Dell’s Precision Mobile Workstation has enabled a senior production designer to create exciting, fully immersive event experiences
Lauren Smith is a Senior Production Designer at Bellwether, a multi-disciplinary team that includes producers, lighting designers, audio engineers and everybody else who works together to pull off a corporate event.
As a designer, Smith is generally one of the first to begin working in the preproduction process – and stays involved through to the event’s launch.
“I’ll start with a series of pencil sketches to give [the client] a few options,” Smith explains. “When they pick an avenue, then I’ll use Vectorworks to come up with a very basic 3D model and I’ll save some wireframe perspective views. After that step, we will typically get it budgeted and then I’ll create a more photorealistic rendering. And for that I might work with Vectorworks’ built-in renderer, but more often than not, I’m going to be exporting it to Maxon Cinema D, and I’ve recently started using V-Ray with that.”
To support this everyday workload, Smith clearly needed a computer that could support such a graphics- and detail-heavy work process.
Using Dell Technologies’ Precision Workstation to support every event’s unique needs
Where Smith used to be limited to a stationery desktop, today, she does all her work on a mobile workstation, which can capably run 3D applications while also allowing her to travel easily to events. Smith recently upgraded to the Dell Precision 5750 Mobile workstation, which comes equipped with an Intel Xeon W-1055M processor, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 graphics card and 6GB of RAM.
For the kind of work Smith’s doing, a mid-to-high range graphics card like the Quadro RTX 3000 is necessary. Having spent much of her career seeking new and better visualization techniques, including most recently VR, Smith is excited to see what comes next. She points to real-time ray-traced rendering as a “huge game changer for designers” that has come about in the last few years thanks to RT Cores, a processing component of NVIDIA RTX graphics cards that enables hardware accelerated real-time ray tracing.
“With the Dell Precision and NVIDIA RTX, I can create high-quality renderings fast with the convenience of a lightweight, portable laptop,” Smith said.
Flying through fly-through animations
Before an upcoming meeting with a client, Smith would spend hours creating fly-through animations to demonstrate a visual concept. And if a detail was forgotten – like, say, a light was off that was supposed to be on – she would have to re-rend it all over again. With the strength of the Precision Workstation backing her up now, the rendering is done in real-time, on-the-fly if you will, and in front of a client, thereby allowing Smith to present – and adjust – any details she wants.
“Real-time rendering saves you so much of that headache,” Smith praised. “And with the advent of real-time ray-traced rendering with NVIDIA RTX, I can deliver ever more realistic images for my customers.”
A whole new perspective: 360-degree images
For Smith, the ability to export 360-degree images from Vectorworks and other BIM software to view in a web browser has been a real game changer. When compared to a 2D rendering, 360-degree images provide her with a much better sense of the event’s physical space.
“You can connect multiple 360 images to make a virtual tour, which is really cool,” Smith explained. “In the past you would have had to send the client several separate 2D images and they would each be from one viewpoint. And some people just aren’t visual people, and they don’t understand how those things match. But if you give them a virtual tour, it helps them build that relationship in their mind.”
Looking ahead, Smith is betting big on virtual reality.
“Instead of drawing on my computer or sketching on a piece of paper, I’m actually dropping 3D objects in while I’m in VR with my headset on,” Smith envisions. Even better than that would be inviting clients to be part of the process, she added.
Fortunately, she has the workstation outfitted with the technology to support this exciting new frontier.
Dell Precision workstation with AMD Radeon PRO graphics improves throughput and turnaround time on GPU-intensive rendering and special effects processing
Theory Studios, an Orlando-based, high-end animation company, employs a global team of graphics professionals to deliver high-quality visuals to clients around the world.
Much of the company’s success can be attributed to its incredibly tight production pipeline – assets go from the early concept stage to content creation, animation, compositing, and all the way through final rendering and post-production effects.
But with the company’s many successful projects came a significant increase in workload. This, in turn, led to an immediate need to improve throughput and turnaround time on GPU-intensive rendering and special effects processing.
