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Visual Effects and Content Creation Company Whiskytree Opts for Panasas ActiveStor

Replacing aging FC infrastructure

Panasas, Inc. announced that Whiskytree, Inc., a visual effects and content creation company, selected the its ActiveStor solution to store and manage its creative computer graphics and visual effects workflows.

Whiskytree Chooses Panasas

Creatives include data-intensive rendering and real time collaboration using large data sets for blockbuster movies, commercials and advertising, work for real-time render engines and games, and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.

Whiskytree’s team of artists, designers, and technicians use industry-standard applications such as Maya, Houdini, Arnold, Gaffer, and Nuke on Linux, along with custom tools to create computer graphics and visual effects.

Prior to Panasas, Whiskytree used aging FC infrastructure that was power-hungry, complex and lower performing. The company sought a reliable, easy-to-manage NAS solution to balance mixed-file uses and rendering across its entire render farm to match the performance demands of its growing team and facility.

When we engaged with Panasas, we had recently tripled our employee count in a single month, while simultaneously finalizing the build-out of our new facility and network infrastructure, all while working on a 700-shot feature film project,” said Jonathan Harb, CEO and owner, Whiskytree. “Panasas not only delivered the scalable performance that we required during this critical period, but also delivered an exceptionally high level of support and expertise. This allowed us to add artists at the rapid pace we needed with an easy-to-work with solution that didn’t require fine-tuning to maintain and improve our workflow and capacity in an uninterrupted fashion. We literally moved from our old location on a Friday, then began work in our new facility the following Monday morning, with no production downtime. The company’s ‘set it and forget it’ appliance resulted in overall smooth operations, even under the trying circumstances.

The ActiveStor storage system supports media and entertainment workflows with limitless performance scaling and management simplicity regardless of workload complexity. It is deployed as a scale-out plug-and-play appliance that runs the PanFS parallel file system on standard commodity hardware. PanFS runs on Linux and features intelligent data placement across three tiers of media – metadata on NVMe, small files on SSDs and large files on HDDs – resulting in performance for all data types.

Data-intensive VFX pipelines demand powerful processing of complex assets with a mix of high-resolution live plates, complex rendered 3D geometry, and simulation effects like smoke and water. If your storage can’t keep up, artist time is wasted, and deadlines suffer,” said Jim Donovan, chief sales and marketing officer, Panasas. “With Panasas, media and entertainment studios can deploy their storage solutions quickly, manage them effortlessly, scale on-demand, and accelerate rendering times to work faster and more efficiently.

Before Panasas, Whiskytree operated a multi-vendor storage solution that was complex and time consuming to administer, modify, and troubleshoot. Additionally, it went through an office re-location and continued to expand its team at a rapid pace which required a low maintenance storage solution.

The company didn’t have time to build a new custom solution, or spend a lot of time tuning, and required a solution that can grow as project and facility needs change. ActiveStor delivered a solution with an integrated appliance design and GUI for simple management, along with performance and linear scalability, which allowed reliable performance improvement for Whiskytree’s growing projects.

How ActiveStor accelerates modern media workflows