With movies getting bigger and bigger, many don’t realise that the industry owes a lot to high-performance computing. Behind all the special effects and set designs of a blockbuster is the demand for compute-intensive applications and latency-free computing power.
The fast-in, fast-out IT infrastructure required to support these short-cycle projects has become a major consideration for the industry’s ambitions, and ultra-high-definition production formats.
It’s an exponentially data-hungry business. Teams are often spread across four corners of the globe, with slow data communications and rendering delays. Moving data from the production warehouse to the cloud can create plenty of delay issues.
One particular production company, which recently moved its headquarters to Australia, needed a modular solution that could be deployed at speed and be relied on to power its high-density project.
Blockbuster locations, doubling for anywhere in the world, are driving huge demand in Australia. This is coupled with the country’s flattened COVID-19 curve. The international spotlight is firmly on Australia, and this has seen the film industry experience a threefold increase from 2019.
For this industry-leading production company, there was a timely need for critical digital infrastructure for a major blockbuster film. From announcement to release, these kinds of production projects are often two-year cycles. When the deal is signed, pre-production begins almost immediately, leaving little time to prepare for the unique compute requirements of the project.
“Digital is no longer a nice-to-have, production companies need to scale up their data centres to enable critical processes and compete in an expanding market,” said Daniel Sargent, Head of Sales for Natural Power Solutions. He worked closely with the production company throughout the process.
With modularity in mind, NPS approached trusted long-term partner Vertiv. Together they designed and built a prefabricated modular (PFM) data centre coupled with a Vertiv™ Liebert® CRV row cooling unit and Vertiv™ Liebert® APM uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This was to support a high-specification digital stage, fitted with floor-to-ceiling LED screens and computer-generated imagery (CGI) capabilities.
Housed in a Sydney football-pitch-sized production warehouse, the full turn-key solution needed to be as quiet as possible to avoid disrupting the shoot, or the talent.
“We couldn’t risk the moving parts of the data centre disrupting filming on the digital stage,” said Sargent. “While we designed the project agnostically, Vertiv had a unique ability to meet this make-or-break requirement. Audio levels reach just 80 decibels inside the data centre, and 60 decibels outside.”
Given the short-cycle nature of the project, price sensitivity was also a significant factor in the design process. The film company needed a low-cost and scalable solution that could run a full IT load with redundancy that would account for failure and maintenance.
Managed on schedule within just three weeks, the data centre not only met the specific noise requirements but delivered a total cooling capacity of 24.4 kilowatts, keeping output at 19 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the Vertiv™ Liebert® APM UPS helped deliver a 94 percent efficiency in double conversion.
“The modular, non-containerised design is fit for purpose and can be moved and used to power and process huge volumes of production data at the film company’s next project – wherever it might be,” said Bhargav Kumar Bhatt, National Mechanical and Electrical Channel Manager A/NZ at Vertiv.