Hollywood-style visual effects powered by IBM Cloud

In three months Prana Studios delivered a massive 24K resolution visual effects theme park attraction


The reason why many people do not care for amusement park thrill rides may actually be the same reason why some people love them: they’re so real!

When a popular theme park needed visual effects for a ride that debuted in the summer of 2016, it turned to Prana Studios, a full-service 3-D animation and visual effects studio with production offices in Los Angeles, CA and Mumbai, India.

Prana Studios creates state-of-the-art visual imagery for full-length animated films, short-form media and special venue attractions and collaborates with major Hollywood studios and independent production companies throughout the world. With highly popular animation projects to its credits like Disney’s Tinkerbell franchise and the Planes franchise, it has also produced award winning visual effects for various movies and TV series including Game of Thrones, among many others. It also won the India Filmfare and FICCI Frames awards recently for its stellar visual effects work on Bombay Velvet and Byomkesh Bakshy respectively.

For the thrill-ride project, Prana wanted to render one of the world’s first 24K resolution full 3D-stereo imagery projected at 60 frames per second (FPS) through 12 projectors on the venue. To put it in perspective, regular film or TV resolution is high definition (HD: 1920x1080p) and only beginning to move to ultra-high definition (UHD), which is 4K with the frame rates normally being either 24, 25 or 30 FPS. The 24K resolution for the theme park project was to maintain visual fidelity on a massive 400-foot wide U-shaped ride screen. The ride also included hydraulics on the ride vehicle as well 3D-stereo for a completely immersive experience. The company turned to IBM for the compute power and storage that the job would demand. IBM provided a hybrid solution of 1000 bare metal servers with 48 cores and 256 GB RAM each on the SoftLayer cloud infrastructure. The solution used a 50 TB distributed storage network of 35 nodes built with IBM Spectrum Scale. The ultra large files were efficiently and securely transferred using Aspera software.

IBM was the only vendor that could provide this high-performance scalable and secure solution quickly. Prana eventually computed 5,958,569 tasks on the IBM Cloud and the total compute hours added up to 11,817 human years! The massive compute scale becomes apparent if you compare that with the fact that it would take mankind 7 months to reach Mars on the fastest spaceship available today! IBM was mission critical to the successful and timely delivery of the show which has helped Prana set a new creative and technical benchmark in their domain.

The lines at the theme park attraction have been long as thrill-seekers eagerly await this much-anticipated new ride. The ante has been upped from the clack clack sound of wooden roller coasters and “spooky” holographic images. Today’s thrill rides are multi-sensory, multi-dimensional experiences that leave riders feeling like they’re actually in the midst of scary monsters, bad guys, or pirates. At such high resolution and 60 FPS stereo content coupled with state of the art ride vehicle hydraulics, the riders can only perceive the content as thrilling and exciting reality!