solution that was highly available and linearly scalable, and that provided advanced analytics for storage capacity management. The right solution also shouldn’t require a warehouse-sized physical space to house the infrastructure. That level of power and efficiency, at a smaller size, doesn’t often come off the shelf, and most storage vendors are unable to meet those requirements.

“We designed our pipeline to produce feature film-quality visual effects for television, and to support the incredibly fast pace demanded by weekly episodes or a full season of episodes dropping on the same day,” said Farnia Fekri, MARZ’s Director of Marketing. “The post-production schedule provides a very short timeline to create quality effects. We chose Qumulo because its software allows us to deliver higher quality visual effects on a shorter timeline, and ensures that we fulfill our promise to our customers.”

According to Sebastian Bilbao, CTO, “Qumulo’s distributed file system has allowed us to scale with ease without disrupting production, and deliver premium TV projects with speed and quality, which are two critical requirements for our fast-growing company.”

Read the rest of the case study to learn about MARZ’ seamless migration, high-quality GPU rendering, and fast and efficient VFX workflows.

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