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DreamWorks creates virtual studio for cross-country collaboration

April 30, 2008 | Chris Payatagool
dreamworks_logo.gifhp_160x65px.jpgVirtual Studio enables actors to work virtually with animators.

Count actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld among those who have benefited from DreamWorks Animation's recent efforts to inject more collaboration into its film-making process.

With Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Halo Collaboration Studio as its centerpiece, DreamWorks built its Virtual Studio infrastructure over the past year not only to include more participation from entertainers, such as Seinfeld, but also to serve as a way for artists, animators, directors, producers and others scattered among geographically dispersed locations to participate in projects more fully.

DreamWorks Virtual Studio

This story is part of a series showcasing the best projects of this year's Premier 100 IT Leaders.

For Seinfeld, that meant far less buzzing back and forth between his beloved New York and DreamWorks' production facility in Glendale, Calif., for his work on the animated feature Bee Movie. DreamWorks also houses operations in a second production facility, in Redwood City, Calif.

"With Virtual Studio, we have reached out to and worked with talent in ways that were not feasible in the past," says Derek Chan, DreamWorks' head of digital operations. "Jerry Seinfeld's participation on Bee Movie is an excellent example. There were several occasions where he worked from his offices in New York."

While high-end telepresence systems appeal to corporations of all sizes, the technology largely remains a luxury of major companies such as DreamWorks, which worked with HP on both the concept and development of the Halo line, says Jayanth Angl, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group in Toronto.

"High capital and operating costs for equipment, network bandwidth and management make telepresence still limited to larger enterprises," Angl says. "Deployment typically constitutes a multimillion-dollar investment. However, smaller organizations are also looking at collaboration solutions that offer more flexibility, since they cannot always justify building dedicated videoconference rooms."

Although increased flexibility for those working on its animated films helped DreamWorks justify the purchase of such a setup, that wasn't the only goal the company sought to accomplish with this intensive IT project. It also used Virtual Studio to help divide the intensive processing requirements of animated films between its production houses.

McAdams is a freelance writer in Vienna, Va. Contact her at [email protected].

[via Computer World]

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