LAIKA Calls on IMT for Data Storage and Management
Integrated Media Technologies announced that LAIKA, the studio that produced the Academy Award-nominated “Coraline,” has deployed EMC Isilon scale-out NAS as the primary storage platform for its end-to-end animation and computer graphics (CG) workflow, simplifying big data management to increase artist collaboration and accelerate project completion.
LAIKA and Focus Features, responsible for “Coraline,” are re-teaming for LAIKA’s next two projects. The first of the duo, “ParaNorman,” will be released nationwide in August 2012. Following the groundbreaking “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, is only the second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies and calls on misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead.
During LAIKA’s production and post-production of “Coraline,” they faced a need to expand quickly and to considerably upgrade their storage capacity. With one facility in Portland, OR, and another 20 miles away in Hillsboro, and their second much-anticipated animated feature already in pre-production, LAIKA didn’t want to change course and invest in an expanded brick and mortar data center. Instead, they called on Integrated Media Technologies to design and implement two portable 20-foot storage containers to house all of their new data transfer and storage solutions.
As a result, LAIKA has deployed more than a petabyte of EMC Isilon scale-out NAS as the primary storage platform for its end-to-end animation and computer graphics (CG) workflow, simplifying their data management to increase artist collaboration and accelerate project completion.
Working with IMT and using Isilon’s SmartPools software application, LAIKA has unified three performance tiers into a single file system, consolidating its compositing, computer graphics, and stop-motion workflows onto a single, shared storage resource, streamlining production operations and improving IT efficiency.
“We need our artists focused on the creative process, not waiting for render jobs to finish or content to migrate, so a single, shared storage resource that can accommodate a range of access patterns and performance requirements is a game-changer for us,” said Jonathan Rozes, director of IT, LAIKA. “Before Isilon, we had to manage our workflows separately, which made management a hassle and limited our productivity. By moving to Isilon, we’ve consolidated our entire production operation on one simple solution, which not only minimized management, but helped expand our bandwidth for new projects.”
LAIKA features two divisions: LAIKA’s Entertainment division, which produces animated feature films and shorts, including “Coraline”, and LAIKA/house, the commercial division behind animated campaigns for Frito Lay, M&M’s, and Planters. Prior to Isilon, LAIKA’s traditional NAS system segregated its range of workflows across disparate file systems, complicating management, slowing application performance, and limiting artist collaboration.
Working with IMT, LAIKA deployed three tiers of Isilon scale-out NAS — the high-performance 5400S for its IOPS-intensive compositing workflow, the 10000X-SSD for metadata-intensive computer graphics applications, and the 12000X for highly concurrent stop motion effects. Using SmartPools, LAIKA has unified these three performance tiers into a single file system, simplifying management to less than one full-time equivalent (FTE) and unifying all of its production operations on a single, shared pool of storage.
“IMT designed our new data centers and helped us through that complex implementation process,” explained Jonathan Rozes. “Our most critical asset is the animation and CG artists, and the more iteration they can get in a fixed period of time, the better the film looks and the better it is for the studio. Having an integrator that grasps high performance, massive data storage, and a reliable infrastructure is essential. IMT understood the sensitivity and pressure of any kind of disruption, and got everything set up quickly and made the transition as seamless as possible.”
Using Isilon’s cost-efficient NL-Series in combination with Isilon’s asynchronous replication application SyncIQ, LAIKA can back up its projects to a secure, highly reliable off-site cluster, ensuring maximum data availability and business continuity in the event of data loss or disaster.