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Polygon Pictures in Tokyo manages the internal compute resourcesThinkbox-deadline-polygon-TronUprising
and render farm for their animation production schedules using
Thinkbox Software’s Deadline.


Polygon Pictures Puts Deadline Behind Animation Render Farm

Polygon Pictures, PPI, in Tokyo creates animation for projects across a broad range of media including films, games, exhibitions and broadcast television. Among their TV credits are two full CG TV series, Daytime Emmy Award-winners‘Transformers Prime’and‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’, as well as‘Tron: Uprising’, an Annie Award-winner. To help the company make the most of computing resources to cover their production schedules, PPI usesThinkbox Software Deadlineto manage its render farm.
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Polygon Pictures opened in 1983 and is one of the longest running digital animation studios in the world, bringing together over 300 artists from around the world. The facility had previously used its own render program developed in-house, but in 2010 switched to Deadline through software distributorIndyZone Co.

“As the number of software tools and settings we had to support within our own system grew, and the maintenance became more complicated, we had to consider a new way to manage rendering. We chose Deadline, taking into account its wide application support and the options to extend it through scripting,” saidKeiichi Kamedafrom Polygon Pictures’ R&D group.

Thinkbox-deadline-polygon-TronUprising
Tron: Uprising


To control PPI’s internal resources more efficiently, the studio uses Deadline to put about 400 artist workstations, or 3,000 cores, to work rendering when idle, plus roughly another 130 machines amounting to 1,500 cores in a dedicated render farm. When a user logs out of a workstation, it is automatically connected to the render farm as a render node. Using Deadline’s priority settings, PPI can also rank jobs by importance and distribute resources appropriately across multiple projects.

Keiichi said, “At the beginning, we managed our jobs by priority only. As multiple projects required more jobs to run simultaneously, priority assignment became complicated between projects, so we started to make project pools and changed the order of pools on each node. With Deadline, we can arrange the order of pools on each node by estimating the usage of resources for jobs on a weekly basis. We’ve found managing pools under one repository to be a very efficient way to handle jobs. With our current settings, if a higher priority job is sent to a render node, it must either wait until current jobs are completed or halt to begin jobs with the highest priority.”

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Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine

Working on Windows 7 64-bit, with some Apple OS X, PPI configures mounting drives and applications based on a project’s access security, and also customizes existing submissions and plug-in scripts. Since Deadline natively supports a range of applications, PPI was able to integrate directly it into their pipeline. “Along with rendering from the artists’ 3D applications like Maya, NUKE, Houdini and 3ds Max, we also use Deadline for several differentbatch processeslike converting image sequences into QuickTime files,” explainedAtsushi Tamori, lighting and compositing group leader at PPI.
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Using Deadline’sopen API, Polygon Pictures has created diverse in-house scripts, tools and settings to handle different situations. They also like Deadline’s straightforwardGUI. Atsushi said, “The Deadline Monitor makes it easy to understand the rendering status of projects so we can adapt to the changing needs on the studio floor,” Atsushi said.

Currently, PPI is working on ‘Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine’ directed by Hiroyuki Seshita and ‘Ronia the Robber’s Daughter’ directed by Goro Miyazaki, whose father was animator Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli. It is also putting effort into creating a new, original Japanese visual style by combining its long experience in production and capacity for technical development, with the widely recognized tradition of Japanese animation. www.thinkboxsoftware.com

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Transformers Prime