HOLLYWOOD — DreamWorks has tapped Hewlett-Packard to provide technology to the studio’s computer-animation operation over the next three years. The deal is HP’s largest to date with a studio.
The multimillion-dollar deal designates HP DreamWorks’ sole “preferred technology provider” for core technology purchases, including workstations, servers, printers, networking and Linux technologies.
For example, HP will provide a broad range of products and services to expand DreamWorks’ computer-animation studio on its Glendale campus. DreamWorks operates that and a Palo Alto, Calif., facility together with Pacific Data Images.
The new Glendale facility, which will open over the next nine months and begin production on pics early next year, will include more than 200 high-end Linux-based workstations, a 500-processor 64-bit Linux renderfarm, 15 terabytes of storage and a high-speed Ethernet-based infrastructure.
HP and DreamWorks also will explore technologies that could enable creative collaboration by producers, directors, animators and others working from remote locations, similar to digital networking services already developed by TRW’s PicturePipeLine, WamNet and Media.net, among others.
While DreamWorks declined to disclose just how much money the deal was worth, Ed Leonard, head of technology for DreamWorks animation, said the toon division’s infrastructure will be reduced by half, thus cutting costs considerably, and production will be four to 10 times faster than in the past.
As part of the deal, HP will receive product and brand placement within DreamWorks’ live-action films and will use animated characters to pitch its products to consumers.
“Technology has been pivotal to our success at DreamWorks,” said co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Our goal is to remain on the cutting edge, both creatively and technically, and that’s why we’re excited about working with HP.”
DreamWorks first began working with HP during the production of “Shrek.” Engineers from HP’s graphics labs also developed enhancements to Linux software to help power DreamWorks’ proprietary animation software ToonShooter. This tool was essential to the production of DreamWorks’ upcoming animated pic, “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”
HP is in the middle of merging with computer giant Compaq, which itself has made significant inroads into Hollywood. The company’s technology is powering the computer animation for Fox’s upcoming “Ice Age” at Blue Sky Studios.