Fans know plenty about the effects wizardry at ILM, the creative juices flowing from Skywalker, and the innovation happening at LucasArts — but how much do fans know about the hardworking IT team who keeps everyone properly plugged in and working smoothly?
Computer World magazine chats with Kevin Clark, director of IT operations for Lucasfilm, and Peter Hricak, senior manager for network and telecommunications, to explain how, even with a server farm of more than 4,000 machines and a WAN with 10Gbps links, they still find ways to optimize.
What does the render farm consist of?
Kevin Clark: We’ve got approximately 4,300 processors available within the data center. We use a distributed rendering model, so we’ve got a core within our data center of varying generations of systems, but primarily dual-core, dual [AMD] Opteron blades with up to 16G of memory on board. We also use available workstations that are out on the floor [such as after artists log off for the night]. Those are typically single-core or dual-core, dual-Opteron HP workstations. So the render farm in total comprises about 5,500 processors.
How does the rendering process work?
Peter Hricak: We take models and textures and through mathematical equations – sometimes through off-the-shelf software, sometimes through our own – we render the final images. On the more difficult effects like water, what goes in is textures and some general physics equations, and what comes out is a two-minute sequence of a boat being [swamped] by a wave.
Read the full article here:
IT optimization the Lucasfilm way