Visual-Effects Firm Zooms Into Action
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With a little help from Dell, Framestore was able to open a visual-effects facility in Montreal in record time, complete with end-to-end computer and networking equipment.
By William Atkinson
Framestore is a London-based visual effects company that is responsible for movies such as Avatar, Gravity, Iron Man 2, and the title sequence for Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. Framestore has been working with Dell to expand its business presence in North America, deploying end-to-end Dell solutions in support of current big-budget projects such as RoboCop and Edge of Tomorrow.
Framestore and Dell already enjoyed a long-standing business partnership in the U.K. Partly as a result, Framestore selected Dell to provide infrastructure equipment for its new visual-effects office in Montreal, Canada. It was necessary to complete the office, starting from scratch, in less than 12 months due to a large number of upcoming movie projects.
The new studio facility enables Framestore to take on film opportunities in North America and utilizes the services of the region's community of artists and technically skilled workers. In fact, the Montreal office is now home to 150 artists, producers, software developers and engineers.
"Just over 12 months ago, we began planning our expansion into Montreal and quickly realized the challenge of building the site infrastructure after it had opened for business," says Framestore CTO Steve MacPherson.
Framestore's entire machine room was commissioned with Dell's participation, including racks, cooling, storage and rendering equipment. "All of this combined to make the planning process straightforward, while the execution and delivery were both efficient and cost-effective," says MacPherson. "Dell has made a firm commitment to the professional engineering desktop, and we can see that in the build quality of the machines we are purchasing."
Framework and Dell worked together to select the following solutions:
—Dell T3610 and T5610 workstations for the management of extensive day-to-day digital work, such as image modeling, rigging, animation, lighting and compositing.
—Dell PowerEdge M610 and M620 blade servers, which bring photo rendering and advanced physics simulations to life.
—Dell PowerEdge T610, T620 and R320 servers for remote access for Framestore's U.K. team.
—Dell Networking M6620 switches and networking wireless solutions, which provide fast and secure access to Framework's files and catalog of content.
—Dell Precision T5600 and T7600 workstations, as well as OptiPlex 990 and 980 and XPS 8700 desktops, to meet the creative needs of the Montreal team. "The Dell Precision T5600 is a world-class workstation that addresses the key requirements of demanding tier-one, visual-effects artists," says MacPherson. "As we move forward to increasingly advanced levels of simulation and photorealism, having this power on the desktop presents a wealth of creative opportunities for our artists."
One thing that MacPherson particularly likes about Dell is the ability to have direct contact with the Austin, Tex.-based company. "There is another computer manufacturer that, if I want to talk to them, I have to talk to a reseller, who then talks to a distributor, who then talks to the channel partner for that company," he says. "Any time I would have a question or require adjustments to a quote or a spec, it would have to crawl through that chain. At Dell, I have an account manager. This speed and efficiency is vital in the business we are in."
As a result, Framestore was able to set up its new Montreal facility quickly and easily. In addition, the facility has been able to grow rapidly enough to hold one-third of Framestore's U.K. visual-effects capacity in terms of equipment, with this number expected to increase to one-half in the near future.
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett /Rex Features
About the Author
William Atkinson is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Inside the Data Center Transformation," click here.