In its bid to bring out the best of network magic in action for Hollywood’s Jim Henson Company – Brocade is powering Jim Henson’s creature shop to achieve greater creativity, innovation, and much importantly, time savings in editing and production while using Next Generation Brocade-Powered Network architecture.
For 60 years, The Jim Henson Company has been entertaining children and adults alike, while redefining educational programming on a global scale through its iconic characters.
As digital technologies became increasingly important in creating the Henson magic, the Company recognized the need to enhance its network to support its evolving needs. To accomplish that, the Company’s world-famous animatronics, visual effects, and CG animation division known as Jim Henson’s Creature Shop turned to Brocade.
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has deployed a new Brocade-powered network that removes obstacles to creativity and timely content development, while improving overall editing productivity across the production team. The Brocade® solution has enabled the Shop to reduce data download time by 94 percent, increase production efficiency by empowering multiple editors to work on the same job simultaneously, maximize lead times, and achieve higher visual and editorial quality.
Founded in 1955, and headquartered behind the walls of the historic Charlie Chaplin lot in Los Angeles, The Jim Henson Company relies on engineers and artists who have been exploring new ways to take puppetry to the next level.
The Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, an Emmy Award-winning proprietary technology from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, features a workstation with advanced simulation capabilities driven by the Company’s own animation software engine. The workstation uses a joystick and a digital glove, enabling puppeteers to manipulate a digital puppet exactly like they would a physical puppet. This setup allows puppeteers to perform virtual characters within a real-time animation studio environment that completely replicates a three-camera, live-action shoot.
To accommodate these advances being made on the digital side of its business, the Creature Shop needed a radically different network—one that would support the production team’s need to share and access massive video files from different locations in the studio—at unprecedented speed. The network also had to be scalable to support the technology’s growing requirements.
Storytelling has always been a part of The Jim Henson Company, and the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio pushes the envelope in creative ways to tell stories. Brocade networking technology now enables the Company to expand the use of its solution into editorial, pre-production, and post-production activities.
“Brocade’s technology has directly and significantly improved our efficiency,” said Steffen Wild, Visual Effects Supervisor at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. “We reduced download times from eight hours to 30 minutes, can move data faster, communicate more effectively, and we can tell stories in even more compelling, more magical ways than we’ve been able to do before.”
The Brocade Solution
The Company’s IP storage network includes two banks of Samsung SSD 100 percent flash storage devices—one bank is 32 TB and the other is 16 TB—connected by high-throughput links directly to a Brocade VDX® Switch solution. Using a technique known as Network Attached Memory, the storage enables data delivery at 40 Gbps directly to the network.
The Brocade VDX switches have four 40 GbE ports and 48 10 GbE ports that support 20 rendering stations, 10 artists, and the high-capacity flash storage drives. The Brocade switches provide a flexible foundation for the New IP, a modern approach to networking that leverages advanced software and virtualization capabilities.
The Brocade VDX switches include Brocade VCS® Fabric technology, which greatly simplifies network provisioning and management, allowing The Jim Henson Company to easily expand the network to connect other locations across its campus.