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Dell Helps Power Visual Effects in Oscar-Nominated Films

·         Dell technology enables Pixomondo to deliver high-quality visual effects shots efficiently and on deadline for the Oscar-nominated film, “Snow White and the Huntsman”

·         ILP VFX standardized on Dell UltraSharp U2711 monitors for its visual effects work on “Kon-Tiki,” nominated in the Foreign Language Film category

·         Tippett Studio leverages Dell Precision T7600 workstations to bring “Ted” to the Oscars®

Dell media and entertainment solutions helped power award-winning visual effects (VFX) shots in several films up for an Oscar last night at the 85th Annual Academy Awards®. 

Dell’s end-to-end highest performance technology helped Dell VFX customers, Pixomondo and Important Looking Pirates (ILP), deliver projects and execute against creative visions quickly and efficiently for the films “Snow White and the Huntsman,” nominated for an Oscar for Visual Effects and “Kon-Tiki,” nominated for an Oscar for Foreign Language Film, respectively. 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.

“We are beyond proud that many of our customers were nominated and recognized for their great work at the Academy Awards® last night,” said Neil Hand, VP, Tablet and Performance PCs, Dell. “Dell’s goal is to provide our 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. 

“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,” said Andrew Roberts, Digital Effects Supervisor, Pixomondo. “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. 

Pixomondo credits efficient, reliable and global IT infrastructure backed by 24/7 support from Dell in helping this dispersed team collaborate, render and share assets across offices at all times of day all over the world. The studio needed hardware they could rely on and that would scale with them. Dell systems allowed the artists to efficiently deliver the scope of high-quality work on time. The studio used a complete end-to-end Dell solution including Dell 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. 

Another Dell customer who made an appearance at the Academy Awards last night was Important Looking Pirates (ILP) for their work on “Kon-Tiki,” nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. ILP delivered 62 VFX shots for a very challenging raft and white shark scene. To achieve the precise, true-to-life image color required for their work, and experience consistency across their entire monitor fleet, ILP relied on Dell UltraSharp U2711 monitors with PremierColor and have deployed them across the company. 

“We were experiencing issues with a previous brand and switched to Dell UltraSharp due to its size, resolution and the image quality,” said Niklas Jacobson, VFX supervisor at ILP. “We have been very pleased with the reliability of the monitors and we plan to expand our Dell technology infrastructure and investment as the increasing demands of our industry produce requirements that we believe can be met by Dell solutions.”

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