DreamWorks: The animation studio’s powerful network

If you don’t know what DreamWorks is, you probably haven’t been to the movies for a couple decades. It’s a digital film studio that turns out critically acclaimed CGI animated movies like Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda, averaging about two a year since the turn of the century, and a major contributor to the cause of keeping kids occupied for a couple of hours.

The creation of CGI movies is enormously demanding from a network standpoint. Animation and rendering require very low input latency and create huge files that have to be readily available, which poses technological challenges to the DreamWorks networking team.

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Between 300 and 500 artists work on any given DreamWorks feature, each of which takes four or five years to create. The process requires an average of 350TB of data, spread across 500 million-odd files. It turns out that even entertainment as light and airy as How to Train Your Dragon is pretty heavy lifting, from a computational perspective.

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