BlueArc Storage Solution Powers Animated Film 9

BlueArc Corporation today announced that Canada's leading high-quality digital animation studio Starz Animation Toronto relied on a BlueArc storage solution in the production of this fall's highly anticipated feature film, 9.

August 4, 2009

5 Min Read
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BlueArc Corporation, a leader in scalable, high-performance unified network storage, today announced that Canada's leading high-quality digital animation studio Starz Animation Toronto relied on a BlueArc storage solution in the production of this fall's highly anticipated feature film, 9, the Shane Acker-directed Focus Features movie whose producers include Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov. Set for release by Focus in theaters nationwide on 9/9/09, the movie is based on Acker's Academy Award(R)-nominated short film of the same name. 9 utilizes unique and cutting-edge animation. Despite immense data sets, a tight production cycle, and the demands of producing three computer-generated imagery (CGI) films simultaneously, Titan's world-record-holding storage performance and capacity rose to the challenge.

"During the production of Focus' 9, it was critical that we have a storage system in place that would handle the massive demands of the three films we were animating concurrently. 9, in particular, has characters -- specifically the machines and the seamstress -- that generate enormous data sets during rendering," said Terry Dale, VP, operations, for Starz Animation Toronto. "The BlueArc Titan storage system gave us the performance we needed, the reliability we required and enabled us to complete our production on 9 without disruption."

For Starz Animation Toronto, and other animation and visual effects firms, downtime and aborted rendering jobs have a direct correlation to the quality of work artists produce. Like Starz Animation Toronto, most firms work on multiple projects concurrently, each with distinct and inflexible deadlines. Storage reliability and performance are critical to digital workflow, ensuring artists can generate as many renders as possible within the set schedule and budget.

The making of 9 left no room for downtime, given the tight production cycle and weight of three CGI films. With the render farm operating 24/7 and handling an average of 10,000 jobs each day -- with each frame comprised of ten to 200 layers of computer graphics -- it was essential that the storage infrastructure could handle the load. Starz Animation Toronto tried other storage systems in the past but experienced problems with data integrity, input/output bottlenecks and outages, causing delays in rendering frames and serious production challenges.

To meet the extreme storage demands with 9, Starz Animation Toronto depends on a cluster of three Titan 3000 storage units, which currently store a total of 330 terabytes of data. The BlueArc solution provides the capacity for current and future needs without compromise to performance. Titan also reduces artist wait times for source files by providing smooth, simultaneous user access to shared datasets."In the last year, we've increased the number of artists on our file system by 87 and underwent an upgrade of 200 nodes of rendering systems. BlueArc handles the workloads seamlessly and with ease," Dale said. "Titan's speedy desktop response times keep our artists happy, not frustrated, and allowing them to be more productive, providing higher quality work within shorter timeframes."

The Titan storage system is backed by BlueArc's unique filesystem, Silicon FS, which drives the entire architectural platform forward. The filesystem is the foundation that enables greater performance and scalability for the entire platform. Harnessing the power of SiliconFS, Titan allows a single file system to grow up to 256 terabytes and delivers throughput of up to 20 gigabits per second. The architecture adapts to changing application or capacity needs, thus simplifying management, accelerating productivity and protecting a customer's long-term investment.
About BlueArc
BlueArc partners with customers to solve their storage and data management-related business challenges. BlueArc's best-of-breed, high-performance, highly scalable and cost-effective storage solutions help to accelerate our customers' success. Information about BlueArc solutions and services can be found at
About 9
An action-packed adventure, director Shane Acker's animated fantasy epic 9 is the feature-length expansion of his Academy Award-nominated 2004 short film of the same name. The screenplay for the feature is by Pamela Pettler (Monster House); directors Tim Burton (Beetlejuice) and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) are among the feature version's producers.

The time is the too-near future. Powered and enabled by the invention known as the Great Machine, the world's machines have turned on mankind and sparked social unrest, decimating the human population before being largely shut down.

But as our world fell to pieces, a mission began to salvage the legacy of civilization; a group of small creations was given the spark of life by a scientist in the final days of humanity, and they continue to exist post-apocalypse. Another of their own, #9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), emerges and displays leadership qualities that may help them survive and possibly even thrive. The conflicted but resilient tribe already includes #1 (Christopher Plummer), a domineering war veteran and the group's longtime leader; #2 (Martin Landau), a kindly but now-frail inventor; #3 and #4, scholarly twins who communicate nonverbally and mostly with each other; #5 (John C. Reilly), a stalwart and nurturing engineer; #6 (Crispin Glover), an erratic artist beset by visions; #7 (Jennifer Connelly), a brave and self-sufficient warrior; and #8 (Fred Tatasciore), the none-too-bright muscle and enforcer for #1.

With their group so few, these "stitchpunk" creations must summon individual strengths well beyond their own proportions in order to outwit and fight against still-functioning machines, one of which is a marauding mechanized beast. In the darkness just before the dawn, #9 rallies everyone of his number to band together.While showcasing a stunning "steampunk"-styled visual brilliance, 9 dynamically explores the will to live, the power of community, and how one soul can change the world.

A Focus Features presentation in association with Relativity Media of a Jim Lemley/Tim Burton/Timur Bekmambetov production, 9 will be released nationwide by Focus Features on 9/9/09 -- Wednesday September 9th, 2009. 

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