BAFTA-winning VFX house Milk has set up a unique workflow between its London and Cardiff facilities, relying on a PixStor software-defined storage solution from Pixit Media with support for cloud rendering. The system enables artists to share files easily and securely, regardless of where they are working.
“The initial choice of PixStor as our storage infrastructure for London was really a no-brainer, as I had used the system at two other companies previously and knew that it would be the right solution for Milk,” said Dave Goodbourn, Head of Systems, Milk. “When we opened the Cardiff facility, rather than have a separate island of storage we were able to connect the suites to our London storage with barely any delay. We don’t treat Cardiff as a separate entity – from an infrastructure point of view it’s like we’ve added another floor in London, but for a fraction of the cost.”
A key part of the new workflow saw Milk look to the cloud, both private and public, testing render-on-demand between London and Cardiff. Pixit Media’s PixCache accelerates rendering by transferring a single copy of the data requested to multiple private cloud render instances from existing on-site storage, considerably reducing the time, complexity and costs of launching render resources. PixCache also supports bursting to public cloud with Google Cloud Platform. PixCache functions are resident as standard within PixStor architecture, so Milk simply added a server in Cardiff in order to extend the system and effectively create a global browse cache.
“We can use PixCache as a client in the cloud and transfer all the required files to Cardiff quickly and easily,” said Goodbourn. “If we need to extend our render capability to a cloud platform, we are ready for it at a moment’s notice. Recently we needed to burst onto more render nodes due to combined deadlines, and the cloud was the perfect solution. Using the PixCache system on Google’s cloud platform meant that the cloud instances responded, rendered and acted just as if they were in either of our London or Cardiff machine rooms.”
Barry Evans, Technical Director, Pixit Media, said, “While the facilities may be 150 miles apart, PixCache’s functionality and support for Google Cloud Platform enables Milk’s artists to collaborate on projects as easily as if they were next door to each other, while providing a full back-up for disaster recovery.”