NetApp renews DreamWorks Animation deal as latest film flops

NetApp has renewed a long-term relationship with customer DreamWorks Animation, including co-engineering and being its preferred cloud services provider.

VAST Data may have scooped up Pixar recently but NetApp has been supplying film maker DreamWorks Animation for more than 20 years, starting out as an on-premises supplier and then extending its remit to include the public cloud as DreamWorks embraced hybrid cloud working. DreamWorks Animation was founded by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1994 as part of DreamWorks Pictures. It was spun off in 2004 and became a subsidiary of NBCUniversal in 2016.

Gabrielle Boko, CMO at NetApp, said in a statement: “We’ve worked in lockstep with DreamWorks Animation to enable the studio’s digital transformation journey and accelerate its growth with NetApp’s product portfolio and the innovations resulting from our co-engineering efforts.”

Animated movies rely more and more on special effects that use vast amounts of data. These are designed and produced by hundreds of artists and rendered into film scenes. An animated movie can involve billions of files and take four or more years to create. All the files have to be stored and made available to artists at their workstations, wherever they are located, to rendering processes, and archived for longer term storage.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken image

Bill Ballew, DreamWorks Animation CTO, said: “Unlike many other businesses that simply rely on data, DreamWorks’ actual end product is completely composed of data. In fact, we generate up to a petabyte of data for each film.”

DreamWorks is using its hybrid cloud environment to grow its infrastructure without having to build new data centers. The procured on-premises NetApp environment includes ONTAP AFF (All-Flash FAS) A900 arrays, ONTAP FAS 9000 hybrid arrays,  E-Series SAN arrays, SolidFire all-flash arrays, StorageGRID object storage, FabricPool, FlexCache and FlexGroup for data access acceleration.

The hybrid cloud environment includes Astra and Astra Trident, Cloud Checkr, Spot, Azure NetApp Files and Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

DreamWorks Animation’s latest animated movie is Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. Boko said NetApp’s All-Flash Array systems and the hybrid storage design ”simplified the workflows for the giant character model of Ruby Gillman.”

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken had a production budget of $70 million and was released in the US on June 30 by Universal Pictures. It has so far grossed $26.7 million and, unfortunately, has recorded the lowest-ever opening weekend of a DreamWorks Animation film.