Dell may not have won a coveted Oscar statuette at the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood the other night but the company’s hardware solutions helped others get nominated in the visual effects category.
Pixomondo and Important Looking Pirates (ILP)used Dell equipment for the films “Snow White and the Huntsman,” which was nominated for an Oscar for Visual Effects and “Kon-Tiki,” also nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The Dell Precision workstations also helped Tippett Studio bring “Ted” back to life to present the Oscars for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing alongside Mark Wahlberg.
Wahlberg starred alongside the puppet in the summer smash Ted.
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Neil Hand, VP of tablet and performance PCs for Dell said the company is beyond proud that many of Dell’s customers were nominated and recognized for their great work at the Academy Awards. Dell’s goal is to provide customers with reliable, secure and high-performance technology so they can focus on their creative workflows, key to being competitive in the entertainment industry, and spend less time worrying about IT.
Pixomondo, an international VFX studio and longstanding Dell customer and partner, was enlisted as one of the VFX vendors on “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a UK-American fantasy film based on the German fairy tale “Snow White.” Pixomondo managed 261 character, environment and action shots in the movie and helped the film’s supervisors realize the design and style of many of the shots.
Andrew Roberts, Digital Effects Supervisor at Pixomondo said every show comes with its own unique set of creative and technical challenges. On ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ we developed methodologies to share data between multiple software packages, at times with artists in different offices working together on the same shot. The demand to turn around high quality shots in a short timeframe is always present, Dell Precision workstations and Dell PowerEdge servers supported us every step of the way.
The film was an around-the-clock global effort by more than 200 artists across six of Pixomondo’s offices. Artists in Los Angeles, Burbank, Berlin and Toronto all worked on the opening battle sequence with each office focused on different shots, including the massive army, shattering soldiers, character animation and fire and smoke simulation. The work on the “storming the beach” sequence was also spread across several offices with Berlin artists creating volleys of fireballs, Beijing team members developing the crowd duplication and arrow shots and the Los Angeles office working on the development of digital soldiers on horseback. Additionally, Toronto artists delivered the dwarves and fire in the forest attack sequence and Shanghai helped the character, William, raid the wagon.
The studio used an end-to-end Dell solution including Precision T5500 tower workstations paired with high-end dual-Dell UltraSharp U2410 and Dell ST2420L monitors, Dell PowerEdge R510, R410, R310 and R200 servers, and Dell Networking 6248 switches to simulate, animate, render and view its work on the film.
This combination of Dell technology, services and solutions allowed Pixomondo to focus more time on creativity and workflows to overcome challenging shots and sequences. For instance, Pixomondo successfully delivered very complex shots where knights crumbled into tens of thousands of obsidian fragments by developing a custom dynamics system. The proprietary system gives physically accurate simulations while still maintaining artistic control over the look of each fragment and the progression of the overall shatter effect itself.
To achieve this, Pixomondo utilized Dell solutions in offices around the world to share matchmove, animation, effects and lighting work; “something we’re very proud of and so were Universal and director Rupert Sanders,” said Roberts.