Dell Helps Soho VFX Siege the Castle in Time for Jack the Giant Slayer Premiere

Fri Mar 1, 2013 9:00am EST

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http://pdf.reuters.com/htmlnews/8knews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=urn:newsml:reuters.com:20130301:nBw015035a

* Soho VFX relied on Dell end-to-end technology to deliver Jack the Giant Slayer
project on a tight deadline 
* The studio created high-quality, photorealistic scenes on schedule by using
Dell solutions that decreased render times by more than half 
* Dell Precision workstations, Dell PowerEdge blade servers and Dell UltraSharp
monitors power 214 visual effects shots in the film

ROUND ROCK, Texas--(Business Wire)--
Dell`s comprehensive media and entertainment solutions helped award-wining
visual effects (VFX) studio, Soho VFX, deliver 214 visual effects shots on tight
deadline, without sacrificing quality, for today`s opening of Jack the Giant
Slayer, a fantasy-adventure film based on the Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and
the Beanstalk fairy tales. 

Using a combination of powerful, scalable Dell solutions including Dell
Precision T3500 workstations, Dell PowerEdge blade servers and Dell UltraSharp
U2410 monitors, Soho VFX created the stunning and highly detailed castle-siege
scene, realistic environment replacement shots, dynamic characters and other
action scenes with burning trees and intensive fire simulations. 

"With the short deadlines and pressure from the movie studios, we relied on both
the Dell workstations and render farm to keep production running 24 hours a day
while we continued creating different scenes," said Keith Sellers, 3D
Supervisor, Soho VFX. "Despite the stress on the systems, Dell`s solutions
provided both the stability and processing power we needed to get quality shots
done in time." 

Dell workstations and servers helped power the creation of vast environments,
including realistic flaming trees and water juxtaposed against the stunning
backdrop of the highly detailed castle. The studio also delivered an extremely
complex computer graphic (CG) forest comprised of more than 2.5 million
fully-modeled trees. This 30 second-long shot was so intensive that it required
more than 125 hours across 192 systems to be fully rendered. Even with such a
taxing lift, the Dell PowerEdge servers "were rock solid and enabled us to meet
our deadline," said Todd Michael Smith, Head of Information Technology, Soho
VFX. 

To film the castle shots in Jack the Giant Slayer, Soho VFX started with concept
art that was provided from the movie studio to build the 3D model of the castle.
The texturing department then used different materials and shaders to build on
top of that model, which was followed by a tracking artist who used the
background plates shot on set to match the movements of the camera digitally.
The dynamics team then added any smoke, fire or water elements that the shot
required. From there, a lighting technical director set up lights to match the
lighting of the background plate, and sent the shot to the Dell-based render
farm. Once the renders were done, the shot went to a compositor who integrated
all the different layers together, color-corrected and applied the final look of
the shot. If the workstations` memory were to fail or the servers were to go
down while rendering, delays could have vastly derailed months of tight planning
and could have cost Soho VFX substantial monetary loss. 

To help ensure this didn`t happen and to achieve these data-intensive visual
effects, Dell helped Soho VFX expand its render farm of Dell PowerEdge M610
blade servers by 20 percent in less than 10 days. The studio also upgraded the
blade servers with four core Intel Xeon 5500 processors at 2.26 GHz to six core
Intel Xeon 5600 processors at 3.06 GHz to better handle the intense needs of the
project. Dell met and exceeded Soho VFX`s timeline goals by one day and enabled
the company to decrease lengthy render times by approximately 55 percent. 

Soho VFX artists also credit the purchase of additional Dell Precision T3500
workstations in helping the dynamics, modeling and animation teams push through
deadlines and complete the project. They leveraged the systems to manage
extremely heavy data sets and to run high-performance and multi-threaded
applications like Autodesk Maya for 3D animation and The Foundry`s Nuke for
digital compositing. Certified for the top digital content creation
applications, Dell workstations have been Soho VFX`s workstations of choice for
more than eight years due to, according to Smith, "the systems` unflagging
performance and reliability." 

"We are extremely proud to have Soho VFX as a customer and partner for more than
eight years," said Chad Andrews, Dell Media & Entertainment vertical strategist.
"Soho VFX`s success with Jack the Giant Slayer serves as a great example of the
benefits Dell delivers to growing customers in the media and entertainment
industry. The visual effects production process is becoming increasingly complex
and requires high-end, reliable technology more now than ever." 

Toronto-based Soho VFX has been a player in special effects since 2002 and is no
stranger to the demands and pace of the film industry. Through the years, Dell`s
hardware has been able to scale with Soho VFX`s growth, enabling them to respond
quickly to difficult client requests while delivering visually stunning effects
in other recent movies such as The Incredible Hulk and The Love Guru. 

Additional Information:

* Dell on Twitter
* Dell Precision
* Dell PowerEdge
* Dell UltraSharp
* Dell Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment

About Dell

Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) listens to customers and delivers innovative technology
and services that give them the power to do more. For more information, visit
www.dell.com. 

Dell, Dell Precision, PowerEdge and UltraSharp are trademarks of Dell Inc. Dell
disclaims any proprietary interest in the marks and names of others.

Dell
Media Relations:
Katie Schaeffer, 512-728-3812
Katie_Schaeffer@dell.com
or
Lauren Mauro, 512-723-6957
Lauren_Mauro@dell.com



Copyright Business Wire 2013

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