Video effects firm Framestore offloads rendering to Google Compute Engine with Avere

The Avere filer appliance is being used to run rendering jobs on the Google cloud

Framestore has begun using Google Compute Engine with the Avere filer appliance to offload video rendering jobs from its on-premise server farm to the public cloud.

The London-based video effects (VFX) studio, which has worked on VFX for the movie Gravity and the O2 Simplicity advert among others, has used Avere to optimise cloud-based rendering of special effects.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Steve MacPherson, CTO at Framestore, said: "Two years ago, the word ‘cloud’ would kill most conversations among technical people. Cloud is bullshit, but now, having a resource I can scale up very quickly and add thousands of cores to our server farm is interesting."

Moving workloads to the public cloud frees up the on-premise rendering engine to do more work and could potentially save the company £200,000 in the cost of buying extra server cores.

The company previously used Avere to support rendering special effects for the movie Gravity. The Avere appliance was used to cache rendering data being sent to its 15,000-core server farm, to reduce bottlenecks in input and output (I/O )processing.

Framestore has now begun piloting Avere to support rendering using the Google public cloud. "Just like how we used Avere for caching, we are now looking to see if we can use Avere to cache data so it does not have to take the long trip back to our servers," said MacPherson. 

This is an important consideration because the cloud-based rendering  application runs in Google's Belgium facility and there is a 9 millisecond latency between Framestore's servers and Google.

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MacPherson said Avere enables the company to cache the rendering data to avoid the I/O bottlenecks.

If the pilot is successful, MacPherson says Framestore will be able to expand the amount of work it can put into the cloud. "Rather than using the cloud for only 20% of rendering, we can expand this to 40% or 50%, which gives us a lot more flexibility to provision resources,” he added. 

In effect, Avere offers Framestore to improve the efficiency of a rendering job. "If we can improve efficiency from 70% to 80%, that’s a big gain," said MacPherson.

Using Avere also means 10% less work needs to be sent down the network pipes to the on-premise rendering farm.


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