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December 23, 2008

Infortrend traps ‘Despereaux’

Framestore stores 200TB data of the animation work in Infortrend’s EonStor systems

By CBR Staff Writer

Infortrend has announced that it has offered high performance EonStor storage systems to Framestore for the studio’s full-length animation movie, The tale of Despereaux, which hit the theatres on Dec 19.

Framestore has used its in-house high performance computing system for creating the images of the film. This system was made up of a 200TB open source Linux cluster file system, Lustre, coupled to a 6000 core render farm. Production data was mirrored on a second 400TB cluster.

The storage cluster technology of Lustre, was combined with the open architecture of the Infortrend storage arrays, and server hardware from HP and Dell. At the peak of production the cluster was using 4700 of its 6000 cores for work on the movie. The processor cores are split across 1000 Dell servers each core having 2GB of RAM. 

Steve Prescott, technology director at Framestore, said: “Producing cinema quality animation generates huge volumes of valuable data. At peak working we were generating 5TB per night, so reliable high performance storage was central to our system design. We selected Infortrend’s EonStor storage systems as they gave us the capacity and flexibility we needed.”

As animation was done simultaneously with the development of the processing for final look, the demand on the storage systems was more. The systems were required to store intermediate stages of production data to avoid animation rework.

The production of the movie began in 2006. About 270 members worked to develop 40,089 individual assets; 25 hero characters and 12 secondary characters; and 60 hero environments, for the story, which revolves around a mouse called Despereaux.

Despereaux, with his small body, huge ears, and eyes open, falls in love with Princess of Dor, Pea. The princess and the mouse become friends after the love-smitten Despereaux rescues Pea from the clutches of a scheming rat and its companion.

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According to Prescott, 80% of the rendering for the film was done in the last three months of production. The project, which started with 50TB of storage, grew by an additional 150TB and the Framestore team has generated 90 million files.

Framestore mirrored and snapshot the primary storage, installing its own dark fibre 10Gb/s network between its three Soho production offices and a London Docklands data centre to replicate and back up the entire project across multiple locations each day. 

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