RoHS CompliantAll Small Tree cards, switches and storage products are RoHS compliant!

  1. Small Tree Provides End-to-End Workflow Solution for Advertising Agency

    August 20, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    TitaniumZ Solution Streamlines Digital Media Workflow

    SnitilyCarr- FinishSuite-8.15.14_035

    Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 20, 2014 Snitily Carr, a full-service advertising agency with roots in video production, needed to expand its capability to meet the growing needs of the agency’s clients. New tactics and technology provided more opportunities to serve clients, and the company now needed a digital media workflow strategy to match.

    To meet those challenges, the medium-sized agency called upon Small Tree to provide an end-to-end shared storage and networking environment that also included media asset management through axle Video, and LTO tape-based archival through Cache-A.

    “This is our first Small Tree box,” said Rhett McClure, Video Producer for Snitily Carr. “It’s great bang for the buck. So much so, that for the amount of storage we needed and the money we saved working with Small Tree, we were able to include media asset management as well as archival tape backup in the budget. The cost of the turnkey system from Small Tree was what others were quoting us for storage alone.”

    Snitily Carr provides traditional and digital marketing and production services for customers in a variety of vertical markets including healthcare, agriculture, financial services and retail.

    “Small Tree has been very easy to work with,” said McClure. “We’ve been plotting this whole transition for about 18 months and considered 10 or 12 different options over that time, as we tweaked what parts would fit where, and just how much storage and networking infrastructure made sense.”

    The agency now has a combination of both 10GbE and GbE workstations running Adobe Creative Suite accessing the TitaniumZ-8 storage server, including both iMacs via Thunderbolt to 10GbE, and a DaVinci Resolve color grading suite via 10GbE and PCIe.

    Media asset management and transcoding duties are handled by axle Video’s Gear appliance, which offers a radically simple media management solution at low cost.  Gear combines two rack mounted Mac minis in a tightly-coupled configuration with axle and Telestream software to create an optimized media management and transcode appliance in 1U of rack space.  The axle Gear system gives wider access to the contents of the TitaniumZ from laptops and iPads anywhere in the Snitily Carr organization, by creating searchable low-res proxies of all media files on the storage.  Axle Gear also provides a searchable browser interface with custom metadata, timeline-based selects and review and approval workflows.

    Completing the “ingest to export” workflow solution, Small Tree partnered with Serial Scene, a Chicago-based Cache-A authorized systems integrator, to handle the archival portion using a Pro-Cache6 LTO tape drive appliance.

    With the TitaniumZ’s  ability to support a variety of content creation software, its flexible mix of both GbE and 10GbE configuration options as well as future-proofed expansion possibilities,  TitaniumZ is designed and tested to handle real-world content creation tasks not just today, but into the future as well.

    “It’s really about serving our clients in a better way. Small Tree has made our creation process a lot easier,” said McClure, and “We can throw pretty much anything at it and it doesn’t complain.”

    For more information about Small Tree and its growing line of shared storage and networking products, visit www.small-tree.com. Follow Small Tree on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SmallTreeComm or on Twitter @SmallTreeComm.


  2. Data choke points and a cautionary tale

    August 14, 2014 by Steve Modica

    During a normal week, I help a lot of customers with performance issues. Some of the most common complaints I hear include:

    “I bought a new 10Gb card so I could connect my Macs together, but when I drag files over, it doesn’t go any faster.”

    “I upgraded the memory in my system because Final Cut was running slow, but it didn’t seem to help very much.”

    “I bought a faster Mac so it would run my NLE more smoothly, but it actually seems worse than before.”

    All of these things have something in common.  Money was spent on performance, the users didn’t have a satisfying experience, and they would be much happier had the money been spent in the right place.

    Of course, the first one is easy.  Putting a 10Gb connection between two Macs and dragging files between them isn’t going to go any faster than the slowest disk involved. If one of those Macs is using an old SATA spinning disk, 40-60MB/sec would be a pretty normal transfer rate.  A far cry from the 1000MB/sec you might expect from 10Gb Ethernet!  Who wouldn’t be disappointed?

    Similarly, the second case where a user upgrades memory based on an anecdotal suggestion of a friend is all too common.  On the one hand, memory upgrades are typically a great way to go, especially when you run a lot of things simultaneously. More memory almost always means better performance.  However, this is assuming that you didn’t have some other serious problem that was overwhelming your lack of memory.

