May 04, 2010 09:00 ET

BlueArc Multi-Tier Virtualized Storage System Devours Monster Visual Effects in "Clash of the Titans"

First Cinesite Project to Use BlueArc for Managing Rendering Workloads With High Performance

LONDON--(Marketwire - May 4, 2010) -  BlueArc® Corporation, a leader in scalable, high-performance unified network storage, today announced that London-based visual effects house Cinesite, a Kodak company, carried out artistic rendering of animation and scene development for the current Warner Bros. blockbuster "Clash of the Titans" using a storage system from BlueArc.

The project was the first at Cinesite to be completed which utilised a new BlueArc Mercury™ system as storage for rendered animation and composited shots. During the creation of "Clash of the Titans," Cinesite managed almost 200 terabytes of data, concurrently feeding over 2500 render cores to produce the visual effects.

Cinesite is currently working on the following forthcoming releases: "Marmaduke" (Fox), "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (Fox/Walden) and "John Carter of Mars" (Disney/Pixar), all of which are being produced on the same BlueArc system.

"The movie industry continues to have a voracious appetite for digitally created visual effects of ever increasing complexity and realism," said Antony Hunt, managing director of Cinesite.

"We identified last year that we would need to increase our storage capacity threefold but did not necessarily want to add to our old cluster and be constrained by the performance of the existing storage nodes on it," he continued. "We were also conscious that certain aspects of our old system were struggling to keep pace with the ever increasing amount of randomly accessed data and needed to be revisited. After initial selection we conducted a series of acceptance tests on BlueArc and other vendors' storage before making our final decision. We spoke with colleagues at other visual effects companies here in London who have BlueArc systems and only heard good things.

"The next challenge for us is going to be stereoscopic content. This will see storage requirements double; maybe treble again, along with a corresponding increase in rendering. We feel confident that the BlueArc storage is going to elegantly grow to those levels and not constrain us."

Cinesite typically handles up to eight projects at any one time with more than 350 VFX artists concurrently accessing thousands of files with sizes varying from just a few kilobytes to hundreds of gigabytes, frequently in unpredictable sequential and random patterns, placing enormous demands on throughput and I/O performance. 

"BlueArc impressed us by just being installed and working without the need to tweak it. We're generally suspicious of things that do not work out of the box as they invariably bite you after what appears to be a trivial change to the workflow," added Hunt.

Mercury virtualized storage pool allows Cinesite to seamlessly manage 130 terabytes of tiered SAS and SATA disk capacity. 

Tier one uses high performance SAS disks for handling output image data as well as 3D movie files comprising thousands of image files per frame and thousands of frames per shot. SATA disk in Tier two provides high bandwidth access to randomly accessed files such as raw scans which are fed sequentially into the pipeline. An additional 36 terabyte tier of near-line archiving is provided by Cinesite's old storage system. Movement of data between tiers is presently managed by legacy hierarchical storage management (HSM) tools. Going forward Cinesite plans to develop migration policies for the different tiers.

"We've been moving data from our old system across steadily at around five terabytes at a time," continued Hunt. "The transition is almost complete and the process has been transparent to the end users."

"We are thrilled that Cinesite has chosen our new multi-tier virtualized storage solution to manage its highly demanding storage requirements," said Mike Gustafson, president and CEO of BlueArc. "Our architecture is uniquely optimized to benefit businesses with high performance, scalable storage needs and that's why BlueArc is fast becoming the solution of choice for companies in the film-making and CGI industries."

About BlueArc
BlueArc partners with customers to solve their storage and data management-related business challenges. BlueArc's best-of-breed, high-performance, highly scalable and cost-effective storage solutions help to accelerate our customers' success. For more information visit

About Cinesite
With one of the largest and most comprehensive facilities in Europe, Cinesite's visual effects team has the capacity and creativity to produce all manner of effects, both digital and physical, for feature films and broadcast projects of all scales. Their award-winning team of highly talented visual effects artists take filmmakers' ideas and turn them into spectacular cinematic reality.

Cinesite is currently working on "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 1" (Warner Bros.), "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" (Disney), "Marmaduke" (Fox), "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (Fox/Walden), "John Carter of Mars" (Disney/Pixar) and "Battle: Los Angeles" (Sony/Columbia).

For more information please visit

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