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Old April 4th, 2012, 03:27 AM   #1
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DVD collectors sets & an interesting question

When shopping for DVD's, I normally by the extended or directors cut of a movie, as I like all the extras that come with them (ie the 12 dvd set covering the making of LOTR). One can learn a lot watching the documentaries on the making of a movie.

On the Avatar Blueray collectors set, There was an interesting tidbit about how the Avatar was rendered.

Weta workshops built a custom server farm consisting of 32,000 cpus, requiring 10,000 sqft of floorspace.. By far the biggest (and I assume most expensive) rendering system built anywhere in the world. They wrote their own “cloud” software, based on linux, to create, manage and render the film.

I'm curious as to the general design of that system as it seems to me a rendering system that is scalable from 1 computer to 1000s is smart way to do business. Does anyone know how they did it?

Thanks!
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Old April 4th, 2012, 11:32 AM   #2
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Re: DVD collectors sets & an interesting question

Moved out of Area 51, which is for jokes / rumors / weirdness, which this this is not.
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Old April 4th, 2012, 05:27 PM   #3
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Re: DVD collectors sets & an interesting question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Turcotte View Post
They wrote their own “cloud” software, based on linux, to create, manage and render the film.

I'm curious as to the general design of that system as it seems to me a rendering system that is scalable from 1 computer to 1000s is smart way to do business. Does anyone know how they did it?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beowulf_cluster

This Linux based technology scales to the 100,000 processor machines which are listed among the worlds fastest

http://top500.org/lists
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Old April 8th, 2012, 01:29 PM   #4
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Renamed: Interesting facts one learns from DVD Box set extras

Thanks Eric for the links. How the pros do things is of interest to me.

Your link to the Beowulf system is of interest to me as I've outgrown my current editing platform and I am tired of the continuous upgrade cycle that the Computer industry forces on the public. It make more sense to take advantage of low cost server farm technology - and grow computing power by 'adding to" as opposed to "replacing with" as one's needs and budget allows. Alias, all of the commercial cloud computing solutions now available are way too expensive.

I misnamed this thread I should have called it "Interesting facts one learns from DVD Box set extras"

Thanks
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Old April 8th, 2012, 10:34 PM   #5
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Re: DVD collectors sets & an interesting question

Quote:
...and I am tired of the continuous upgrade cycle that the Computer industry forces on the public
This would also be the case if you plan on designing scalable architecture. If an update halves rendering time while keeping the cost constant, I want to know about it!

Linux is used mainly for licensing issues. VFX films often write their own software as they scale - for the same reason. Commercially available software is bloated with features, which is great for the average shop, but a nightmare for a large network cluster.

Nothing beats a custom-made system in performance, but the downside is that you need a lot of talented manpower to run these beasts in top shape. Which is also why most of the VFX firms have large offices in India, where labor is cheap.

A really cool place to start learning about scalability is from Google itself. Their architecture is as custom and open-source as it gets.
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