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Seagate Enterprise Drives Break Bottlenecks for Animation Studio

When an award–winning Australian animation studio faced an uphill battle to deliver a critical project on time, it called on Seagate’s enterprise hard drives for a big storage assist.

The studio, The People’s Republic of Animation(PRA), provides animation for TV commercials, as well as for hit games for Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PSP, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Wii platform.

But with increasing demand for high–definition and 3D animation, PRA’s technology was stretched to the limits when it embarked on a high–profile project for Sony.

Sony’s wanted PRA to create a 90–second animated trailer for a new video game—a big project for a global client that could cement the Australian studio’s reputation as a leading player. But the studio faced a major problem:its server had slowed dramatically due to the massive production load.

With as many as 30 creative developers accessing the server simultaneously, network speed was sluggish, with a throughput of just 2MBs–per–second.

Seagate’s Constellation ES enterprise drives deliver ample capacity and round–the–clock reliability.

Downtime is Not an Option

“When you have so many people accessing the server in real–time, you can’t afford for it to go down, ” said Aaron Mellor, PRA’s technical director. “We knew at the outset that we’d have to upgrade our server to cope with the workload, otherwise we’d run the risk of compromising on our delivery of the project.”

PRA quickly got to work installing eight high–capacity Seagate Constellation ES hard drives. With Seagate drives, the studio was able to store, secure and share every animated frame seamlessly, with throughput speeds of 380 MBs–per–second. It was a huge jump in performance when compared with the studio’s previous server, which was equipped with four much–slower drives with a throughput of just 30MB–per–second.

The total project equated to 78,000 files–or 914GB. The large file size was no problem for PRA;each Seagate hard drive provided 2TB of capacity for data–hungry applications (in February, Seagate announced the Constellation ES.2 drive, which can store a whopping 3TB of data).

That extra storage capacity was especially critical to PRA’s creative team during the project’s rendering process, in which 3D images are generated from models using software programs.

“In the 3D pipeline, rendering is traditionally a bottleneck, so it was important to remove that, ” explained Mellor.“With rendering, it’s all about power and speed. Seagate’s Constellation ES drives delivered the storage, reliability and security we needed to complete the project within deadline.”

A film deadline

The PRA team had just five weeks to deliver the job to Sony;the client made it “very clear there was no room” for that deadline to slip, said Sam White, PRA managing director.

“After we installed the Seagate drives we hit every milestone, ” White said.“The finished trailer was on–air two or three days after we got it to the client. The Seagate Constellation drives and the new server played a crucial part in making the project a success.”

The speed and reliability of Seagate’s enterprise storage is helping the studio succeed in other projects as well.

“Seagate’s hard drives have put us in a position where we can take on more work for our clients, ” added White, “and we can have more people accessing the server and working on projects, without affecting system performance. We can turn jobs around faster and stick to our schedules with more certainty.”

And with more and more clients asking for 3D effects, demands on PRA’s storage performance is sure to grow.

“The need to render each frame twice—once for the left eye and once for the right eye—has effectively doubled the render load, ” explained Mellor.“But the Seagate Constellation ES drives are continuing to handle it well. Previously, we asked ourselves, ‘how on earth are we going to do it?’ We now have an answer to that:with Seagate hard drives.”

Note: For more on how PRA uses Seagate hard drives, click here to watch a brief video.

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