HP, AMD Power Over the Hedge

HP technology helped DreamWorks Animation SKG create the 3D-animated feature, OVER THE HEDGE, which was released today in U.S. theaters and is showing at the 59th Cannes International Film Festival.

HP, which is DreamWorks Animation's preferred technology provider, delivered servers, workstations and HP Halo collaboration studios to meet the demanding business and production needs required to create the new animated comedy.

DreamWorks Animation's digital artists created lighting and vfx for OVER THE HEDGE using HP xw9300 workstations and HP ProLiant DL145G2 servers powered by Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors. In fact, the ProLiant servers provided OVER THE HEDGE more than 15 million render hours three times more than DreamWorks Animation's original SHREK film making it the most powerful render-farm in DreamWorks Animation's history.

These systems provided increased computing power over DreamWorks Animation's previous generation of systems, helping artists work on multiple scenes simultaneously. These systems provided more than 30% additional computing power over DreamWorks Animation's previous generation of systems, helping artists work on multiple scenes simultaneously similar to how PCs based on AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors help consumers improve multi-tasking capability. DreamWorks Animation production management staff also used HP Compaq nx6125 notebooks based on AMD Turion 64 mobile technology to help streamline a variety of production activities.

As we've grown as a company, so has our collaboration with HP, said Jeffrey Katzenberg, ceo DreamWorks Animation. They were there at the beginning with SHREK and have been with us every step along the way. I don't think we'd be where we are today as an innovator and a leader in visual effects and technology were it not for the incredible support weve had and continue to get from HP and AMD.

"Computer-generated filmmaking consumes an extraordinary amount of computational power and our creative ambition always seems to stay two steps ahead of what's possible," said Ed Leonard, cto, DreamWorks Animation SKG. "HP not only enables us to stay two steps ahead on the animation side, but on the business side, too. With HP and AMD's help we are able to release two CG films a year unprecedented in the industry."

Our users are among the most demanding in the world, said Craig Ring, visual effects supervisor. What OVER THE HEDGE artists wanted most was more time more time to explore creative options, make characters more engaging and produce an extraordinarily high degree of visual sophistication.

HP and AMD technology gave them the time they needed. The HP xw9300 workstation made it possible for us to deliver a more visually complex movie than ever before, Ring added. The faster workstations allowed us to have a whole cast full of characters that had long fur and a whole forest filled with bushes, trees and grass.

The characters have millions of strands of hair on their bodies, explained Dave Burgess, supervising animator. To render all that out takes time and processing power. You need to do your animation, fire off a rendering and have it come back as soon as possible so youre seeing it at the highest resolution to know if the look or movement or sequence is working.

Thanks to the HP workstations, we have been able to animate in close to realtime, Ring added. The flexibility that gave us meant there were fewer creative compromises in OVER THE HEDGE. When the director said, I really want to do this, the answer came back yes more often.

Lighting and visual effects departments were first to incorporate the HP xw9300 workstations and were its heaviest users. The lighters were excited about the speed and throughput of the AMD processors, Ring said. The Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors were a fundamental difference and helped people work on multiple scenes at once. Its like having multiple computers on your desktop. You can work with one shot while the workstation is off calculating another.

"AMD64 technology offers outstanding performance per watt, delivering the power and performance that DreamWorks Animation's artists need to continually raise the bar of computer-generated animation and achieve greater on-screen detail while saving time," said Henri Richard, evp/chief sales and marketing officer, AMD. "Consumers can enjoy the same level of computing performance at home or practically anywhere with desktop and notebook media center PCs based on AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors."

On any given night there are 20,000 or more individual jobs that are requested to go through the DreamWorks render farm, Ring explained. The speed of the HP servers gave the creative team the flexibility to make improvements with confidence that they could be rendered overnight and ready for the director to review in the morning.

We really like the HP ProLiant DL145 servers on a price-performance-per-square-foot basis, added Derek Chan, head of Digital Operations. With the limited real estate in our data center, we needed an extremely dense server solution that wouldnt create a heat problem. The HP servers have the features we want in terms of reliability and overall system design. We were able to get a lot more processing power in the same space with approximately the same power consumption.

Producing animated feature films involves a tremendous amount of person-to-person interaction. With two California campuses more than 350 miles apart in Redwood City and Glendale, geography posed a challenge for DreamWorks Animation because of the cost and time involved with traveling.

HP Halo collaboration studios enable people in different locations to communicate in a vivid, face-to-face environment in realtime. The Halo studios enabled DreamWorks Animation to enhance collaboration and facilitated 24-hour global communication, significantly lowering the cost and time associated with conducting business.

"HP continues to push the envelope for computer-generated filmmakers like DreamWorks Animation," said Shane Robison, evp and chief strategy and technology officer, HP. "HP technology helps ensure DreamWorks Animation can deliver its industry-leading goal of two films per year."

The HP Remote Graphics Software played an important role in the introduction to the OVER THE HEDGE team of a new DreamWorks compositing application, Ring said. We had a regular project meeting of developers and users. Everybody was able to give their feedback, and our compositing software rollout went smoothly. I dont think we could have done that cross-site without the Halo rooms and HPs Remote Graphics software.

HP (www.hp.com) is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses and institutions globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, global services, business and home computing, and imaging and printing. For the four fiscal quarters ended April 30, 2006, HP revenue totaled $88.9 billion.

Advanced Micro Devices (www.amd.com) is a leading global provider of innovative microprocessor solutions for computing, communications and consumer electronics markets. Founded in 1969, AMD is dedicated to delivering superior computing solutions based on customer needs that empower users worldwide.