Dell Helps Reel FX Bring Free Birds Feature to Life
Dell announced that award-winning animation studio Reel FX utilized Dell technology to develop, produce and animate its first full-length feature film, Free Birds, an animated feature about two turkeys who travel back in time to try to take themselves off the Thanksgiving menu. In theaters today, the film is directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!) and features the voices of top comedy stars, including Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler.
The film’s release today marks the introduction of Reel FX Animation Studios brand to consumers, as it is the studio’s first home-grown movie after 20 years of creating animated content, including films, commercials and interactive projects, for Fortune 500 businesses and nearly every major entertainment company. Developing a feature-length film was a colossal undertaking for Reel FX and the studio relied on a complete Dell solution comprised of Dell Precision workstations, Dell Latitude laptops, Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell Networking, Dell Storage, and Dell UltraSharp monitors to meet the intensive demands of the project under a condensed timeline.
“For Reel FX, Free Birds is a testament to the fact that with incredible machines in the hands of brilliant, creative artists, anything is possible,” said Chuck Peil, the vice president of business development at the studio.
Reel FX was nearly halfway through production with a target release date of late 2014 when a significant film vacated its November 2013 target release timeframe. Reel FX decided to push up the timeline for Free Birds by an entire year to take advantage of this prime pre-Thanksgiving opportunity. The new timeline meant turning more frames in a shorter amount of time and having the processing power to move the film’s incredibly complex scenes through the production pipeline quickly and reliably was critical to success.
“In a typical animated film, as you near the end of production you’re producing 35-40, maybe 50 shots a week,” said Kyle Clark, chief operating officer at Reel FX. “In Free Birds, because the schedule was compressed, we were doing upwards of 200 shots a week. So the technology had to be on point and very consistent. Any downtime minutes were critical at that point.”
With so many shots to render in a relatively short period of time, Reel FX needed more horsepower so it turned to Dell to help it scale its render farm quickly and without any downtime. Reel FX increased processing power to 12 cores per machine and moved from 24GB to 48GB systems with an upgrade to Dell PowerEdge C6220 rack servers, allowing them to reduce render time per frame by 30 percent.
“Dell provided the processing power we needed for our artist workstations, production laptops and render servers, in order for us to successfully produce and render our feature film,” said Ross Moshell, Director of Business Technology for Reel FX. “Dell's outstanding reliability meant we were able to scale our render farm in the middle of production, and have powerful machines delivered to our door, right on time for us to hit our critical milestones.”