I was perusing the Internet and ran into this article on the making of The Dark Night. I have read many articles about special effects over the years, but this production seems over the top. They shot much of the video in IMax thus requiring substantially more storage capacity and CPU horsepower. Here are a few quotes:
To support the IMAX scenes, the studios could not work in full IMAX resolution, which is theoretically 18K; instead, the target resolution was approximately 8K, the maximum resolution for scanned film. Even that was difficult. “A single 8K frame requires 200 MB of data,” Franklin says. “So we had to upgrade our whole infrastructure. We needed faster network speeds to move data around, massively beefed up servers, and — the most important thing — a new compositing solution.”
Wow, so they were editing much higher resolution and it required them to completely update all of their computer hardware to handle the capacity.
Additional acreage in the render farm amped up the processing power. “For Batman Begins, we had 200 RenderMan licenses, each of which ran on dual-processor machines,” Franklin says. “For this film, we beefed up to 900 licenses, each running on four processors — 3600 processors. The limiting factor was how much power we could get into the building.”
Okay so they increased the number of rendering engines by more than 4x AND went to quad core processors. The scope of this upgrade is amazing. It also makes me wonder about the supporting infrastructure. What are they using for storage? For networking (storage and LAN )? It is a bit mind blowing to think about this and is a testament to how far we have come with CGI effects. I have wondered in the past about why we need 16 core CPUs and here is a perfect example of where this could provide immediate benefits.