Case Study for Penguin Computing

Gemini Man movie poster with Will Smith

Background 

 

While the film was originally conceived in the ‘90s, Ang Lee’s Gemini Man wouldn’t hit theaters until October 2019. Lee’s vision for the film was ambitious: Gemini Man would feature the first convincingly human CGI character. According to Lee, “The story has been around for 20 years, but technology wouldn’t allow the story to be told.”

Lee was after unprecedented levels of cinematic realism, not only in the film’s digitally rendered effects, but in the complete experience of viewing Gemini Man. While movies are typically shot in 2K, 24 frames per second (FPS) 2D, Lee planned to shoot Gemini Man in 4K, 120 FPS stereoscopic 3D. The result would be a groundbreakingly immersive film, but would require processing and storing massive volumes of high fidelity data, a technological feat previously thought impossible. Adding to the technical complexity, that data would need to be available on multiple sets as Lee and his team moved to several locations in the U.S. and Europe. 

Characterized by high resolution data utilized at high data rates, the Gemini Man workload presented a difficult challenge requiring a unique, custom-curated solution that standard proprietary solutions offered by most infrastructure providers couldn’t match.

Gemini Man’s I/O performance requirements far surpassed existing industry standards. Consider that the required 120 FPS not only exceeds industry standards, it also is greater than what the human eye is capable of perceiving, and the magnitude of the task at hand starts to become clear. Shooting 120 FPS requires the equivalent of 6.7 gigabytes of data per eye, but the physical limits of technology at the time (12.5 gigabytes) fell short of realizing Lee’s vision. Stereoscopic 3D adds to the complexity by requiring multiple and simultaneous viewing angles to be processed in parallel. To produce Gemini Man as Lee imagined required a tech partner capable of exceeding industry standards, as well as operating at the theoretical limits of HPC possibility to meet the film’s rigorous and unique compute and storage requirements.

To meet these challenges, Gemini Man’s Technical Supervisor, Ben Gervais, engaged Penguin Computing to design, deliver and support a custom solution, relying on the company’s expertise in understanding HPC workloads. 

Leveraging over 20 years of experience driving open HPC advancements, Penguin Computing curated the market’s most innovative technologies available to develop a differentiated approach: a customer-defined architecture which consisted of design, consulting, and professional services coupled with FrostByteTM, Penguin Computing’s customizable software defined storage (SDS) solution. 

To support the environment throughout the entire project as it moved from Georgia, in the U.S. to Budapest, Hungary and back to New York, Penguin Computing created high-performance storage hardware that was uniquely mobile. This enabled Ang Lee to record takes and review footage on location to determine if retakes were necessary without requiring the use of remotely located data centers with HPC capabilities. 

Operating at the outer limit of technological possibility, Penguin Computing’s custom HPC solution enabled Lee’s 4K, 120 FPS stereoscopic 3D vision, thus redefining what is possible in HPC, and in film.

To tell this story, Penguin Computing enlisted the help of Karbo Communications to produce a case study video which visually communicated the technology innovation that was provided to Ang Lee to make Gemini Man possible.

Objectives

  • Communicate the value Penguin Computing brings to the Media and Entertainment vertical by clearly differentiating FrostByte from competitors. Articulate Penguin’s unmatched value proposition, market leading technology and expertise.
  • Produce a compelling customer case study video - to debut at Penguin Computing’s largest industry conference Supercomputing - which demonstrated the company’s industry leading technology capabilities and expertise in service to the Media and Entertainment vertical.
  • Deliver a full service experience to Penguin Computing which included developing messaging, concepting and scripting the video, procuring a film crew and coordinating interview shoots, managing the project and all parties involved, and delivering the final assets. The final deliverables included a four minute case study video, a subtitled version to play at the tradeshow booth, shortened clips for social media, and accompanying social media posts.
  • Increase new business leads.

Execution

 

Karbo Communications managed the entire video production process from the initial concept to final creative assets. Karbo Communications developed a project plan and led the initiative smoothly, ahead of schedule and within the scope of the budget.  The agency recommended creating a messaging framework to align the narrative and to ensure all key messages were reflected in the final deliverables. Karbo Communications deployed a video production team. Additionally, the agency managed on-site film shoots at Penguin Computing’s offices and on location in Los Angeles. The team supported video production by providing recommendations on the sequence of the videos and ensured that all desired key messages were clear in the final version.

Once the video case study was finalized, Karbo Communications worked to create three shortened video clips for social media that focused on the three core benefits of the solution Penguin Computing provided to Ang Lee. The agency then worked to create a comprehensive social media campaign to roll out the videos in accordance with Penguin Computing’s largest show of the year, Supercomputing. Not only were the videos strategically promoted across social media, but they were displayed at the Penguin Computing booth and presented on stage during an executive keynote. Karbo Communications also delivered a version of the video with closed captioning to play at the booth without requiring viewers to need audio on a noisy conference show floor.

Results

 

Karbo Communications delivered video and social assets on schedule and within budget, which helped Penguin Computing to visually communicate the value they bring to the Media and Entertainment vertical at their largest and most important trade show of the year, Supercomputing. 

Karbo Communications proactively secured coverage in target publications for Penguin Computing’s market as well as in Media and Entertainment publications to educate the M&E vertical and attract new customers. Additionally, Karbo Communications secured eight proactive interviews at the Supercomputing 2019 conference, giving executives ample opportunity to promote the work that was accomplished on this film by their team. 

Karbo Communications was named a Gold Winner in the 2020 Hermes Creative Awards and won the 2020 Silver Telly Award for the Gemini Man Case Study Video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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