DreamWorks CEO: HP Has Played Huge Role In Our Success

Hewlett-Packard is going through a tumultuous period, but longtime partner DreamWorks Animation has got its back.

In a Tuesday keynote at HP Discover in Las Vegas, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg highlighted the role HP technology has played in the making of the animation firm's series of blockbuster films. He also offered a glimpse of how DreamWorks is using strategic HP technologies such as cloud computing, security and big data analytics to make its business run more efficiently.

DreamWorks was HP's first cloud-computing customer, signing up five years ago to use what was then known as HP Flexible Computing Services. DreamWorks uses HP cloud infrastructure to handle spikes in compute demand, and it is currently offloading about 20 percent of its animation rendering to HP, Katzenberg said, adding that this figure is "steadily increasing".

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"Without the cloud, we would have to invest tens of millions of dollars in physical [infrastructure] expansion," Katzenberg said.

With the arrival of multi-core processors, cloud is becoming even more important to the animation industry.

DreamWorks is working with HP and Intel on a set of tools that will enable animation artists to work on characters at full resolution, in real time, without rendering, according to Katzenberg.

Katzenberg said these tools are part of what is probably the largest R&D project ever undertaken by a technology company. "Until now, artists have had to work at the speed of technology. Soon they will be able to work at the speed of the imagination," he said.

DreamWorks is also a longtime customer of HP security software. HP provides "the best intrusion prevention system on the market," which is critical to keeping unreleased movies from being pilfered from DreamWorks' network and posted online, Katzenberg said.

For the upcoming "Madagascar 3," DreamWorks is using HP software to secure the half-billion or so files that comprise the film, he said.

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Autonomy, which HP acquired last year in a controversial $10.3 billion deal, is also of interest to DreamWorks. Autonomy's ability to make sense of "unstructured" data -- such as tweets, emails and videos -- can help DreamWorks gauge public response to films, Katzenberg said.

DreamWorks began its partnership with HP in 2001, the same year it released "Shrek." At the time, the animation firm faced a difficult challenge: The display industry was transitioning from CRT monitors to flat panels, but the newer technology did not maintain the same color fidelity.

As a result, Katzenberg said, flat panels could make Shrek appear as a different shade of green from scene to scene, and that forced DreamWorks to stockpile older CRT monitors and run them until they burned out. Since this wasn't sustainable, DreamWorks contacted HP for help.

HP's invention of the DreamColor flat panel display, providing color fidelity that actually exceeded that of CRT monitors, set the tone for a partnership that has remained fruitful in the intervening years, according to Katzenberg.

"In the beginning they were essential to our development," Katzenberg said at the event. "A decade later, we have progressed to being a testing ground for HP technology. We offer real world validation for their cutting-edge capabilities."

HP CEO Meg Whitman is presiding over a difficult restructuring that will include the cutting of 27,000 jobs by the end of next year, and she has acknowledged that it may take years for HP to complete its turnaround.

Katzenberg, with the perspective of a partner who has seen HP go through its share of ups and downs over the past 11 years, gave Whitman a resounding vote of confidence.

"I could not be more confident about [HP's] future," Katzenberg told Discover attendees.