Going cloud-native to bring VFX to life

The words ‘Going cloud-native to bring VFX to life’ overlaid on a lightly-blurred image of red cinema seats. Decorative: the words ‘cloud-native’ are in yellow, while other words are in white. The ITPro podcast logo is in the bottom right corner.
(Image credit: Future / Unsplash - Felix Mooneeram)

If you’ve seen Oppenheimer, Dune, or Blade Runner 2049, then you’ve seen the work of DNEG. The British visual effects firm, formerly known as Double Negative, has had to contend with growing compute and data demands in its 26 year history, with thousands of hours of rendering required to bring the latest visuals from servers to the cinema screen. 

In recent years, DNEG’s legacy infrastructure began to feel the strain of this task, leading the firm to work with Red Hat to adopt a cloud-native approach.

In this episode, Jane and Rory speak to Ian Abbott, software architect at DNEG, and Ollie Harding, software infrastructure architect at DNEG, to discuss how the visual effects firm has adopted a cloud-native approach to help its artists be more productive.


“We'd reached the limit of how we could develop, deploy our solutions in in that framework. I imagine many listeners can imagine the coordination aspect of developing software to be deployed to many 1000s of workstations and servers, it can take an hour to build your software but it can easily take a day or two to organise for people to get that software. Or if you look at really bad cases, it could take some weeks to organise for artists who actually end up using that software.”

“The creative aspect is what we really want to keep at the fingertips of the artist. And in an absolutely ideal world, all of that stuff would be on on CPUs and GPUs right in front of them, I suppose. But there are so many kind of hidden aspects, you could be forgiven for calling it the boring part, which is how you keep track of everything that they've done. I think we took some took some stats from our production database a while ago, and we've got a little over 100 million unique digital assets. And something like a billion connections between digital assets.”

“For example with DNEG we're a global company, we're always expanding. And using things like the GitOps component in our OpenShift clusters mean that we can, very quickly, if we decide to expand to another area of the world, we can set up our clusters, and we can just configure those up.”



Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at rory.bathgate@futurenet.com or on LinkedIn.