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Industries & Applications

7 Amazing Facts About the Big and Fast Data Behind Blockbuster Animations

We’ve experienced a revolution in the production and distribution of entertainment and content. We’re thrilled to be able to share how we and our partners at Avere are helping one of the world’s leading animation houses, Illumination Mac Guff (known for The Secret Life of PetsMinions, and more), build a next level infrastructure to support its fast-growing production pipeline, artists and global active data.

Here are some amazing facts about their IT environment and the fast-paced growth of digital content in media & entertainment:

  1. The studio has an 80,000-core render farm with six petabytes of production-data capacity
  2. The number of active artists per film has doubled
  3. A three-second delay at an artist workstation is not tolerable
  4. I/O demand nearly tripled to 1.2M IOPS on Despicable Me 3 Singin 2016
  5. Dataset size nearly tripled in Despicable Me 3at 2PB compared to Despicable Me 2
  6. Alldigital assets remain online after the film is complete to engage audiences longer
  7. This year the Despicable Me franchise became the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time worldwide[1]

To manage these stunning requirements, Illumination Mac Guff chose the combination of Avere Systems FXT Edge filers and our ActiveScaleTMsystem. The joint solution delivers a cost-effective storage system with required performance, massive scalability and high durability at petabyte scale. Most importantly, it enables full creative freedom for their artists: “The Avere and Western Digital® technologies make it possible to fully support artistic intent—we don’t have to be the IT team that restricts creativity, telling artists and directors that their visions are too expensive,” said Bruno Mahe, Head of Technology at Illumination Mac Guff.

Avere’s FXT Edge filers ensure highest performance to both desktops and the studio’s render farm while the ActiveScale system gives the combination of speed, petabyte scale, durability, and the economics of cloud in an on-premises data center.

The revolution in the production and distribution of media uses next-generation technologies to deliver experiences that viewers never forget. The combination of fast data and big data allows studios to make these experiences possible and to quickly access and monetize their creative assets over the long-term. “Even using sophisticated heuristics we can’t predict which assets artists will need, so the entire asset library must be online and reliably available.” said Mahe.

Like Illumination Mac Guff, organizations of all size have a critical opportunity to generate value from data. Your data lives forever. 

Want to learn more about Illumination Mac Guff and their IT infrastructure? Read the case study here.


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Stefaan Vervaet
As a storage expert and director of global strategic alliances for HGST’s Cloud Infrastructure business unit, Stefaan Vervaet heads up the partner ecosystem driving innovation and business growth for HGST’s scale-out cloud and storage solutions.Stefaan brings 15 years of experience in the data storage and backup industry. As a business-focused technologist with an extensive start-up background, he brings a unique perspective to HGST. His background includes product management and go-to-market positions in the backup space (Veritas), as well as technical sales and support executive positions in the object storage world (AmpliData).As an innovator with a proven track record, Stefaan successfully helped build startup companies like DataCenter Technologies, a dedupe technology (acquired by Veritas in 2005) and Amplidata, a leading object storage vendor (acquired by HGST in 2015, a Western Digital Company). Immediately before joining HGST, he established and built the US office running technical sales, support and operations worldwide for Amplidata.Stefaan holds a master’s degree in Applied Informatics from the University of Ghent, Belgium and is currently based out of HGST’s San Jose headquarters.