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It’s a wrap! Impressions from SIGGRAPH 2018 in Vancouver, Canada

RW Hawkins | August 27, 2018

After a week out-and-about in Vancouver, Canada, we’re back from SIGGRAPH, the leading event for showcasing the latest developments in computer graphics and interactive techniques. SIGGRAPH is the place to learn about the new technologies, trends and techniques that are changing the workplace for CG and VFX professionals.

A key element that’s supporting advancements in the production of VFX, VR, AR and immersive content is high-performance storage and we loved engaging with the SIGGRAPH crowd to hear about their latest project requirements and share how Panasas ActiveStor scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) supports their content demands.

Modern media storage infrastructure wish list

SIGGRAPH attendees shared their wish list for a modern media storage infrastructure, which includes the ability to support parallel creative activities and handle high resource demands from multiple sources. Ways to increase workflow efficiency and speed while maintaining maximum artist creativity made the list, as did the desire to reduce labor-intensive storage administration. Optimizing budgets by working with flexible components that can easily scale and adapt to meet dynamic business needs was another favorite. Basically people are looking for a robust, high-performance storage infrastructure that delivers the raw speed and management simplicity that allows everyone in the creative value chain to work faster and smarter. We couldn’t agree more.

Exhibitor Tech Talk: “Immersive, AR/VR Workflows: Mastery and Optimization”

To illustrate the capabilities a high-performance data storage infrastructure brings to teams that work on creating immersive content experiences, we hosted an Exhibitor Tech Talk titled “Immersive, AR/VR Workflows: Mastery and Optimization”. The talk highlighted the work done by our customer The California Academy of Sciences who engaged with us to support the latest visual effects and virtual reality workflows and technologies required to create the all-digital “Expedition Reef” planetarium show, an immersive content experience showing at the Academy’s Morrison Planetarium. With its 75-foot dome display, the Morrison is the largest digital planetarium in the U.S., featuring one of the most accurate digital universes ever created.

An all-digital show produces about six times the amount of media storage volume per production as a typical film. To produce “Expedition Reef” required 10.5 million render core hours just to create the virtual reef, an effort that generated an average output of 1.5TB-2TB of storage per day. The content is created by the Academy’s award-winning Visualization Studio using premiere visual effects and virtual reality tools and techniques–including Maya, Houdini, Nuke, and Clarisse. The Studio is UNIX-centric. Every artist has two Linux Mac workstations. The render farm is Linux as well.

Panasas ActiveStor is the core storage system used by The California Academy of Sciences for all their productions. ActiveStor scale-out NAS with parallel processing packs the punch you need to address the data-intensive media rendering and animation productions in VFX environments. Its scale-out storage infrastructure reduces congestion across multiple “vectors,” including bandwidth and capacity, by supporting small-file I/O requirements across multiple flash-based components, while parallel access to larger files such as IMF containers for DPX or EXR elements improves responsiveness to artists seeking to load and process shots rapidly. Consistent access to vast amounts of data, while also providing reassurances to manage a consistent repository of data that can be deduped, backed up, protected and kept secure is another key aspect of the capabilities delivered by ActiveStor.

Panasas on show floor: ActiveStor brought to life by AR

We’d be remiss if we didn’t use augmented reality to bring Panasas ActiveStor to life at SIGGRAPH. If you visited our booth you probably noticed our comparatively sleek booth space. But then you picked-up an iPad and was treated to an amazing AR tour of ActiveStor technology where viewers had a virtual, 3D experience of the individual system components up close. Check out this video to see for yourself.

As the creative community works on bringing VFX, VR, AR and immersive content to audiences around the world, Panasas is ready with a storage infrastructure that consistently delivers the performance, reliability, and flexibility needed for artists to create an exceptional entertainment experience.


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