Q&A Session With AMD and Troublemakers Behind Opteron and FirePro 'Machete' Hardware

Yesterday we reported that AMD's technology is the one of choice for Troublemaker Studios – the creative minds behind films such as Sin City, Predators, and opening today, Machete.

Specifically, the team at Troublemaker used hexacore Opteron CPU and FirePro V8800 GPUs to complete 500 final shots.

“With 'Machete,' Robert Rodriguez makes use of a variety of media formats and effects setups, which require a high level of post-processing,” said Charlie Boswell, director of Digital Media and Entertainment at AMD. “With six-core AMD Opteron processors and ATI FirePro V8800 graphics solutions, Robert and his Troublemaker Studios team have delivered a resulting look and vibe as distinct as the plot itself.”

“I've had the idea for 'Machete' since meeting Danny Trejo while filming 'Desperado' in 1993, and it's only now after years of refining that idea combined with the advancements in AMD technology that I've been able to bring my creative vision to life in the way I truly envisaged it,” said Robert Rodriguez, co-owner, Troublemaker Studios. “The incredible developments in AMD platform technology continue to fuel my creativity, driving me to push it to its limits. In fact, I've made plans to incorporate AMD's Fusion Render technology into the production of my next film 'Spy Kids 4'.”

We had the chance to talk a little with the technical team behind Machete for a quick Q&A session.

Q: It was with Sin City that we heard most about how Troublemaker Studios used computers to greatly lower production costs, despite it still being one of the more expensive movies from Rodriguez at that point. Was this sort of cost-efficiency a big factor of why AMD CPUs and GPUs were used on Machete?

A: AMD was the fastest technology at the time Sin City was realized.  In addition, the 64-bit factor was in play when Troublemaker chose AMD. 

AMD’s roadmap continues to be a factor in Troublemaker’s commitment  to AMD tech. The fact the workstations are AMD on AMD (ATI FirePro) is important because it helps ensure driver quality and platform stability without which raw speed is really of no consequence. Robert Rodriguez and his crew have zero tolerance for shaky tech. The next step is to leverage the GPU in the render farm and that is happening on Spy Kids IV.

Q: Could you tell us a little about the evolution and changes in hardware the studio has gone through over the years from Sin City, Grindhouse, Predators to Machete? Was it always AMD behind the scenes?

A: The migration has been from multi-processor to multi-core and now to 12-core in both workstations and servers. Not to overlook the fact the workstations now have ATI FirePro professional graphics. AMD has been the back bone at Troublemaker Studios since Spy Kids III.

Q: It seems that 3D is the big thing going on right now in Hollywood. Troublemaker has done 3D before with Spy Kids 3-D and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. What's the attitude of Troublemaker towards 3D movies now that the film industry seemingly wants a 3D option with every picture?

A: If Robert is into it, then Troublemaker Studios is ready to go full-on 3D. For 3D movies, Troublemaker’s pre-production pipeline is stereoscopic to ensure the shots  work in pre-vizualization, but the  production and post-production pipelines are 2D. It really depends on how Robert feels and the nature of the project. Clearly, 3D for Robert and Troublemaker is well understood.

Q: We know that you used six-core Opterons and FirePro V8800s, but could you give us more details about the hardware used and how many machines you had working at any given time?

A: Troublemaker uses 100% AMD Opteron and the majority of workstations feature ATI FirePro professional graphics. The render farm is 100% AMD and a mix of dual, quad, and 12-core.

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