You Need 3,500 Servers by When?!

By By Dennis Barker, GRIDtoday

July 7, 2008

The boss wants something up on the Web site to promote the company’s new Product X, and he wants something different, something grabby, something animated, with some video and music … something now. (For full effect, imagine this in the voice of Larry Tate, of “Bewitched.”)

Creating a snazzy presentation suitable for business is not something that usually happens on demand. Typically, this would require a production crew of some sort. If you’re lucky, your multitalented in-house Web developer or media wiz could handle it — when (and if) there’s nothing else to do.

Animoto Productions is now offering a service that makes it ridiculously easy to produce short clips of images and music for commercial use. The innovative little startup made news last year when it introduced a similar service for consumers, aimed at individuals interested in promoting themselves. Animoto for Business uses the same core technology but has a few key differences, such as access to licensed music tracks.

The simplicity of Animoto’s service is part of its value and attraction. Here’s how it works: You go to the Animoto site, upload the images you want to include in your clip (photos of the new product line or whatever), choose the type of music, and click. Animoto’s engine chugs away for a few minutes — running on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) — mixing images and music into a tightly assembled montage. Finished videos can be embedded on your site or downloaded and distributed on disc, used in presentations, e-mailed to clients, and so on.

The brains behind Animoto used to work in the entertainment biz and video production, and they’ve brought that knowledge to the company’s intellectual property — something they call “cinematic artificial intelligence”: Algorithms essentially perform the tasks of a film editor or director, synchronizing images and music, cutting between shots, adding transitions. The software has an ear for music, as it were, and can time the visuals to the beat.

“The idea is that the technology takes into account the rhythm, the genre of music, the song structure, and applies that to the way the images are presented,” says Brad Jefferson, Animoto co-founder and CEO. “The pace of the video matches the energy of the music you’ve chosen. We’re able to apply a distinct motion design to every video.”

Animoto for Business costs $99 per user for 3 months or $249 for a year, which covers unlimited copies of videos and access to licensed music tracks. (OK, you can’t have “Spirit in the Sky” for your video anthem, but the tunes Animoto has come up with aren’t bad, and they’ll avoid hassles with the copyright police.) The subscription cost is nominal compared to the price of hiring a non-CPU-based video producer, which easily could run thousands of dollars for a similar type of clip, and then look out if you want to make changes. A decent Flash programmer could create something Animoto-like, but there is no way he or she could do it in minutes, and certainly not for the price. A big part of the service’s value is that it’s self-serve.

“This is an easy way for any size business to produce their own professional-quality video,” says Jason Hsiao, Animoto president. “It’s totally hassle-free, and takes just a few minutes. Our customers are seeing a lot of creative uses. They can put these videos on their Web site or in e-mail blasts to promote a product, use it in presentations, at a trade show, or they can put it on their iPhone and take it on the road. They can use it to open a presentation at a conference, or stick it on a flat-screen monitor in a bar or restaurant.”

Animoto already has a group of businesses from a wide smattering of industries using the service. Smartsheet created an Animoto video to promote the new version of its Web application. Herman Chan, a realtor in California, shows properties for sale, interior shots backed up by a perky beat. He says Animoto gives him a way to make his listings “stand out in a sea of houses.” Getty Images, owner of the world’s largest picture database, is using Animoto to highlight additions to its collection. A restaurant, winery, and IndyStar.com (online version of the Indianapolis Star newspaper) also are users. The best way to see what Animoto’s system can do is to check out the samples at business.animoto.com.

The Animoto engine does not yet handle video streams, so you won’t produce videos that look like a movie trailer or an ESPN highlight reel. But that will change. “We’ve only scratched the surface,” Hsiao says. “We’re figuring out how to incorporate full-motion video, and other media types or specialized formats. We’re not yet TV broadcast-quality, but we’re close. There’s so much more we can do with our core engine.”

A Perfect Case for the Cloud

Animoto uses Amazon Web Services to render its creations. The company’s on-demand model makes sense on so many levels that Animoto is a sort of poster company for cloud computing. When they were first developing their system, the Animoto team didn’t know what to expect in terms of audience reaction. “We bought five big machines with twin motherboards and eight processors a piece to handle the video rendering,” says Stevie Clifton, Animoto’s chief technology officer, “but owning that much hardware starts you down the slippery slope of having to maintain your own stuff, and that was not what we wanted to do. We also had no idea how many servers we were going to need to handle demand in case the service took off.”