Identifying the right solution
At Theory Studios, there is a constant flow of files moving from stage to stage within the production pipeline – specific individuals handle specific tasks, and use their PCs, as well as server-based assets (either in the cloud or on-premises) to handle the enormous processing loads associated with each project.
It’s here we arrive at the crux of the company’s efficiency issue – a graphics workstation is not only used for content creation by artists, but also put to work as a rendering machine to process raw assets. Some of these tasks might take hours or even days to complete.
Reducing this unattended render-time can be a major solution to improving the company’s overall efficiency.
Processing times were reduced by 50%
In searching for a solution, Theory Studios was introduced to the Dell Precision workstation, which immediately helped the company improve its turnaround time. This is because in building the workstation, Dell Technologies teamed up with AMD to provide Theory Studios with a Dell Precision 3630 Tower that came equipped with an AMD Radeon™ PRO W5500 8GB GPU, 32 GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM, and a 512 GB NVMe® Class 40 SSD. This unique configuration was specially built to take on demanding graphics tasks and turn them out quickly and reliably.
For example, while working with a remote colleague on deliverables for a major theme park in East Asia, the company used the Dell / AMD workstation to run After Effects file export jobs that which other colleagues were running on a machine just one generation older. The results were a 50% improvement in export time.
“All of a sudden, a six-hour file export on that other PC was reduced to a three-hour export on the Dell Precision 3630.”
- David Andrade, Founder, Theory Studios
The workstation again proved itself valuable on a recent character animation project for a children's series. Theory Studios was able to shift the After Effects elements to the workstation instead, which eliminated the need of having the compositor wait for it to run to completion on his own PC before tackling the next job in the queue.
Theory Studios now enjoys the simplicity of pre-configured Dell workstations equipped with the power of AMD Radeon PRO graphics for all its many types of projects.
Learn more about the Dell Precision workstation and the Theory Studios story by viewing the PDF below
The benefits of real-time ray tracing for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) cannot be overstated. For those unfamiliar, ray tracing is a method of graphics rendering that simulates the physical behavior of light. For architects and engineers, this solution affords better visibility and enhanced communication at all stages of a project which, in turn, results in exceptionally designed buildings and infrastructure. It helps to eliminate costly errors and can be used to keep everything on track.
To get started with enjoying the benefits of the above-described modern real-time workflow, customers must not focus on budget when defining workstation configurations. Instead, they must consider (and only consider) application and workflow requirements. That’s because with proper configuration, workstations can help AEC customers radically improve design decision making, speed up the creation of renders and animations, and ultimately enjoy a major advantage over their competitors.
Now, unfortunately real-time ray tracing cannot be supported on a workstation designed to run CAD or BIM software with just an entry-level to mid-range GPU. To support this level of processing, architects and engineers need a machine that is built for the task at hand.
Enter Dell’s Precision workstations, all of which are certified to work with the most popular 2D and 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software applications from popular Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). They come equipped with a dedicated NVIDIA RTX or Quadro RTX GPU to empower designers with the ability to iterate more and see the impact of accurate lighting, shadows, and reflections, and to do so in real time.
Here it’s worth pausing to note that the latter point is an important one to call out. Design visualization can provide an architect or engineer with incredible insight into a project as it develops. However, to exert the greatest influence, the results must be delivered in real time so that decisions can be adjusted and workflow can continue without interruption.
Dell offers a range of desktop and mobile workstations that are suitable for design visualization and real-time ray tracing. The desktop workstations offer more performance and scalability than the mobile workstations, with the higher-end models being fully customizable and able to support more than one CPU with lots of cores, one or more GPUs, and expandable memory and storage.
That’s not to diminish the value of the mobile workstations, of course, which have the major benefit of being highly portable. The recently launched Dell Precision 5560, 5760, 7560, and 7760 mobile workstations offer GPU options ranging from the NVIDIA RTX™ A2000 up to the RTX A5000. So, not only do they afford portable rendering, these workstations can do so while also handling highly demanding visualization workflows.
Learn more about what makes the Dell Precision workstation the ideal solution for AEC rendering by downloading the white paper below: Selecting the Right Workstation for AEC Rendering