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NetApp has been selected by 3Lateral to help deliver a data-driven approach for the creation of incredibly realistic human characters for video games, movies, and wider industrial and AI applications. 3Lateral, part of Epic Games, has pioneered the concept of digital humans for over a decade with its work featured in award-winning game, and film.

“Creating digital humans requires a deep understanding of every aspect of our appearance and motion, both of which portray our inner self and tell stories around us,” said Vladimir Mastilovic, founder and director of 3Lateral. “We read all these visual cues with great precision as instinct to analyze an image of another human being is deeply embedded in our DNA.”

Behind the realistic models that can be controlled in real time is a data-driven approach which requires the studio to collect data with a unique facial scanner, soon to be peaking at 1 PB per scanning session. Multiple teams at 3Lateral using both custom software and cloud environments use this data to generate realistic models and scenes. The data pipeline has to integrate with multiple project requirements for a variety of unique hardware, software and synthesise technologies.

3Lateral and NetApp developed a data fabric based on AFF and FAS platforms that could follow up the immediate challenges, which also meets the needs for further development, storage capacity demands and workflow changes. The data fabric allows seamless access to petabytes of data that spans multiple technology foundations. In preparation for the massive performance requirements of the future, the teams are experimenting with enhancing their data fabric with NetApp Memory Accelerated Data (MAX Data).

The integration could then be extended with a NetApp Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) and NetApp Kubernetes Services (NKS), enabling the studio to further simplify and accelerate their development environment. The teams at 3Lateral predict an increase in data density and Mastilovic aims to develop a framework which enables people to create new applications in industries beyond the entertainment sector.

A wide range of applications in medicine, biometrics and research are possible. For this purpose, Mastilovic considers scaling up the cloud capacities of 3Lateral to cover further spikes. According to him, a data fabric strategy offers the necessary “gateway to the cloud”. “Working with 3Lateral has been an exciting project that showcases the potential of a data fabric enabled by NetApp solutions,” said Matt Watts, CTO EMEA at NetApp. “Through the adoption of a data-driven approach, 3Lateral has built a foundation, which solved the immediate challenges of inflexible data silos that have hindered innovative collaboration. The new infrastructure design can deal with the issues of increasing data collection speed and capacity. 3Lateral’s data fabric will adapt and evolve with them as they are looking to solve new and future challenges.”

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