Big Data

Data Lakes are Driving Hollywood

Jeffrey Abbott By Jeffrey Abbott February 24, 2016

Spoiler alert. Turns out Avatar was not filmed. That’s right. They used computers, not real aliens, and it was 100% digital. I watched this movie with my kids last week, and had the epiphany that the movie is strikingly similar to Dances with Wolves, but set in the future, and with robots and blue aliens (but that’s another discussion).  However, as you probably know, 5 years after its release, Avatar is still a marvel of digital eye candy.

To make Avatar, the “film” production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, built a data lake using EMC Isilon to embrace and leverage all the possibilities with the available digital technologies, while eliminating data silos that had previously limited collaboration across geographically dispersed vendors. The production company created and stored 250-300TB of data to make Avatar. The upcoming sequels could generate 10’s of petabytes, according to Tim Bicio, CTO of Lightstorm Entertainment. The result promises to be a much higher fidelity performance due to the increased ability for many groups to access and leverage a single repository with petabytes of accessible data (structured and unstructured). For example, the Isilon-based data lake enables one working group in New Zealand, and another in California, to work off the same data sets in real time, as if the data is local to both users – enhancing collaboration  and speeding production cycles. When you consider the massive budgets for these blockbuster movies, and the number of people who roll through the ending credits, you can begin to imagine how valuable a scalable data lake is by bringing hundreds of tech vendors together to work toward the same goal. Check out this very cool video that shows how this magic comes to life on your screen:

Avatar Screenshot1[1]

Jeffrey Abbott

About Jeffrey Abbott


Jeff is part of EMC’s Global Services division, helping customers understand how to identify, and take advantage of, opportunities in Big Data. Prior to EMC, Jeff helped build and promote a cloud-based ecosystem for CA Technologies that combined an online community, cloud development platform, and e-commerce site for cloud services. Jeff also spent several years within CA’s Thought Leadership group, creating and promoting top-level messaging and social-media programs around major disruptive trends in IT. Prior to this, Jeff spent 3 years at EMC, marketing IT management software products. Jeff’s marketing career also includes time at Citrix, as well as numerous marketing firms – one of which he founded with 2 former colleagues in 1999. Jeff lives in Sudbury, MA, with his wife, 2 boys, and dog. Jeff enjoys skiing, backpacking, photography, and classic cars.

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