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18/08/2017

Aardman Invests In GB Labs To Power Their Animation Workflow

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Award-winning animation studio, Aardman, create film, broadcast, advertising and interactive entertainment. Their work includes Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run; to name but a few. Their feature films, commercials and broadcast work have been shown all around the world.

Aardman approached GB Labs initially because they were having problems with their existing SAN solution. Not only were upgrades disruptive to projects, but they also found that upgrading meant some of their hardware would become redundant which would waste money. GB Labs Echo bridge allowed Aardman to recycle their existing fibre RAIDs to carry on using them with their GB Labs solution.

Aardman is both MAC and PC, Premier is the main NLE and After Effects is used quite heavily along with Photoshop. The grade suite uses Resolve and the CG department is a mixture of Maya and Nuke. The GB Labs HyperSpace solution with the SSD acceleration layer is what Aardman was really interested in. The performance from this intelligent storage solution enables real-time playback for all clients needing to access media while simultaneously powering all rendering. This has greatly accelerated the process the Aardman team uses for output and final deliveries.

GB Labs systems are specifically designed for the broadcast, film and video industry so when a job is submitted to the Hyperspace unit, it understands that the job must be pulled immediately from the top level of the SSD storage straight into the render blades. This works great for very fast render times. Aardman has found that the render farm is often busy just before lunch time. GB Labs Core 3 OS provides network traffic graphs that clearly show spikes during that time and demonstrate that these systems are under heavy load. Regardless of the load the GB Labs systems continue to power the edit systems with real-time playback for any client review or agencies and clients that come in to watch.

Another key factor in selecting GB Labs was the excellent administration tools. Aardman is able to monitor who is putting the most amount of load on the the system at any point in time. In order to assure that creativity is never placed on hold, Aardman uses a 40GbE link from the GB Labs Space and Hyperspace systems into their media network along with a 10GbE link from the GB Labs Bridge into that same media network. This allows Aardman to have up to 35 CG artists working simultaneously. When rendering kicks off, that add another 60 render machines to the load. There's six edit machines as well in a grade suite. This brings the total to about 100 machines accessing the system at one time without skipping a beat.

When asked about GB Labs NAS based systems, Paul Reeves of Aardman replied: "Traditionally in this industry SAN has always been the king of the hill, but we found recently with the GB Labs system, that their implementation of NAS really has brought it to the party, and has made it a very very high speed worthwhile tool to use for production." The solution serves more than 40 workstations using DaVinci Resolve, Nuke, Maya, 3ds Max, Adobe Creative Cloud and also the 25 node render farm and includes the ability to expandable to 30TB of acceleration over 2.3PB of HDD, making this solution future proof.
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