Virtualization Technology News and Information
Crafty Apes Relies on Qumulo for 2D Compositing for Hit Film La La Land In Theatres Now

Qumulo, the leader in data-aware scale-out NAS, today announced that Crafty Apes has chosen Qumulo Core to deliver the most cost-effective performance, scalability and support needed to move mountains of data for the 2D compositing of the hit film La La Land.

Crafty Apes is a boutique visual effects (VFX) studio that has earned a reputation in the 2D compositing world for its work on hit films and shows ranging from Marvel titles like Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War to Disney's Pete's Dragon and Fox's Hidden Figures.

The massive opening shot to the hit movie La La Land presented a unique and highly complicated challenge. At more than five minutes long and over 8,000 frames, the opening sequence dwarfs the film industry's average of two to five seconds and a hundred frames between cuts. It incorporates rendering of CG cars, added dancers, transitions between multiple takes, wardrobe adjustments, removal of set equipment and much more - a process that required hundreds of renders and terabytes of data.

As a relatively small studio, Crafty Apes couldn't afford to make huge investments in its storage infrastructure. In fact, after it got the bill for customer support on a small EMC Isilon cluster - and realized the support cost was a substantial portion of the entire investment - it immediately dropped the contract.

It was around that time that Tim LeDoux, founder and VFX supervisor of Crafty Apes, noticed growing industry buzz and excitement around Qumulo. After hearing about the company's nimble approach to scale-out storage and its outstanding support, Crafty Apes felt confident in taking the plunge on the new system.

Qumulo is the leader in data-aware scale-out NAS, delivering flexible, fast and highly scalable storage together with the real-time analytics necessary for visibility into data usage. Crafty Apes' interest in a Qumulo storage cluster was driven by a desire to keep costs well below that of an equivalent offering from a company like EMC Isilon, while still maintaining overall storage reliability, capacity and performance footprint.

Crafty Apes selected Qumulo's QC24 hybrid storage appliances, deploying a six-node, Windows-based production system capable of storing more than 70TB of data for its Windows-based production systems.

Today, the performance and feature set of the Qumulo cluster at Crafty Apes is significantly better than the studio's prior solution, which is exactly what's needed to tackle a challenge like the opening VFX sequence for La La Land.

"With critical high-profile projects, you want to know exactly what you're going to be leaning on for successful delivery," said LeDoux. "When the La La Land project came around, it was make or break, and we were never down for a moment. Qumulo is our rock, allowing us to focus on the visual effects with absolute confidence the data is safe."

As the primary storage for the La La Land project, the Qumulo cluster was critical in keeping production on schedule. "Speed is directly related to our work; if artists are waiting for shots to play back then output drops and that can put an entire project in jeopardy."

Capacity is also inherently important, as the studio's volume of data continues to shoot up every year. "Having a solid storage system that I can easily and affordably scale as needed to meet growth means I've got one less thing to worry about," LeDoux said.

Crafty Apes is currently in the process of adding several more nodes to its Qumulo cluster to support data replication between offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

In addition to the solution itself, the Qumulo Care support team has not only been central in getting the company's storage where it is today, but in continuing to ensure its needs are met. The company's expertise has made it easy for LeDoux to quickly get on a call or hop on Slack and get right to a solution - something he finds hugely beneficial, and a significant improvement over what is typical from other vendors.

"Qumulo Care knows what's happening, knows exactly what we're trying to do, and the team members are very technical - in my experience it's really rare, and frankly pretty impressive," LeDoux concluded.

To read the full Crafty Apes case study, please visit:

Published Tuesday, January 10, 2017 11:26 AM by David Marshall
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