DataDirect Helps Batman Take Wing

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Companies with content-intensive requirements such as Pacific Title & Art Studio have few options when it comes to storage infrastructures. So to meet its need for an extremely fast and flexible storage solution, the post-production company turned to DataDirect Networks.

Pactitle, a Warner Bros. offshoot whose roots go back to 1919, creates feature film sequences ranging from Silent Era classics to present day hits such as Little Miss Sunshine and The Chronicles of Narnia. The company recently used DataDirect Networks’ S2A storage platform to produce dynamic theatrical trailers and visual effects for the Warner Bros. picture The Dark Night, scheduled to open in theaters later this month.

“DataDirect Networks’ storage products give us continuous storage playback with no interruptions in performance in real-time,” said Pactitle COO and CTO Andy Tran, who noted that this key storage feature opens up many work opportunities for the post-production company.

Today, Pactitle has about 100 terabytes of storage capacity on its DataDirect S2A storage platform. The company also utilizes about 500 terabytes of LSI NAS storage for rendering and computing.

Digital Demands

Pactitle has been a DataDirect customer for several years, particularly as the post-production company transitioned to an end-to-end digital shop for visual effects, digital compositing and opticals, 3D animation, digital intermediate and digital trailers.

“A shift in the paradigm in the industry to digital requires new storage performance that can meet real-time requirements,” said Tran, particularly when the post-production work requires the studio to do end-to-end playback or end-to-end color correction.

That just wasn’t the case when the studio’s artists only required playback in small chunks, such as working on three minutes of a smaller trailer, for example. “We never worked on an entire movie in a day,” said Tran.

While not all of the studio’s work requires continuous real-time playback, many new opportunities do.

So Pacific Title searched extensively for a storage vendor that could provide continuous playback and provide good performance while multiple users worked on the same data simultaneously.

According to Tran, there were several storage vendors who met the company’s criteria for performance in real-time — but not on a SAN. “These solutions could hook up to a local drive on a machine, but that didn’t meet our workflow need to share data,” he said.

Only DataDirect met all of Pactitle’s criteria, including a cluster file system.

Before purchasing DataDirect’s S2A storage system, Pactitle tested the product on site using its own data. The company was looking for a 4Gbps infrastructure, with 300 MB of read/write storage available anytime without interruption, and that could easily support four or five simultaneous users accessing multiple high-resolution data streams without interruption.

DataDirect fit the bill and integrated easily into Pactitle’s IT environment.

Expanding Needs

After the initial installation, the company upgraded to a newer version of the controller about nine months ago. The upgrade added stability to the system, according to Tran.

In the next six months, the post-production company will upgrade to the most recent controller release, which will support the workflow needs of up to 10 simultaneous users.

“The more people that can work together on a project, the quicker we can complete the project,” said Tran.

More importantly, as more industry directors are requesting the superior visual fidelity of the 4K digital intermediate process, up from 2K, post-production studios like Pactitle want to have the digital infrastructure, performance and bandwidth to compete for these high-end projects.

“At 4K, an enormous amount of data pumps through the system, and with DataDirect and the newest controllers, we can satisfy these requirements,” said Tran.

Already in the limelight with high-visibility projects such as The Dark Night, Pactitle not only wants to be on the technology curve in its industry, but ahead of it.

“DataDirect allows us the ability to expand,” said Tran.

And that’s good news for moviegoers.

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Lynn Haber
Lynn Haber
Lynn works as an editor-at-large meeting with new and established channel partners in the IT and telecommunications ecosphere. She works to understand what motivates partners, vendors, and distributors as they navigate growth in a dynamic industry. Lynn has worked as a business and technology writer for magazines, journals, and online media, and has authored hundreds of articles on technology, communications, business management, employment and careers, industry, and products.

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