HP's Utility Rendering Service Stars in DreamWorks' Shrek 2

4/26/2004 - HP and DreamWorks marked the latest chapter in their alliance by unveiling innovative, new technologies for off-site animation rendering and remote collaboration - next-generation solutions that are enabling DreamWorks Animation to shape the future of digital filmmaking.

Built on a technology partnership that began in 2001, the collaboration provides DreamWorks Animation with state-of-the-art technology solutions from HP, which are being used to bring to life some of the most advanced animated images and characters. These will be seen in soon-to-be released feature films "Shrek 2," "Shark Tale" and "Madagascar" and the NBC computer-animated TV series, "Father of the Pride," debuting this fall.

HP's Utility Rendering Service (URS), developed by HP in close collaboration with DreamWorks, addresses a very real and expensive problem in creating digital animation. URS provides a simple, flexible and scalable solution to manage the enormous amount of computational power that is needed to render high-quality film animation.

Working closely with HP, DreamWorks developed the Virtual Studio Collaboration (VSC) project to address the need to connect geographically dispersed teams and provide an unprecedented level of collaboration capabilities. The next generation of the VSC is now under development by HP and promises even more capabilities when enhanced by HP technology.

Combined, the URS and VSC are allowing DreamWorks to quickly upscale its production ambition and utilize artistic talent from several locations simultaneously.

With the new solutions, HP effectively serves as an infrastructure extension of a premier Hollywood animation studio, providing peak compute power at crucial stages in the production process and enhancing the creative process across a geographically dispersed organization.

"Through our partnership, we are changing what is possible in animation. With HP we are breaking down technological barriers and achieving great results," said Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks co-founder. "HP enables us to realize our current ambitions, and to feel more confident about dreaming even bigger for the future."

"As a partner to DreamWorks, HP's goal is to deliver technologies like the URS that enhance DreamWorks technologies and like VSC, which free the artistic spirit, improve the collaborative process and cut production costs," said Shane Robison, chief strategy and technology officer, HP. "Together, the two companies will continue to evaluate technology synergies to enhance DreamWorks' reputation as one of world's leading animation studios."

HP Utility Rendering Service: Adaptive technology helps improve cost-effectiveness
The HP URS was built by researchers at HP Labs in Palo Alto using a 1,000-processor compute farm built on industry-standard systems, including HP ProLiant DL360 servers running Linux and HP ProCurve network switches. It is linked via a secure, high-speed network to DreamWorks Animation studios to provide an extension of DreamWorks' internal data center. This gives the studio a pooled set of resources that can be tapped as needed without having to make a major capital investment.

A highly adaptive enterprise environment, the HP URS allowed DreamWorks the flexibility to add significant peak capacity for the final stages of rendering "Shrek 2," which will be released May 21. To date, more than a half million individual frames have been processed on the HP URS. This may be the first time a major film animation company has gone outside its gates for a significant share of the critical digital rendering process that adds color, texture, lighting and special effects to 3D character models and scenes.

HP Labs researchers developed advanced capabilities for service configuration and management and put comprehensive instrumentation in place to collect many terabytes of system data that are used to optimize performance and reliability. The URS data center is a high-density installation that employs HP's unique "smart" cooling and "smart" power solutions to provide the maximum compute capability in a small and cost-efficient footprint.

As a key element of the HP Adaptive Enterprise strategy, utility computing services like the URS represent a new economic model for the entertainment industry with the potential for unprecedented levels of flexibility, performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness.

"Shrek 2" created using VSC real-time collaboration system
HP also partnered with DreamWorks to launch the Virtual Studio Conferencing, which creates a virtual collaboration center for producers, directors, and animators working in different locations around the world.

Using HP Remote 3D software and DreamWorks' high-resolution imaging technology, VSC links all creative elements together, enabling real-time communication and the efficient exchange of storyboarding, content review, editing, creative consulting and other vital production information.

HP is exploring ways to offer this innovative technology to other customers outside of the entertainment industry, such as aerospace, biotech, consumer electronics and other industries where remote and sometimes disparate groups need to have a real-time exchange of information and ideas.

HP and DreamWorks: The power of the brands
The alliance between HP and DreamWorks also has been extended to include co- branding and joint consumer marketing initiatives around the premier of "Shrek 2." As the world's largest consumer IT company, HP brings a new dimension to DreamWorks' business by opening up new channels to reach consumers for cross-marketing promotions and merchandising opportunities.

For example, HP will be launching regional sweepstakes timed to the release of "Shrek 2." Winning consumers will have their likeness animated on a copy of the DVD release of DreamWorks' next animated film, "Shark Tale." HP also will unveil a 30-second TV ad based on "Shrek 2" during the finale of NBC's "Friends" on Thursday, May 6.

HP and DreamWorks first partnered in 2001 on the creation of the original "Shrek," which won the first Academy Award® for Best Animated Film. DreamWorks gets its computing power from Linux-based HP workstations and HP ProLiant servers, which accelerate the delivery of key computer graphic elements such as smoke, magic, liquid effects, clothing and textures.

About HP
HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses and institutions globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. For the last four fiscal quarters, HP revenue totaled $74.7 billion. More information about HP (NYSE, Nasdaq: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.

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