Dell Helps Soho VFX Siege the Castle in Time for Jack the Giant Slayer Premiere

  Dell Helps Soho VFX Siege the Castle in Time for Jack the Giant Slayer

  *Soho VFX relied on Dell end-to-end technology to deliver Jack the Giant
    Slayer project on a tight deadline
  *The studio created high-quality, photorealistic scenes on schedule by
    using Dell solutions that decreased render times by more than half
  *Dell Precision workstations, Dell PowerEdge blade servers and Dell
    UltraSharp monitors power 214 visual effects shots in the film

Business Wire

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- March 1, 2013

Dell’s comprehensive media and entertainment solutions helped award-wining
visual effects (VFX) studio, Soho VFX, deliver 214 visual effects shots on
tight deadline, without sacrificing quality, for today’s opening of Jack the
Giant Slayer, a fantasy-adventure film based on the Jack the Giant Killer and
Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tales.

Using a combination of powerful, scalable Dell solutions including Dell
Precision T3500 workstations, Dell PowerEdge blade servers and Dell UltraSharp
U2410 monitors, Soho VFX created the stunning and highly detailed castle-siege
scene, realistic environment replacement shots, dynamic characters and other
action scenes with burning trees and intensive fire simulations.

“With the short deadlines and pressure from the movie studios, we relied on
both the Dell workstations and render farm to keep production running 24 hours
a day while we continued creating different scenes,” said Keith Sellers, 3D
Supervisor, Soho VFX. “Despite the stress on the systems, Dell’s solutions
provided both the stability and processing power we needed to get quality
shots done in time.”

Dell workstations and servers helped power the creation of vast environments,
including realistic flaming trees and water juxtaposed against the stunning
backdrop of the highly detailed castle. The studio also delivered an extremely
complex computer graphic (CG) forest comprised of more than 2.5 million
fully-modeled trees. This 30 second-long shot was so intensive that it
required more than 125 hours across 192 systems to be fully rendered. Even
with such a taxing lift, the Dell PowerEdge servers “were rock solid and
enabled us to meet our deadline,” said Todd Michael Smith, Head of Information
Technology, Soho VFX.

To film the castle shots in Jack the Giant Slayer, Soho VFX started with
concept art that was provided from the movie studio to build the 3D model of
the castle. The texturing department then used different materials and shaders
to build on top of that model, which was followed by a tracking artist who
used the background plates shot on set to match the movements of the camera
digitally. The dynamics team then added any smoke, fire or water elements that
the shot required. From there, a lighting technical director set up lights to
match the lighting of the background plate, and sent the shot to the
Dell-based render farm. Once the renders were done, the shot went to a
compositor who integrated all the different layers together, color-corrected
and applied the final look of the shot. If the workstations’ memory were to
fail or the servers were to go down while rendering, delays could have vastly
derailed months of tight planning and could have cost Soho VFX substantial
monetary loss.

To help ensure this didn’t happen and to achieve these data-intensive visual
effects, Dell helped Soho VFX expand its render farm of Dell PowerEdge M610
blade servers by 20 percent in less than 10 days. The studio also upgraded the
blade servers with four core Intel® Xeon® 5500 processors at 2.26 GHz to six
core Intel® Xeon® 5600 processors at 3.06 GHz to better handle the intense
needs of the project. Dell met and exceeded Soho VFX’s timeline goals by one
day and enabled the company to decrease lengthy render times by approximately
55 percent.

Soho VFX artists also credit the purchase of additional Dell Precision T3500
workstations in helping the dynamics, modeling and animation teams push
through deadlines and complete the project. They leveraged the systems to
manage extremely heavy data sets and to run high-performance and
multi-threaded applications like Autodesk Maya for 3D animation and The
Foundry’s Nuke for digital compositing. Certified for the top digital content
creation applications, Dell workstations have been Soho VFX’s workstations of
choice for more than eight years due to, according to Smith, “the systems’
unflagging performance and reliability.”

“We are extremely proud to have Soho VFX as a customer and partner for more
than eight years,” said Chad Andrews, Dell Media & Entertainment vertical
strategist. “Soho VFX’s success with Jack the Giant Slayer serves as a great
example of the benefits Dell delivers to growing customers in the media and
entertainment industry. The visual effects production process is becoming
increasingly complex and requires high-end, reliable technology more now than

Toronto-based Soho VFX has been a player in special effects since 2002 and is
no stranger to the demands and pace of the film industry. Through the years,
Dell’s hardware has been able to scale with Soho VFX’s growth, enabling them
to respond quickly to difficult client requests while delivering visually
stunning effects in other recent movies such as The Incredible Hulk and The
Love Guru.

Additional Information:

  *Dell on Twitter
  *Dell Precision
  *Dell PowerEdge
  *Dell UltraSharp
  *Dell Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment

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Lauren Mauro, 512-723-6957
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