Monday, 11 January 2010

Behind the Magic of Avatar

Weta Digital used more than 2,000 HP BladeServers to render the special effects in the blockbuster hit

By all accounts, the motion picture Avatar is a huge success.

People everywhere have been captivated by the film’s dazzling special effects. Critics have raved that there has never been another movie like it. Ticket sales worldwide have already surpassed US$1 billion.

And HP technology played a key role in the film’s production.

Weta Digital, a special effects studio in Miramar, New Zealand, was responsible for bringing to life the beautiful and mesmerizing virtual world of the planet Pandora. And Weta’s computing core ran on 2,176 HP ProLiant BL2×220c Blade Servers.

A recent article published by Information Management noted that this added up to more than 40,000 processor cores and 104 terabytes of RAM.

World’s largest rendering facility

Prior to 2008, Weta had been an IBM site, and our local HP New Zealand team worked closely with our Houston-based BladeSystem team to promote the ProLiant BL2x220 as an innovative platform for the studio.

Following the implementation of HP equipment, the Weta site has grown to become the largest rendering facility in the world. It now has a backlog of studio work and will be delivering leading-edge movies for years to come.

Powerful performance

The HP ProLiant BL2×220c BladeServers used to render Avatar provide industry-leading power efficiency and performance at an affordable cost.

Customers have praised the product for creating a “stable and scalable environment,” and noted that it “makes virtualization work fantastic.” In addition, customers have said it enables them to reduce their energy usage and associated carbon footprint while not compromising performance.

The HP team worked extensively with Weta Digital to run the system at optimum power efficiency, resulting in dramatic power and cooling savings.

Through water-cooled radiators, closed rack space, and passive rooftop heat exchangers, the data center stayed cool while running full time and often at full capacity, with no air conditioning. The cooling cost was equivalent to that of turning on a few electric water pumps.

Raves for Avatar

To date, in addition to breaking records at the box office, Avatar has been nominated for nine Critics Choice Movie Awards and four Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture. Critics have also given the film high marks and praise:

“For years to come, it will define what movies can achieve.”
Time Magazine

“An ambitious, fully immersive cinematic experience.”
Washington Post

“Avatar's shock and awe demand to be seen. You've never experienced anything like it, and neither has anyone else.”
Los Angeles Times

“What spectacle! Avatar is dizzying, enveloping, vertiginous ... I ran out of adjectives an hour into its 161 minutes.”
New York Magazine

“Combining beyond-state-of-the-art moviemaking with a tried-and-true storyline— and a gamer-geek sensibility... the movie quite simply rocks.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

What did you think about the movie??

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