Glukoza Production needed a more powerful environment to handle computer animation for a high-definition, full-length film. The company upgraded to a Windows®–based high-performance computing solution, which its IT team quickly deployed and which has led to up to 25 percent faster rendering. With that increased efficiency, Glukoza will be able to release its movie up to four months sooner and will be U.S.$200,000 more profitable on the project.
For Glukoza Production—a leading Russian computer-animation company—typical projects include commercials, music videos, and custom special effects for television. Recently, however, the company embarked upon creating its first feature-length film, which caused company decision makers to reconsider the technology that Glukoza used for rendering, composition, and dynamic calculations.
Previously, Glukoza relied on approximately 20 desktop computers that ran on the Windows® XP operating system. The company used Autodesk MENTAL RAY Standalone software to generate photorealistic images and Deadline software from Frantic Films to control the network rendering process. “When we were producing commercials and music videos, our technology worked just fine for us,” recalls Andrew Evdokimov, Creative Director for Glukoza Production. “But we needed to work in high definition for our film, and we recognized that our existing environment couldn’t provide the necessary power.”
For Glukoza, rendering a single high-definition frame with its environment took about 40 minutes. Therefore, at 25 frames per second, producing a movie that lasted more than an hour would have been prohibitively time-consuming. “We needed a computing environment with greater performance that could help us more easily manage so many render units,” says Evdokimov. “At the same time, we want our designers to remain productive, so we couldn’t afford the time it would take them to learn a whole new system.”Solution
Glukoza Production evaluated a number of high-performance computing (HPC) options, testing the Red Hat Linux operating system and a Unix environment, among others. “We saw that if we selected either of those systems, we’d not only have to train our personnel to use them, but we also wouldn’t have much technical support,” says Evdokimov.
||We'll be able to release our movie up to four months earlier because of our switch to Windows HPC. That means we can take on more work that much sooner and be more profitable within the same time period.
Instead, Glukoza decided to deploy the Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 operating system with the intention of upgrading to the Windows HPC Server 2008 operating system by the end of 2009. “We were surprised at how easy it was to deploy the system,” says Evdokimov. “We just followed the instructions and didn’t require any outside assistance.” The company began the testing process in November 2008 and was using the operating system for animation tasks by the following month.
As of March 2009, Glukoza has five employees using a Windows HPC solution for rendering, composition, dynamic calculations, and other animation-related processes. The company has 20 nodes on the system; Glukoza plans to quadruple that number by the end of 2009 to meet its timeline for releasing its full-length animated movie in 2010.
The company also is currently testing Windows HPC Server 2008, which it expects will further improve performance and system management. “Our IT team is looking forward to Windows HPC Server 2008 because of its tools for even more efficient management, such as the advanced administrative console and node-monitoring capabilities,” says Evdokimov.Benefits
Thanks to its use of Windows HPC technology, Glukoza Production is trimming several months from its production time and saving up to U.S.$200,000 in overall project costs—all without retraining users or IT staff. “With Windows HPC, we can focus on making movies, not worrying about technology,” says Sergey Lubinetsky, Chief Executive Officer for Glukoza Production.Improved performance by 25 percent
Glukoza has found that it can complete renderings up to 25 percent more quickly with its Windows HPC solution than with its previous environment. “Plus, we anticipate that we’ll save another 20 percent when we upgrade to Windows HPC Server 2008, due to the additional increase in our efficiency as a result of using the newer product,” says Evdokimov.Faster time-to-market by up to four months
Because Glukoza is reducing its rendering time and the time it takes to perform other calculations, the company expects that it will be able to save several months of work. “We’ll be able to release our movie up to four months earlier because of our switch to Windows HPC. That means we can take on more work that much sooner and be more profitable within the same time period,” says Evdokimov.Project cost savings of $200,000
Now, because animators can work more quickly, they can complete their work in less time, which means that Glukoza can reduce the fees that it pays for that work. “We have many specialists who are involved in production, but now that they can take advantage of the speed of Windows HPC, we can save approximately $200,000 in salaries and be more profitable,” says Lubinetsky.Easy system management
Glukoza has been pleased with the streamlined management of the new system. “Even though we’re handling server computers when before we used desktop computers, we’ve had absolutely no difficulties with management. It’s been easy and intuitive to learn to manage the Windows HPC environment,” says Evdokimov. “In fact, we experienced such a smooth transition that the only change that our users have noticed is that they can get more done now.”