When the curtains open, lights go down, conversations become hushed and the sound of popcorn-crunching ripples around packed cinemas, you know 'magic' is about to happen. All during the summer, audiences have been glued, speechless, to effects-filled movie blockbusters. But while the aliens, superheroes and cartoon characters have played out their lives on the big screen, have audiences been thinking about whether the characters will be able to get the girl, kill the bad guy and save the entire planet? Or have they been thinking about how much time it took to render each individual frame?
Chances are it won’t be the latter. This summer, people have been more interested in whether Batman comes good in The Dark Knight Rises; whether Spiderman will run out of webs inThe Amazing Spider-Man; or whether the reboot of Total Recallwas entirely necessary. Rendering and processing power aren’t at the forefront of a cinema audience’s mind. But they should at least give it some respect, because the formidable computing power that makes all these stunning graphics possible is equally awe-inspiring. Take Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel,Prometheus, for example. Some shots required nearly a Terabyte of data. That equates to the data stored on 120 dual-layer DVDs, or 20 Blu-ray disks, for the biggest individual shots.
The processing power involved in creating these movies is truly mind-blowing. So much so, that we’ve put together a summer blockbuster infographic (click on image to enlarge) to show you how much unseen work goes into creating these movies.
A CGI-heavy frame of a modern film contains an incredible amount of information. Scenes containing accurate lighting and shadows, fur or hair that moves naturally, or skin that looks almost real, can only be created with powerful networking foundations, because of the quantity of data they contain.
With such complex images being rendered, powerful processors are necessary to carry out astronomical numbers of instructions; large storage capacity is essential to hold the data; an extraordinary network is needed to transfer all files to where they’re needed; and teams of skilled professionals who make it all happen, acting as the unsung heroes of the summer blockbuster. How huge are these computing demands? Well, in the final week of production for Avatarthe production team required 40,000 processors to deal with 7-8 Gigabytes of data per second.
Brocade has worked alongside companies like Weta Digital, who helped create Avatar, and LucasArtsto bring these effects to the big screen. And, we’ll continue to work with some of the movie industry's biggest names to help bring the future blockbusters to the big screen. If, in the future, you’re sitting in a darkened cinema, sinking your teeth into a hot dog and enjoying the movie, spare a thought for the unsung heroes of the blockbuster who made those effects happen.