Triggerfish is an award-winning South African animation studio based in Cape Town.
Before working with ERA, its technical infrastructure struggled to keep pace with ever-expanding storage demands. South Africa’s IT industry is primarily focused on banking rather than media, meaning the recommended solutions were often unsuitable for Triggerfish’s incredibly high storage and specific media and entertainment (M&E) requirements.
As such, in the latter stages of making Netflix’s Seal Team, Triggerfish’s co-founder and director James Middleton concluded that it was time to update the company’s storage and server infrastructure with a bespoke media M&E-centric workflow fit for the high-bandwidth and high-performance demands of modern high-end animation.
The production window for an artist working on a 90-minute movie like Seal Team is just over two years, with teams growing over time to reach around 140 artists and workstations and 20 support staff working in the same building.
Although the Triggerfish team might send a 2K, hour-and-a-half project such as this to post-production in files of only a few hundred GB, it can amass some 600 TB of storage from multiple components: assets, versions of assets, scenes, characters, costumes, skin textures — the list goes on. Artists may need to keep the last eight versions of a scene alive to retain the appropriate level of flexibility.
Triggerfish found that this became a challenge in the latter stages of production when workstations and render nodes work even harder to create the final renders of scenes — placing incredible pressure on active storage.
Middleton commented: ‘At the time, we had 570 TB of spinning disc and about 40 TB of solid-state drive (SSD), but we did not have an automatic tiering system. Even though our spinning discs were arranged in a way that gave us quite a lot of performance, we still hit bottlenecks when rendering, causing blockages and downtime. We had software processes that would define the latest versions and put them in an inappropriate folder, but it was never a seamless workaround’.