Glassworks Accelerates Global Rendering Efficiency with Pixit Media
Founded in 1996 and based in Soho, London, Glassworks is one of the creative industry’s top providers of visual effects and high-end digital content. From award-winning commercials to film, promos and digital material, Glassworks’ expertise and success in computer animation, digital effects, telecine and compositing has facilitated the opening of offices in Amsterdam and Barcelona in recent years.
With an impressive array of equipment and a wealth of both local and international talent in all three facilities, Glassworks is continuously looking for new ways to benefit from each office’s resources on a global scale. This is especially true of technology that can take advantage of their investment in a high-speed Sohonet data link that connects each location.
As an existing customer of Pixit Media, a provider of enterprise scale-out storage solutions for content creators and distributors, Glassworks were given the opportunity to become an early adopter and launch partner of Pixit’s PixCache Cloud and WAN Acceleration technology.
PixCache enables Pixit Media Scale-Out NAS and SAN customers to combine their worldwide file-based asset repositories into a single, globally addressable storage area. With built-in acceleration technology for optimising long-distance network links, PixCache provides users at geographically disparate sites with instant, on-demand access to data anywhere within the organisation.
“After Pixit first brought PixCache to my attention, our render farms in all three locations immediately came to mind,” says William Issac, Head of Engineering for Glassworks. “It sounded like exactly the thing we were looking for to improve data transfer efficiency when sharing render resources across the group. Given that the technology was already built into our existing Pixit NAS and SAN license, the decision to move forward was a no-brainer.”
Pixit and Glassworks put together a solution that allowed each site to submit render scenes to the farm in a location distant from the actual source of the data. Instead of the entire farm using the Sohonet link to load a scene from remote storage, only a single render node would need to initiate data transfer for the rest of the farm to take advantage. This saves us huge amounts of both time and bandwidth. Additionally, because of the built-in WAN acceleration in PixCache, speeds increased 3X over previously used transfer methods at Glassworks.
The results made resource sharing across the sites completely seamless. “When Glassworks do production planning, we want to focus on our artists, not our IT resources,” adds Isaac. “PixCache ties together all of our global rendering facilities into a single pool; we no longer have to deal with the logistics of moving jobs around to keep up with resource shortages in a single location.”
The ability to pool render resources globally not only accelerates the workflow, it also frees Glassworks to invest in new infrastructure without being tied to any particular facility. “With power and space at a premium in the Soho area, adding additional CPU’s to our rendering capability in London has become increasingly difficult,” explains Isaac. “With the locality of those resources now largely irrelevant, we can add capacity to the most appropriate site from a cost perspective without any impact on our workflow”