    In the case of Final Cut 7, which is a 32 bit application, more memory isn’t going to help Final Cut directly.  In fact, it’s much more likely that Final Cut would run better with a faster disk and perhaps a faster CPU.  Since FCP 7 didn’t use GPU offload, even moving to a better graphics card might not have delivered a huge gain.

    The last one, where buying a faster Mac actually made things worse, is a classic case of mismatched performance tuning.  For this customer, the faster Mac also had a lot more memory.  It turns out that Mac OS X will dynamically increase the amount of data it will move across the network in a burst (the TCP Receive Window).  This resulted in the network overrunning Final Cut, causing it to stutter.  The solution?  Dial back the receive window to make sure FCP 7 can keep up.  This will be corrected by some other changes in the stack that are coming soon.  One day, slower applications will be able to push back on the sender a little more directly and a little more effectively than today.

    These cases bring to mind a discussion I had with a 40Gb Ethernet vendor back at NAB in April. They wanted me to use their cards and perhaps their switches. The obvious question:  Don’t your users want the speed of 40Gb Ethernet? Wouldn’t they want to run this right to their desktops?!

    Of course they would.  Everyone wants to go fast.  The problem is that those 40Gb ports are being fed by storage. If you look closely at what raid controllers and spinning disks can do, the best you can hope for from 16 drives and a raid card is around 1GB/sec.  A 40Gb cards moves about 4GB/sec. So if I sold my customers 40Gb straight to their desktops, I would need somewhere around 64 spinning disks just to max out ONE 40Gb port.  It could be done, but not economically. It would be more like a science project.

    Even worse, on Macs today, those 40Gb ports would have to connect with Thunderbolt 2, which tops out around 2.5GB/sec and is yet another choke point that would lead to disappointed customers and wasted money.

    I think 40Gb Ethernet has a place. In fact, we’re working on drivers today. However, that place will depend on much larger SSDs that can provide 1GB/sec per device.  Once we’re moving 8 and 16GB/sec either via a RAID card or ZFS logical volumes, then it will make sense to put 40Gb everywhere.  The added advantage is that waiting to deploy 40Gb will only lead to better and more stable 40Gb equipment. Anyone remember the old days of 10Gb back in 2003 when cards were expensive, super hot, and required single mode fiber?


  3. Leading Advertising Company Decreases Rendering Time from Hours to Minutes with Small Tree’s ThunderNET2

    June 17, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    10GbE Solution Allows Company to Scrub Across 4k with No Network Bottlenecks

    SpotCo

    POST April 2014    |    POST June 2014

    New York City, June 17, 2014 — As a worldwide leader in entertainment and arts advertising, SpotCo faces tight deadlines that are often measured in seconds, not minutes. To ensure that file read times during post-production meet their demanding requirements, SpotCo recently installed the ThunderNET2 networking solution by Small Tree and the system’s performance has been much appreciated by its editing team.

    “The SpotCo video department is extremely happy with the ThunderNET2 and the 4 port Ethernet 10 gigabit (10GbE) card from Small Tree in our video server,” said Andy Bond, Video Editor with SpotCo, best known for their work with Broadway hits like Chicago, Kinky Boots and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. “We’re doing things like scrubbing across near 4k videos in After Effects and Premier with absolutely no network bottlenecks. No delays, hiccups, nothing. This has taken rendering from over an hour on 1GbE to a few minutes using 10GbE. And, opening a complicated 13Gb file from 20 minutes to less than a minute!  We couldn’t be happier thanks to Small Tree!”

    Created to support post-production pros’ increased processing power available with newly available products, including the Mac Pro 2013 machines at SpotCo, ThunderNET2 opens up a whole world of possibilities. Combining high performance I/O capabilities of Thunderbolt™ 2 with the flexibility of PCIe and Small Tree’s industry-leading 10GbE driver, Small Tree’s ThunderNET2 provides creative media professionals a cost effective solution to integrate Thunderbolt equipped platforms into high performance storage and data networks.

    “Prior to installing ThunderNET2, SpotCo’s editors were working off a 10GbE switch, but were limited to 1GbE at the workstation and there was no way to get the info to the computers from the server quickly enough,” said Todd Miller, IT Manager with SpotCo. “Then the ThunderNET2 and 4 port 10GbE card from Small Tree came in and everything changed. That’s huge for anyone in the ad business, where completed projects have to be delivered by a certain deadline, otherwise, you could miss out on thousands of dollars.”

