Making Imagination Real with AI and HPC

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Dell Technologies

Media and entertainment visual artists use computer‑generated imagery (CGI) and visual effects (VFX) to add or enhance characters and scenes in ways that would be too costly or difficult to accomplish in real life. In the past, these technologies were reserved for big‑budget movie productions because they required expensive compute and storage systems. Today, this is changing — in big ways.

As the hardware and software required to create computer-generated visions have become more powerful and more affordable, the use of CGI and VFX has moved into the mainstream of the industry, and is now a common practice for productions of all types and sizes. From small boutique shops to global entertainment powerhouses, these technologies are vital components of storytelling for movies, television and online entertainment.

Enabling new use cases

Modern CGI and VFX processes are made possible with sophisticated software algorithms running on high performance computing (HPC) systems. Many steps in the CGI and VFX pipelines can now be greatly accelerated through the use of AI and HPC.

Here are some of the more common use cases:

  • Rendering engines are used to generate visual output to a screen or file. They typically benefit from multi‑core high‑frequency clock speeds and large caches in HPC systems.
  • 3D modeling applications are used to create 3D environments and CGI models. Typically, creators use several applications throughout the pipeline.
  • Compositing applications are used to layer various outputs together to form the final movie‑quality image.
  • Lighting applications calculate how light from a virtual light source will interact with virtual objects in a scene. These calculations allow artists to create realistic images of shadows, spotlights, area lights, light decay and more.

The technology that brings it all to life

The performance requirements of these graphically intensive applications demand HPC platforms with large pools of storage, high‑bandwidth networks, lightning-fast CPUs and, in growing numbers of cases, GPU accelerators.

In this tech‑driven creative environment, production studios often have to balance several disciplines. In addition to being studio filmmakers, they are software developers, big data creators and HPC shops. At the same time, as advancements deliver faster and more powerful platforms, artists continually push the creative boundaries of the technology. They produce even more complex geometry, lighting and effects, which in turn pushes the technology to new limits. This creates a new set of challenges for technology partners to overcome.

The power of partnerships

The realities of today’s creative processes dictate that studios form close partnerships with technology providers who have the breadth of products and the technical expertise to build systems that span from the edge to the cloud to the core data center. Dell Technologies and Intel are well suited to this role.

Working together, Dell Technologies and Intel deliver technology that provides the foundation for media and entertainment workloads and use cases. Our close relationship allows us to build reference configurations using the latest Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, accelerators, compute fabric, memory, storage and software technologies.

We enrich these reference architectures with groundbreaking tools for accelerating and enriching the creative process. That’s the case with the Intel® oneAPI Rendering Toolkit.  It provides open source libraries developed by Intel that are used in leading applications for professional rendering and visualization, and are optimized for parallel-processing architectures.

To Learn More

For a deeper dive into this topic, see the Dell Technologies “Media & Entertainment HPC and AI Reference Guide.” This guide explores the considerations for building and tuning a render farm, including guidance on choosing solution components. The guide also includes an example solution design for a team of eight creatives working in a special‑effects studio, along with extensive discussions around selecting components and customizing a solution for particular needs.

Explore more AI and HPC solutions from Dell Technologies and Intel.

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