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The CG animation studio leverages NetApp solutions to accelerate their data-driven environment

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.



Data Visionaries at DreamWorks use a hybrid cloud platform to:

  • Manage their massive amount of digital files
  • Optimize workflows, whether in the cloud or in a data center
  • Deliver on their artists' creative requirements

What brings creativity to life? Sometimes it’s something as simple as a paintbrush. But for world-class entertainment company, DreamWorks Animation—creator of beloved franchises, including Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon—technological excellence supports creative ambition.

"At DreamWorks Animation, our goal is to create incredible films that delight audiences around the world," said Kate Swanborg, DreamWorks SVP, Technology Communications and Strategic Alliances. "We have the most brilliant artists, so the technological infrastructure has to be on demand for them so that their imaginations can be realized."

The DreamWorks team can have up to 10 films in simultaneous production—which equates to as many as five billion active, digital files accessible in a hybrid cloud platform. But that hasn’t always been the case.

For example, the first How to Train Your Dragon movie couldn’t have more than eight dragons on screen at one time because, according to Simon Otto, Head of Character Animation on How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, it would "break the system."

"Now we can use as many dragons as we want," said Otto. "Our goal is to create a world the audience has never seen before. Behind that world is our technology and data that allows us to put a tremendous amount of detail on screen."

This ability to create new, fascinating worlds for the big screen hinges on a clear understanding that exists between the DreamWorks executive and creative teams.

"One of the great things about working with creative people is they’re constantly upping the bar," said Jeff Wike, Chief Technology Officer at DreamWorks. "Our job is to give the artists the tools that enable them to bring their creative vision to life without having to worry about the technology."

Defining a hybrid cloud strategy

DreamWorks is inherently a data-driven organization. The studio utilizes a data management strategy to enable their CG animation production process. Having a hybrid cloud infrastructure is critical for supporting all future workflows.

"When we talked to NetApp about where we wanted to go with hybrid IT, they got it immediately," continued Wike. "We partner with NetApp, so we can optimize our workflows, regardless of whether it's in the cloud or in our data center. And our creative teams are continually pushing our data demands."

By leveraging NetApp's hybrid cloud data management solutions, DreamWorks can focus on what matters most - their artists' creativity. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World contains 750 terabytes of data and 60,000 dragons. They are able to create new characters who move audiences in ways that are "life affirming and true," according to Dean DeBlois, Writer and Director of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

"We're passionate about being on the cutting edge of technology and storytelling," said Rachel Zusser, Production Manager on How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. "People that are diehard fans, to see the look on their face when they're watching it means everything."

Learn how NetApp helped DreamWorks define a cloud migration strategy to drive digital transformation.

DreamWorks Animation is an American entertainment company that produces animated feature films, original TV series and shorts, interactive media, theme parks, and consumer products. It is home to some of the world’s most-loved, award-winning animated film franchises.

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