San Diego, CA — Cinesite, the London-based digital effects studio, has gone live with Load Sharing Facility (LSF) from Platform Computing. The company, whose film work includes Sphere, Lost in Space, Batman & Robin, Jerry Maguire, and The Avengers, is already using LSF to maximize the availability of its computing systems.
Following trials at the end of 1998, the company went live this year with the workload management and productivity suite. The company recently finished working on Twentieth Century Fox’s new film Entrapment, and is also working on the live action feature adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
“People come to us for two reasons: for the creativity and experience we bring to the digital aspects of film, and because we guarantee to deliver on time and to budget,” commented Colin Brown, managing director for Cinesite. “LSF helps us deliver this vital second aspect. By maximizing our computing resources. LSF helps ensure that we deliver.”
The reliance and workload Cinesite places on its computing systems is considerable. Processing a single frame typically involves handling up to 12MB of data for a single image. However, this can easily go up to 100MB. The scale of the processing requirement becomes more apparent when realizing a typical shot undergoing manipulation lasts from 4 to 6 seconds and there are 24 frames in a second.
“Our systems have to be able to handle 40 to 50 shots on-line at any one time and for simple frames this means working with 2TB of data. With all our artists and designers wanting to use the systems on-demand, managing this workload used to be challenging,” said Kevin Wheatley, technical services manager at Cinesite. “Because LSF helps control all computing resources, keeping every processor active even when users log-off, we now simply submit our work to LSF. We’ve stopped thinking in terms of individual workstations or servers. Every machine is a server now.”
LSF has become the de facto standard in workload management software for UNIX and NT systems. It has been widely adopted by digital content creators (DCC), supporting all major film and animation companies in North America and across Europe. By enabling interactive, batch and parallel jobs to run distributed across the network, LSI helps make full use of all workstations and servers. It also dynamically manages job priorities, enabling rush jobs to take precedence over longer running work. The result is that when jobs are given to LSF, it chooses the most appropriate resources and makes use of them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cinesite currently uses nearly 80 SGI workstations and servers. Some of these machines are running with 24 processors and 2GB of RAM. Cinesite found that considerable resource could be wasted if someone went to lunch or attended a meeting. Now, LSF dynamically identifies all available processors and brings them to work on live jobs.
“We had to go through a slight re-education process with our users, but this was more than offset by the amount of system resources we have freed up,” said Wheatley. “We have actually increased our existing capabilities by maximizing our existing systems with LSF.”
For more information visit http://www.platform.com