Storage: Savage VFX’s Multi-Locale Solution
By IAN FAILES
The topic of storage for visual effects studios can be a dry one. But storage is, of course, a crucial part of the day to day operations of a VFX vendor, large or small.
One smaller studio that has embraced a robust storage solution is Savage VFX, founded in 2007 by James Pastorius and Brice Liesveld. It found itself expanding relatively rapidly and needing to operate in two locations, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.
Savage VFX producer Brice Liesveld on set.
“We turned to OpenDrives while we were in the process of upgrading the L.A. office to work on The Social Network. The infrastructure we were using at the time wouldn’t have been able to keep the whole show online during the course of post-production, and would have struggled to server down that data to workstations.”
—Brice Liesveld, Co-founder and Visual Effects Producer, Savage VFX
To deal with the expansion and multiple locations, Savage adopted the OpenDrives Summit storage product. It’s through this storage tech that the studio has worked on several feature films, such as The Social Network, Gone Girl and Lucy, as well as a number of television shows, including Mindhunter and House of Cards, and even Apple iWatch commercials. The work done at Savage ranges from 2D compositing to environment effects, matte painting and CG work.
“We turned to OpenDrives while we were in the process of upgrading the L.A. office to work on The Social Network,” says Liesveld. “The infrastructure we were using at the time wouldn’t have been able to keep the whole show online during the course of post-production, and would have struggled to server down that data to workstations.”
Inside Savage VFX’s current office space in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From here, Savage concentrates on east coast-based projects, but is wholly connected to its other location in Los Angeles.
Although Savage tends to work on projects of the ‘invisible effects’ variety, “Quite a bit of our work falls into the ‘you’d never know it’s there’ category,” suggests Liesveld. The studio still has major storage requirements. “Outside of raw data storage, which is hundreds of terabytes, the main requirements we have are stability and speed. We need data to be available to serve the artists with minimal downtime and at speeds that don’t get in the way of the creative process.”
Prior to OpenDrives, which is tailored for post-production workflows via network attached share storage, Savage had simply stored data on a few Apple Xservs, external drives and LTO tapes. Things changed when more complex shots at higher resolution meant a higher amount of data generated.
Another view of Savage VFX’s current Pittsburgh office. The OpenDrives storage solution works between the studio’s two locations in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
“Ten years ago,” says Liesveld, “working with 4K footage would have been cutting edge for a facility. Today it’s an entry level requirement. At this point, you need to be able to handle 8K, higher frame rates, stereo projects, and the amount of rendered digital asset creation that comes along with that.”
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