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Success Story | Jellyfish Pictures
Unleashing the Freedom to create
Success Story | Jellyfish Pictures

Using the power of NVIDIA GRID to run all the creative tools they need, from Nuke to Softimage, from any location on any device with full performance.

Jellyfish Pictures is an independent visual effects and animation studio with facilities in Noho and Brixton Village, London. Founded in 2001, the company is one of the most respected boutique facilities in London and has grown from strength to strength, gathering together some of the most talented individuals in the field to help create highly original, BAFTA-award winning work. Today, the firm behind the BBC's Inside the Human Body, Planet Dinosaur, and commercials such as Peckish, Sofaworks Sloth, and Neal and the Natural History Museum Alive 3D strives to remain at the forefront of technology and design by offering something extra in both creativity and approach.

CHALLENGE

Jellyfish Pictures outgrew their Noho base in Margaret Street in early 2013 because of the restricted power and office space available at that location. The challenge was to find a solution that would keep them in the heart of London's thriving VFX community without compromising either quality or client service.

SOLUTION

Jellyfish Pictures partnered with network and cloud provider Exponential-e to develop a new cloud platform known as Desktop-as-a-Service for Graphic Processing Units (DaaS–GPU) powered by NVIDIA
GRID technology. This platform allows employees to work remotely without affecting quality, productivity, or creativity. They can now utilize persistent virtualized desktops with all of their usual computing power, software applications, and graphics-intensive creative tools. All documents and files from their local storage are accessed directly from the virtual desktops, providing seamless integration between cloud resources and the local network.

The NVIDIA GRID-enabled DaaS-GPU platform empowers graphic artists and editors to work as if they were using a physical workstation. The virtual desktops perform up to 3-4 times faster than normal desk-based computers performing like-for-like tasks, and also achieve frame rates of between 25-30 frames per second. This improves the productivity of graphic artists and enables the company to deliver faster turnaround to meet tight production deadlines.

Crucially, it also means that employees have the ability to work from any device and any location because they are no longer tied to a physical desk. This makes the company highly flexible when bidding for future work. It has also supported other developments within the Jellyfish Group, including the opening of their new purpose-built, 4,000 square foot studio in Brixton, where 60 artists and supporting production staff are based. The DaaS-GPU platform allows the studios to share work, allowing employees and contract/remote workers to collaborate seamlessly on projects despite being based in separate offices.

Using Exponential-e's low latency, private network powered by NVIDIA GRID technology gives graphic artists access to all of the creative tools they need, from Nuke to Softimage, from any device anywhere in the world, with high-end workstation performance.

The DaaS-GPU platform also includes asset management and storage capabilities that make it function like a datacenter. This means that the Jellyfish creative team can harness the power of the platform for both application performance and rendering without any risk of data loss if a computer or terminal crashes or fails.

"The nature of the VFX industry is project-based, and we often require technology resources and freelancers on demand. Exponential-e's solution enables us to respond quickly to these fluctuating project requirements," explains Jeremy Smith, CTO of Jellyfish.

"Scaling up and down for productions–where you might be operating remotely from several locations, such as on set, on location, and in the studio, at speed with security and privacy center stage–is difficult, to say the least. Operationally, we no longer need to rely solely on our existing architecture when further processing power or capacity is required. Instead, our staff can spin-up additional resources on demand."

Exponential-e's cloud-based DaaS-GPU platform uses HP and Supermicro servers equipped with NVIDIA GRID K2 cards (PDF 645 KB) to provide the graphics processing. VMware Horizon provides the virtualization, and the low-latency 100GB network between Jellyfish's two studios means that graphic artists using the virtualized desktops don't experience any problems with screen refreshes and rendering.

This investment in network resources was absolutely critical, because the performance of all cloud services directly depends on the speed of the network used to connect to the datacenter. When Jellyfish artists are working round the clock in different studios to a strict deadline, removing all potential loss of productivity from lag is vital.

Security of the VDI implementation is of paramount importance because of the multi-million dollar production budgets in play; however, the hosted service that Jellyfish uses remains both within its Local Area Network (LAN) and on the clean side of the firewall, meaning that traffic does not traverse the public Internet. Security and privacy concerns are therefore negated.

RESULTS

The virtualized desktop environment has changed the way Jellyfish works and competes in the industry. The company is now capable of moving from a capital expenditure business model to an operating expenditure structure. This reduces much of the upfront costs when Jellyfish expands to take on a big project, thus ensuring that they can align budgets with projects. For the first time, the company can be both highly flexible and confident when bidding for new work.

Even more valuable, NVIDIA GRID technology has removed the chains between artist, studio and desktop.

Jeremy Smith explains, "In the past, the huge amounts of processing power needed for VFX work meant that our artists, designers, and developers were tied to a physical desktop. But now, the traditional VFX workstation has been transformed. By adopting a hybrid, cloud-based platform, we can work from anywhere and on any supported device. Through our work with Exponential-e and NVIDIA, we are able to create a system that allows work to be shared in real time between our studios so that our employees and contract/remote workers can effectively collaborate on projects all on the same logical workspace."

Today, Jellyfish offers a highly creative environment for its employees. Thanks to the Exponential-e DaaS-GPU platform built on NVIDIA GRID technology, they can easily share work in real-time between their two studios and work seamlessly from virtually any device and from any location. They are also able to hire the best creative talent, regardless of where that talent is located.

 
 
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