Linkin Park virtual world rises from agile workstations

“In many ways, good hardware is about getting out of your way,” says creative chief behind new video production.

Credit: Ghost Town Media

Ghost Town Media Creative Director Brandon Parvini switched to Dell Precision workstations to produce an effects-heavy music video for Linkin Park. Credit: Ghost Town Media

The production house that completed Linkin Park’s new music video had the drive and creativity to execute the band’s artistic vision of Armageddon in a cyberpunk world — yet one challenge emerged at the outset.

Brandon Parvini, the 30-year-old creative director at Ghost Town Media in Los Angeles, knew his team’s Apple desktops wouldn’t be able to handle the intense 3D graphics fast enough to meet “crazy ambitious” project deadlines.

So, right before the start of video production in August for “A Light That Never Comes,” the band’s collaboration with DJ Steve Aoki, Ghost Town Media made a decision that some may consider brave, and others a little crazy — they switched operating systems, scrapping their Apple desktops for Dell Precision workstations.

For Parvini, however, the decision was a no-brainer. All three minutes and 49 seconds of the video is virtual, meaning not one frame is camera footage. The band members in the piece — they’re just ones and zeros as well, the product of digital body scans enhanced and modified through a series of special-effects programs. To pull it off, Parvini knew he needed the right computing tools, ones that would just work and seem almost invisible to him and his team.

“If you can’t navigate the files, you can’t be creative,” Parvini said in an interview with Tech Page One. “In many ways, good hardware is about getting out of your way.”

Testing limits

Finding hardware that seems almost transparent to the creative process is easy if you’re a poet. But for Parvini and other vanguards of the post-production world, reliable workstations need to function without fail almost around the clock while processing bleeding-edge graphics and massive files.

“I’ve melted machines here before,” Parvini admitted. “I am brutal on our hardware, but it’s all in the quest to make a cool-looking image.”

Or a cool-looking digital city, which is what Parvini and his team built — and then destroyed — for “A Light That Never Comes.” Parvini said the video follows a young woman who is unwittingly dropped into this dreamed-up world and then goes off exploring as old structures crumble and others implode.

Parvini created the action using two Dell Precision Workstations — the T5610 and T7610 models — fitted with NVIDIA Quadro K5000 graphics cards, which provide the processing for the 3D calculations and computer animation that bring his images to life. The combined package beats the best of what Apples offers, he said, and the switch was made easier by working closely with support teams from Dell and NVIDIA.

More time to create

Parvini said the bottom line to having machines that don’t crash and quickly render graphics is more time that can be spent on fine tuning and bringing the finished product closer to the artist’s vision. And because his Precision workstations support multiple Quadro GPUs, Parvini got even faster performance when using applications such as Adobe After Effects, which takes unique advantage of NVIDIA GPUs.

Another piece of Ghost Town Media’s computing package, a Dell Precision M6700 mobile workstation, also gave Parvini more time with the video by allowing him to work from home in the evenings. It’s that kind of mobility that also helped Parvini maintain a personal life — even amid crushing deadlines.

“It means I can see my wife, have dinner with her, then open my laptop and work again until 2 a.m.,” he said.

Also in Why Switch?

This series explores why demanding IT use cases have lead some to switch from Apple technology to Dell Precision workstations with NVIDIA graphics cards and Intel processing power.

  1. 1Linkin Park virtual world rises from agile workstations
  2. 2Workstations inspire Linkin Park to push limits
  3. 3Tips for the switch to high-end workstations

View the entire series.

Nick Clunn
Nick Clunn is a journalist covering the tech beat and an adjunct professor at Montclair State University. He lives in New Jersey, where he had worked as a staff writer for several leading daily newspapers and websites.
Nick Clunn
Nick Clunn
Tags: Business,Productivity
  • Killerfishmonkey

    well.. I would say they saved money…. but the Quatro K5000 costs are insane… then again. $500 for a tablet that cannot play CD/DVD or charge your phone. that is insane as well.

    • Mike Connor

      You want a table that plays CDs and DVDs? You still bring CDs and DVDs with you? Is it still 1999?

      • Steven Rivas

        I WANT VCR! And floppy disks.

    • Bleeding_Heart_Liberace

      nor properly word porcess

    • GOP Slogans

      They also lack audio cassette capabilities and have no SCSI ports.

  • disqus_W5sye4RwB7

    Seems like a no-brainer to me as well. Why would you pay so much for less power?

    • davy

      reasons

  • Ethan Olson

    This one job just paid for those new workstations.

  • djasp

    nice ad for DELL.. thought they were going private?

  • disqus_W5sye4RwB7

    lol

  • Mike Connor

    Looks like they won’t be lacking power starting next month. It’s also telling that in their industry merely switching to PC is something that “some may consider brave, and others a little crazy”.

  • ben aflek

    This is just a Dell Advertisement…

    • smoinc

      nah… Apple just sucks.

      • Steven Rivas

        Custom built PCs are the best.

  • ben aflek

    Apple uses nvidia and intel processors, lol

    • Steven Rivas

      but they mark it up more than jewelry.

  • Bill Willard

    Disgusting how this “story” comes as a link from Slate that is not labeled or identified as corporate PR.

    • local_student

      Yep.

  • JeanLuc LaBarre

    Hahaha. A has-been band gets paid by a has-been company to “switch” and it’s fobbed off as news. Too funny.
    Here’s some reality:-
    -On October 6, 1997, in response to the question of what he’d do if he was in charge of (then failing) Apple, Michael Dell stood before a crowd of several thousand IT executives and answered, “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
    (This ‘SIDAGTMBTTS’ quote is famous – we laugh about it regularly.)
    -On August 26, 2011, Apple hit a market value of $355.61 billion or more than 13 times that of Dell.
    After failing to beat Apple, Dull just caved and went private.

