DreamWorks keeps production on track with AIOps

A combination of business continuity planning, predictive analytics, and a multi-tenant cloud architecture has allowed the animation studio to keep producing movies without missing a beat.

DreamWorks keeps production on track with AIOps
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DreamWorks Animation is in many ways a manufacturer of digital data. The films it produces comprise multiple terabytes of data, created by teams of artists working together with sophisticated digital animation tools in a complex data pipeline. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and that animation factory floor had to close, DreamWorks production was able to keep chugging along due to business continuity planning, analytics, and a multi-tenant cloud architecture.

"You watch our movies as data, either through a streamer or a digital projector in a theater," says Skottie Miller, technology fellow and vice president of platform and services architecture at DreamWorks. "Because of the multi-tenant, work-from-anywhere-on-campus environment, when the pandemic hit, what really changed for us? We still operate like a multi-tenant cloud. We still have our data in Glendale, in Las Vegas. And the people just went to offices, their houses, that were further away."

DreamWorks released its latest film, Trolls World Tour, in early April as much of the U.S. was going into lockdown. The movie required 1,200TB of storage and the creative teams managed and accessed 500 million digital files as they worked on the movie. DreamWorks starts production of movies with similar requirements roughly every four to six months and the movies take between 2.5 to 3 years to complete.

DreamWorks IT performs all the normal IT functions, such as supporting payroll and HR, managing systems and so forth, but its most important responsibility is supporting the digital production facility.

Artists at DreamWorks use sophisticated tools, many of which the company wrote, or in some cases purchased from vendors and modified heavily. The artists use those tools to create data. There's also a secondary tier of metadata collected about compute jobs, complexity of scenes and sequences, number of hours invested in an asset, and so on. All that data goes into a big data pipeline to help DreamWorks perform predictive analytics using AIOps — an emerging trend in which AI and machine learning are used to automate the monitoring and mitigating of operational issues — powered by NetApp Active IQ.

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