Stereoscopic: A "Suite" Solution!

So I've promised details previously, and details you shall have!

Our full Stereoscopic solution is finally here, and we've shipped it out to its first adopters,a well known soho studio. The project will be rolled out as a story from their perspective in a couple of weeks, but for now, let's have a word about the technology behind it all.

The suite comprises of 3 parts; infrastructure, hardware and software. Let's go through them.

Infrastructure
The backbone of the suite is provided by a slightly modified Boston Igloo machine, which is a direct attached storage solution with 24 bays, and a very robust/customizable platform that we've been using for various different projects, consultations and startups. We had to put some black magic into the machine, including a very powerful RAID card for better interaction than the typical, as well as 10 gigabit ethernet and some lightweight linux server structure to handle iSCSI interaction between 10 gigabit and the RAID blocks themselves.

From all our tweaks and tinkering, we've managed to pull the fully populated, 24TB igloo into two halves which wind up being an effective 10.903TB each. These two halves of the physical and virtual units are intended to be a left eye stream, and a right eye stream for stereoscopic purposes. They are two fully seperate RAIDs, handled by a single controller, which hands off to the 10 gigE and linux to iSCSI bind it onto the interface to move away from the unit. Sounds a bit complicated, I know - but this is all something that's pre-configured by us before we even ship the units to site.

For the purpose of the initial commission, we went with an HP rack as per requests, but can rack this into anything with a 4U space and enough cooling to cover BTUs from 900W. We can extend this distance up to about 30m, which is the current (speculative) limitation of CX4 terminated 10 gigabit ethernet.

Front-end Hardware
So the back-end is sorted and firing out 700mbps post all the tuning and configuration, but how are we going to utilize this unit? Well, we bring it via the CX4 10gigE into the workstation of our client's choice, and for the initial project, we've chosen the HP Z400 workstation. We've dropped in a Myrinet 10gigE platform to be the acceptor of the bandwidth, and added a 3800 series Quadro FX graphics board into the machine. The first comission didn't require an SDI board, but this is certainly possible for any suite configuration. The power of the i7 platform and 6gb of DDR3 is all that's required to run this, so the workstation comes in at a pretty nice price!

Panelling is a discussion that's very dependent on people's usage and workflow. Saying that, the first project has been intended for an 8-bit DVI->HDMI connection from the card to a JVC Stereo 46" panel. Lovely stuff! There's also an Eizo CG series panel for the software to run from where the JVC is for the playback.

There are many options to choose from, inclusive of Grade 1 and 2 solutions from Eizo, TVLogic as well as JVC - and with an SDI board being possible, the world is your oyster for choices!

Software
Great! We've got a lovely little platform going here, and our suite is starting to look quite neat! How do we drive it though? The software platform can be a variety of different setups, but in this instance the guys were after XP64-bit, and IRIDAS FrameCycler DDS. No problems there! We've tweaked a few registery bits and bobs to open up the raw power of 10gigE, gone with jumbo frames and other transmission window modifiers to get the full brunt of our backend power, and tuned up the graphics platforms to certify with FrameCycler and the JVC panel - and hey presto, we're ready to fire out some realtime 2K stereo, and we've got our glasses ready set to stun!

This isn't a limited option however. Don't despair if you're a linux-based studio or if you're anti-Windows! We love a challenge, so please, don't hesitate to get in touch if you've got any questions, ideas or interest in a suite! We've got a working platform for Linux and other versions of Windows as well.

Sounds good eh? Well, here's the best part. Inclusive of software, VAT, installation, shipping - literally everything under the sun to get this badboy working starts at around £30,000. That's for an extended suite complete from start to finish that can hold 3 full film-2K resolution features and hit them all back in real-time!

So there you have it: a nice price for a great suite! We've still got a few things up our sleeve, so make sure you watch this space and our website for details of upcoming demo events - both in Soho (London) and at Escape Studios, as well as some fairly neat stories, pictures and future kit to be developed.

0 Comments Dan Young

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Dan Young
Fri 5 Feb 2010: 11:55am

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