As it happened, “we started hearing about Amazon Web Services and cloud computing,” Clifton says. “It sounded good from a business point of view to not have the computer overhead, and it would be so good not to have to deal with the maintenance and headaches. But it was also such cool technology. We just didn’t know how we were going to take advantage of it.”

Animoto ended up working with RightScale, a company that provides tools, expertise and automated technology to help companies run scalable applications on Amazon’s cloud. “Even though we were a small company, we knew we might have to scale up like a very large company,” Clifton says.

He was right about that. After promoting its create-your-own-video service to Facebook users, Animoto surged. During the course of four days, as thousands and thousands of people used the application, renderings per minute climbed from about eight to 450. At its peak, Animoto had 3,500 instances running on EC2. “It was totally crazy,” Clifton says.  “We were getting about 20,000 new users an hour. Because I had no clue how our systems were going to handle it, I had an IM window open with RightScale the whole time to help us monitor things. When you have 3,500 instances running, it gets kind of hard to track things.”

“If we hadn’t gone with the utility approach and gotten on the Amazon system, and had the help from RightScale, it would have taken us so much longer to get up and running,” Clifton says. “I would have spent so much time making sure we could scale, that everything would be okay on the hosting side … and that’s time I wouldn’t have been able to spend on the video engine — the thing that makes Animoto worth money to anyone.”

Condensing the value proposition of cloud computing into a bite-size serving, Clifton’s mindset says it all: “I have no problem paying other people to do something well so I don’t have to worry about it.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale computer. Intel also provided a glimpse of Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutting for the Expo Hall opening is Monday at 6:45pm, with the Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Read more…

By Doug Black

Microsoft Azure Adds Graphcore’s IPU

November 15, 2019

Graphcore, the U.K. AI chip developer, is expanding collaboration with Microsoft to offer its intelligent processing units on the Azure cloud, making Microsoft the first large public cloud vendor to offer the IPU designe Read more…

By George Leopold

At SC19: What Is UrgentHPC and Why Is It Needed?

November 14, 2019

The UrgentHPC workshop, taking place Sunday (Nov. 17) at SC19, is focused on using HPC and real-time data for urgent decision making in response to disasters such as wildfires, flooding, health emergencies, and accidents. We chat with organizer Nick Brown, research fellow at EPCC, University of Edinburgh, to learn more. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data Management – The Key to a Successful AI Project

 

Five characteristics of an awesome AI data infrastructure

[Attend the IBM LSF & HPC User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

AI is powered by data

While neural networks seem to get all the glory, data is the unsung hero of AI projects – data lies at the heart of everything from model training to tuning to selection to validation. Read more…

China’s Tencent Server Design Will Use AMD Rome

November 13, 2019

Tencent, the Chinese cloud giant, said it would use AMD’s newest Epyc processor in its internally-designed server. The design win adds further momentum to AMD’s bid to erode rival Intel Corp.’s dominance of the glo Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel AI Summit: New ‘Keem Bay’ Edge VPU, AI Product Roadmap

November 12, 2019

At its AI Summit today in San Francisco, Intel touted a raft of AI training and inference hardware for deployments ranging from cloud to edge and designed to support organizations at various points of their AI journeys. The company revealed its Movidius Myriad Vision Processing Unit (VPU)... Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Tackling HPC’s Memory and I/O Bottlenecks with On-Node, Non-Volatile RAM

November 8, 2019

On-node, non-volatile memory (NVRAM) is a game-changing technology that can remove many I/O and memory bottlenecks and provide a key enabler for exascale. That’s the conclusion drawn by the scientists and researchers of Europe’s NEXTGenIO project, an initiative funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program to explore this new... Read more…

By Jan Rowell

MLPerf Releases First Inference Benchmark Results; Nvidia Touts its Showing

November 6, 2019

MLPerf.org, the young AI-benchmarking consortium, today issued the first round of results for its inference test suite. Among organizations with submissions wer Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This