    • wefwefasdfa

      You are such a cutie. Quoting things from 1997 and thinking they are still relevant and using metrics like “market value” where you can literally pull numbers out of nowhere and make your point. Here’s the stats as of 11/1/2013:

      APPL Nasdaq is $517.77/share and Dell Nasdaq is $13.86/share. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. Stop trying to compare a company that spends time integrating and managing systems long term to a company who decides to upgrade its pretty rectangles twice a year and reap the benefits of other manufacturers meanwhile the iSheep will continue to buy their rectangles.

      Apple hasn’t matter to the real world, read: not in a fantasy world where everyone has time and patience to deal with apple id accounts, strange firmware/hardware/software and a general “don’t give two shits” attitude towards the people trying to support their own products.

      Think whatever you want. All I’m trying to do is spread the word that they just don’t matter anymore and haven’t mattered since the Woz used to work there.

  • gregholston

    Dude, they got a Dell.

  • Chris Baker

    Unfortunately, Dells run Windows. I prefer the Mac OS (I use Windows all day at work). That’s why people choose Macs. Sure there are faster computers, but most people are not creating and rendering 3D worlds. Most people are checking their email, surfing the web, or watching cat videos. Steve Jobs’ own company, Pixar, didn’t use Macs, it uses/used Linux systems. There are many tools that work equally well.

  • capt3292

    I’ve used both Apple and PC products. I do not purchase PCs from Dell, HP or any other manufacturer, I build all of my PCs. The reason is I control the quality by custom selecting and incorporating quality components. The Apple products I’ve used usually had many component failures especially in power supplies. In addition Apple configurations lock hardware and OS thus preventing upgrades. Case in point a G3 could not be upgraded to a G4 with the Apple recommendation of discarding the overpriced G3 and purchase the overpriced G4. Apple did not innovate but pirated concepts from other developers (ie. graphical I/O from Xerox). They had to go to Intel for their processors because Motorola could not compete technically with Intel in speed and computing power with their cpus.

    Apple feeds on obsolescence and relies on the technically challenged and immature customer base to maintain their sale of products. That is the direction Steve Jobs took when he re-assumed control of Apple. He went after this customer base by creating ‘toys” for this technically challenged immature base. Jobs was marketing, Wozniak was the initial creator of the Apple. They are a hardware oriented company. By inflating the price of their products they create the illusion of quality. When you can sell a product at 400 to 500 percent profit that is designed to be obsolete in months, you can easily demand a $300+/share for your stock.

    Also for those that claim Apple products are not susceptible to hackers, the reason is that PCs are 80% of the world market. So the hackers go after the bigger target, but that also is changing.

  • wefwefasdfa

    Yes thats true but usually only in small scale IE building 1 computer for 1 person. Things get trickier when you are talking about HUNDREDS or even TENS OF THOUSANDS of users on specific hardware. You see way more problems with computers at this scale.

  • Will

    Finally people are starting to see past the manufactured hype and personality cult of Apple. Apple computers are for people with lots of money and no technical knowledge.

  • MarcoL

    It’s shocking that Slate would link to a paid advertisement like this without identifying it as such. Slate, is your credibility really that cheap? You almost have to squint to see the Insights From Dell logo at the top. And what’s with Dell? Are they really so insecure about their product that they have to resort to trying to trick people like this?

    • Do Whatchyalike

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers STILL blow and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way. FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.)

    • Do Whatchyalike

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers STILL blow and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way. FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.)

    • Do Whatchyalike

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers STILL 5uck and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way.

      FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.

    • Do Whatchyalike

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers are (still) inferior computers and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way.

      FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.

    • Guest

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers are (still) inferior computers and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way.

      FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.

    • 108long

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers are (still) inferior computers and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way.

      FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.

    • 108long

      At MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers are (still) inferior computers and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

      Notice that “machines that don’t crash” was one of Ghost Town Media’s requirements. Ha… I will say it yet again: Every single time, without fail, that I have attempted to operate a Mac, it has crashed on me. For well over a decade, Apple “followers” have talked and talked about how Macs don’t crash. lol People believe what they are told and want to believe. Beliefs are, more often than not, about what feels good; facts and truth simply get in the way.

      FACT & TRUTH is what Steve Wozniak himself, one of Apple’s founders, had to say about Macs: “Macs are for people who are afraid of computers.” END OF STORY.

    • 108long

      @MarcoL: You’re barking up the wrong tree here. Dell didn’t “pay for the advertisement”, they provided equipment and logistical support for a commercial project and received acknowledgement for doing so. It’s called “doing business”. In the music/entertainment world, it’s called “artist endorsement”.

      As for “what’s wrong with Dell”, your question should be directed at Apple. Why is it that artists who need raw computing power and performance are forced to move away from Apple’s products to get the job done?

      Oh… wait… Maybe it’s because Apple computers are (still) inferior computers and PCs are real machines built to DO, rather than to just to look at, feel, and say “Oh, what a pretty, sleek looking little package.”

  • GOP Slogans

    Linkin Park and Dell are perfect partners. Both Dinosaurs well out of touch with what the public is consuming.

  • Lance Prior

    Why is it that music and video business seem to favor Apple computers?

  • S.Evans

    What was the unpaid value of the consulting you get from Dell and Nvidia, ANY computer will work if you have the manufacturer on hand customizing the hardware for you.