Whiskytree chooses Panasas

Advanced visual effects (VFX) studio increases data storage performance, manageability, and reliability with Panasas ActiveStor solution.

Whiskytree, a visual effects and content creation company, has selected the Panasas ActiveStor® solution to store and manage its creative computer graphics and visual effects workflows – including data-intensive rendering and real time collaboration using extremely 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 world-class 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 fiber channel infrastructure that was power-hungry, complex and lower performing. The company sought a reliable, easy-to-manage network-attached storage (NAS) solution to balance mixed-file uses and rendering across its entire render farm to match the performance demandsof 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, chief executive officer and owner of 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 Panasas ActiveStor storage system supports modern media and entertainment workflows with limitless performance scaling, management simplicity, and consistently high performance regardless of workload complexity. ActiveStor is deployed as a scale-out plug-and-play appliance that runs the PanFS parallel file system on industry-standard commodity hardware. PanFS runs on Linux and features intelligent data placement across three tiers of media – metadata on NVMe, small files on solid-state drives (SSDs) and large files on hard disk drives (HDDs) – resulting in optimized 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 at 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, Whiskytree 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 an easy-to-manage solution with an integrated appliance design and graphical user interface for simple management, along with powerful performance and linear scalability, which allowed reliable performance improvement for Whiskytree’s growing projects.

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