Lights, Camera, Render!

Computer networks make animated movies possible.

Old-school animated movies were hand-drawn, frame by frame. It took time and skill. Today's digitally animated movies also take time and skill, but not in the same way. Jon Gold of Network World looks at how DreamWorks uses technology to create blockbuster movies like Moana and Shrek.

Hundreds of digital artists work to bring an animated movie to life. Each artist generates huge amounts of data. The numbers are staggering - the average movie may have 350TB of data contained in more than 500 million files. Handling this amount of data poses challenges for an ordinary network. Gold describes how DreamWorks has set up their network to respond to the workload and the changing needs of the film studio throughout the film's production.

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Discussion Questions/Activities
  1.  What's the most recent animated movie your students have seen? How did it compare with older animated movies, such as Snow White or Alice in Wonderland? Does your school offer classes in digital animation? 
  2. Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to research a digital animation studio such as Pixar or DreamWorks. The groups should try to learn as much as they can about the animation process and the technology required to support it. Each group should present their findings to the class.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to research the mass media and 3D animation courses available, either at your institution or elsewhere. What knowledge does a student need to have when they begin this course of study? What skills and knowledge will they have upon graduating? What career paths are available in these areas? Students should write a brief report detailing their findings.

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