Telling the Story with Clarity and Performance
30 Ninjas meets the demands of VR video production with Dell workstations
When 30 Ninjas started creating original virtual reality (VR) shows for film and television, its creative designers faced a major challenge: how to review captured footage using a VR headset without losing resolution.
30 Ninjas, a VR and 360° video digital entertainment company, needed computers with powerful enough CPU and GPU to support production of its new original VR series, Invisible. “Doing virtual reality and 360° video, you can’t predict what it’s like without being in the headset and doing playback,” says Julina Tatlock, the company’s CEO. “When you can’t play back at full resolution — if you have to play back at 1/16th resolution and you can’t actually see someone’s expressions — then you can’t create a good story.”
Getting full-resolution playbacks with a powerful Dell workstation
The company chose to address its needs for better performance and resolution by implementing a Dell workstation, equipped with a NVIDIA Quadro M6000 graphics card. 30 Ninjas creative technologists use the machine to get full resolution video playback in real time, easily rendering the large data required for 360° video while running graphics-heavy programs at full performance. “When I started here, there was no pipeline to watch video in the headset,” says Lewis Smithingham, the firm’s president and head of virtual reality. “Then we got the Dell workstation, and all of a sudden I’m watching in full resolution and seeing things for the first time.”
Driving reliability and performance on live television
Soon after deploying its new solution, 30 Ninjas was hired to shoot four live VR television shows. “In television, they’re used to doing their own technology, and we needed to keep all our difficulties behind the curtain,” says Tatlock. The Dell solution delivered. “As a creative technologist working with the Dell workstation, I was enabled to have a reliability that I quite honestly didn’t expect,” says Smithingham.
During the show’s production, the 30 Ninjas team used the solution to support video playback, live camera switching, and color correction. Tatlock says, “Three major workflows were going through the machine, and it performed flawlessly.” Adds Smithingham, “I was hitting about 94 percent CPU and 60–70 percent GPU on the NVIDIA Quadro M6000, and it didn’t crash. The Dell machine and NVIDIA Quadro M6000 give us consistent pacing — they always run at the same speed and they don’t slow down.”
Four Computers in One
30 Ninjas has significantly increased its efficiency by deploying the Dell solution. “One of the best things about the Dell workstation is that it’s four computers in one,” says Tatlock. “We’re able to run our graphics-heavy programs, in addition to doing all the rendering we need to do for the large amounts of data that 360° video requires. It’s enormously efficient for us.”