HP to Be a Force at Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm Ltd. has signed a three-year, multi-million dollar technology and marketing agreement with Hewlett Packard (HP). Following the lead of other major digital content creators such as DreamWorks Animation, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures, the house that George built will install HP xw9300 Workstations for use in upcoming animation, visual effects and video game productions.

Powered by Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors, the HP Workstations at Lucasfilm will run both Linux and Windows XP operating environments in both 32-bit and 64-bit modes, with in-house software applications for creation and editing. In addition, HP Adaptive Enterprise solutions will provide the studio with storage and business management applications. The HP StorageWorks XP12000 Disk Array with 35-terabyte capacity was chosen by Lucasfilm to securely store and archive critical information.

“HP clearly understands the nature of the entertainment business, and the need to capitalize on and manage change,” says Cliff Plumer, chief technology officer for Lucasfilm. “With this agreement we will continue expanding the quality of our entertainment offerings and meet the constantly rising expectations of consumers when it comes to movies and video games.”

HP’s Jim Zafarana, VP of worldwide marketing for workstation global business unit, adds, “Their applications on the special effects side are Lunux-based, internally developed applications and I think by going through their own benchmarking for those workloads, they found the architecture to be right for them. I believe that the dual PCI Express graphics capabilities that we enable through the NVIDIA chipset is of great value to them to get ultimate graphics performance as well.”

Lucasfilm will install around 1,000-1,5000 HP xw9300 Workstations in its Letterman Digital Arts center in San Francisco and Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore. And while that represents a big sale for HP, Zafarana tells us the real value comes from association with the Lucas empire.

“There is definitely a halo effect with having a large, respected customer announce publicly that they have adopted your technology, and more importantly, desiring to partner with us at multiple levels,” Zafarana notes. “If I look back at the DreamWorks relationship we built over time, that has really earned us a lot of credibility and it’s been responsible, I think, for us kind of systematically taking down some of the best names in entertainment media.”

Zarfarana cites IDC reports indicating that HP achieved 46% market share of the branded Opteron high-end workstation market as of the second quarter of 2005. “I think what this [Lucasfilm] announcement will do is, again, give credibility to that platform, as well as the rest of our Intel-based portfolio,” he states.

HP workstations have been employed to create such DreamWorks Animation features as Shrek, Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Shark Tale. Zarfarana says HP is also focused on partnering with independent animation studios and going after the schools that are feeding the industry’s ever-growing need for talent. More information about HP is available at www.hp.com.