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HP is breaking into the movies through deals with Dreamworks and Warner Bros.

In a broadening of a previously announced alliance, HP is extending its utility computing technology to help movie studio DreamWorks put the finishing touches on animated films such as Shrek 2. HP also announced a deal with Warner Brothers to restore classic films.

The deals are part of HP's more general push into the digital entertainment market. It wants to establish its Digital Media Platform at an alternative to conventional film technology for applications such as rendering, editing, workflow, archiving and restoration.

Shrek 2 gets a digital makeover

DreamWorks gets its computing power from Linux-based HP workstations and HP ProLiant servers, which accelerate the delivery of key computer graphic elements such as smoke, magic, liquid effects, clothing and textures in films such as Shrek 2.

New Linux-based technologies for off-site animation rendering and remote collaboration are also playing a starring role in the development of DreamWorks' movies such as Shark Tale and the animated TV series, Father of the Pride, which opens on the NBC TV network in the US this autumn.

HP's Utility Rendering Service (URS), developed with DreamWorks, will do the donkey work in bringing Shrek characters such as Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) back for a second outing this summer. URS is touted as a simpler, more flexible and scalable way to manage rendering farms. HP is effectively serving as an infrastructure extension of Dreamworks, providing peak compute power at crucial stages in the production process.

The HP URS was built by HP Labs using a 1,000-processor compute farm built from HP ProLiant DL360 servers running Linux and HP ProCurve network switches. It is linked via a secure, high-speed network to DreamWorks Animation studios. This gives the studio a pooled set of resources that can be tapped as needed (e.g. during the final stages of rendering Shrek 2) without requiring the studio to make a major capital investment. To date, more than a half million individual frames have been processed on the HP URS.

Once upon a time

HP has also partnered with DreamWorks to develop Virtual Studio Conferencing, which creates a virtual collaboration centre for producers, directors, and animators working in different locations around the world.

Using HP Remote 3D software and DreamWorks' high-resolution imaging technology, VSC links all creative elements together, enabling real-time communication and the efficient exchange of storyboarding, content review, editing, creative consulting and other vital production information.

HP is looking at ways of applying this technology to other customers outside of the entertainment industry, such as aerospace, biotech, consumer electronics and other industries where remote and sometimes disparate groups could benefit from the real-time exchange of information and ideas.

HP and DreamWorks teamed up in 2001 on the creation of the original Shrek, which won the inaugural Academy Award for Best Animated Film. ®

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