Pixomondo Brings ‘Game of Thrones’ to Life, Pays Homage to ‘Star Trek’ Franchise

Category: In Focus
Award-winning visual effects studio Pixomondo utilized Dell solutions to quickly and reliably generate visual effects for the small screen as well as the big screen, specifically for the hit series “Game of Thrones” and the feature film “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

Pixomondo relied on a complete Dell solution comprised of Dell Precision workstations, Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell PowerVault storage, and Dell UltraSharp monitors to conceive larger-than-life animations and tackle tough design challenges for season two of the Emmy-Award-winning TV series "Game of Thrones" and to work on critical scenes in J.J. Abrams' epic "Star Trek Into Darkness."

"We started to work on 'Game of Thrones' for season two, taking the job of creating all the visual effects for that series," said Sven Martin, visual effects supervisor at Pixomondo. "This was an enormous undertaking on a TV series with a tight schedule, and thanks to the speed and reliability we get from our Dell workstations, monitors, servers and storage, and the support we get from Dell's IT [group], we were not only able to meet the tough expectations, we were also brought on for season three."

"It was exceptionally rewarding and very challenging to work on the 'Star Trek' franchise and create something new that would still pay homage to the original," said Ben Grossmann, visual effects supervisor at Pixomondo. "The Dell workstations and servers gave us computational firepower to render the massive 3D images around the clock."

To create mystical castles worthy of "Games of Thrones," giant ship explosions, and lifelike fire-breathing dragons that integrate seamlessly into scenes with real-life characters, it takes robust computing power, quick render times, and reliable technology. To tackle these demands, Pixomondo used Dell Precision T5500 and T5600 tower workstations to create complex content quickly, and Dell UltraSharp U2410, U2711, and U2312HM monitors for detailed display. The studio also used Dell PowerVault MD3220 and MD1220 storage, and Dell PowerEdge R410, R620, and R720 servers in its renderfarm for quick segment turnaround, allowing for more rounds of tweaking and, ultimately, a better final product before deadline.

For "Star Trek Into Darkness," Pixomondo was challenged with creating 380 pivotal shots that would satisfy the unique expectation of a fan base spanning 50 years. To do this, Pixomondo utilized Dell Precision T7600 and T5500 workstations with Nvidia Quadro K4000 graphics cards, Dell UltraSharp U2410 monitors, and Dell PowerEdge R510, R410, and R310 servers. The Dell hardware enabled Pixomondo to explore new areas inside the iconic USS Enterprise Ship, such as the engine room, the lethally radioactive warp core, and the labyrinth of corridors throughout the ship. It also let Pixomondo push the limits on action-packed sequences of the film, such as the attack on Starfleet Headquarters, a high-speed pursuit above the Klingon home world of Kronos, followed by an intense battle on the surface of the entirely computer graphics- (CG-) generated world. (See a making-of "Star Trek" video at Pixomondo Reel.)

Pixomondo also relied on Dell solutions to help the "Game of Thrones" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" teams work on projects 24/7 from offices around the world and from within many different departments. The studio's Dell infrastructure helps teams in London, Stuttgart, Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Beijing, and Burbank (CA) collaborate on projects without missing a beat, and Dell's global media solution allows Pixomondo to sync large amounts of data across these global teams while greatly reducing storage costs.

"Our Dell infrastructure allows us to distribute the work over multiple departments, having specialized artists on each task," said Martin. "This and the speed of the Dell technology allow us to fulfill very complex tasks and handle high amounts of shots in short production times."

"We are constantly striving to provide our customers with high-performing and reliable solutions for their specific needs," said Neil Hand, vice president, tablet and performance PCs at Dell. "We are always amazed by the visual effects work Pixomondo develops , which are among the best in the industry, on our technology; it represents the epitome of our 'Power to Do More' philosophy."

Pixomondo was responsible for one-third of the visual effects in "Star Trek Into Darkness", all visual effects in "Game of Thrones " season two, the digital creatures and hero environments in season three, and the entirety of Time Warner's "Game of Thrones" commercial, in close partnership with the series' production team.

For a detailed story on the creation of the VFX for "Star Trek Into Darkness," see the May/June 2013 issue of CGW.



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