    ThunderNET2 boasts the widest range of 1 or 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to Thunderbolt equipped systems from Apple and HP, providing higher levels of network performance and connecting seamlessly to Small Tree’s Ethernet shared storage appliance, TitaniumZ, or 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches. ThunderNET2 can also provide additional Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to the user’s current network.

    Adding network bandwidth to any computer with a Thunderbolt™ 2 port, Small Tree’s ThunderNET2 can be configured to support specific requirements, allowing customers to select the proper amount of bandwidth to meet both workflow demands and budgets.

    “In this business, there’s really no one else to consider other than Small Tree for solutions like this,” Miller stated. “They’re number one when it comes to writing software drivers for Mac users, which is really important. They know the ins and outs of 10GbE, and that knowledge can make a big difference in a smaller shop.”

    For more information on ThunderNET2, or any of Small Tree’s cost-effective shared storage and networking solutions, visit www.Small-Tree.com. Follow Small Tree on LinkedIn, www.facebook.com/SmallTreeComm or @smalltreecomm.


  4. HOW TO ENSURE COMMERCIAL “DREAM” PROJECT DIDN’T TURN INTO A NIGHTMARE

    June 16, 2014 by Steve Modica

    collage

    For Olympic athletes, the dream doesn’t begin when they compete at the Olympics; the dream truly begins years before when first thinking about competing and then training to make the Olympics. That was the concept behind, “The Dream Begins Here,” a recent commercial project for Bed Gear created by Emmy-award winning video production company Artsis Media.

    Featuring Lindsay Van, an American ski jumper, the commercial is a creative and entertaining approach to the type of commitment it takes to be an Olympic athlete – playing up the long hours Van spent on the mountain during training. So many hours, in fact, that it’s as if she never goes home, sleeping on the mountain and dreaming about competing in the Olympics…all while resting on a bed covered with luxuriously comfortable sheets and pillowcases furnished by Bed Gear.

    For Michael Artsis, founder and president of Artsis Media, this “dream” shoot was an amazing opportunity to develop an iconic TV commercial in perfect alignment with the client’s brand. As is often the case with such projects, numerous challenges needed to be overcome to meet the client’s expectations, including having to rent a mountain in Utah, capturing everything in one day – featuring eight hours at night on the mountain – and then completing post-production against a tight deadline.

    SMALL TREE’S TITANIUMZ-8 SHARED STORAGE SYSTEM GIVES ARTISIS MEDIA PEACE OF MIND ON POST-PRODUCTION

    Having to rent a mountain and with Van scheduled to leave for the Sochi Olympics, Artsis would only have one shot at capturing the footage he needed. So the ability to eliminate any variables on this mission critical project would enable Artsis to focus solely on the task at hand.

    “We chose Small Tree’s shared storage system because we knew it was the one thing we wouldn’t have to worry about,” Artsis said. “If we could pull off the shoot and get all of the acquisition done, we knew we didn’t have to worry about getting the footage back and storing it safely through the editing process. Any time you can cut down on your variables, your question marks, your possible flaws in your system or your workflow, that’s the best thing you can do and what we were able to do with Small Tree.”

    For this project, Artsis decided to shoot in raw format, using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

    Shooting in raw format made it a lot more robust, yet larger and harder to deal with. It also created a lot more requirements for post.

    “The great thing was that we didn’t have to be concerned about how fast the shared storage system was going to work, or how fast the edit or rendering process would be, even with raw format,” Artsis remarked. “A 30 second commercial is only a 30 second commercial, but there’s so much that goes into it. And with raw format there’s a much more expansive workflow – the footage takes up so much more storage and has much higher performance requirements for editing, but we didn’t have any of those problems because we had Small Tree’s TitaniumZ.”

    After production was complete, Artsis learned that the deadline for post-production, which included cutting four versions of the commercial and eight web videos, had been moved up. To meet the shortened deadline, the studio had all eight of its workstations – five Mac desktops, one Windows PC and two MacBook Pro laptops – connected to the TitaniumZ-8 system and running simultaneously.

    “We were at our max capacity,” Artsis admitted. “We had one workstation where we captured the footage on to the TitaniumZ storage and we just made sure that everything being captured was perfect; that there weren’t dropped frames or missed footage. To be safe, we did two captures; not only capturing the footage from the cards but from the backup hard drives as well to make sure we had everything. We also shot a backup, recorded to a memory card and also recorded to an Atomos Ninja. We had someone capturing and combing through the footage, finding the best material and marking it up. Then we would sift through the footage, bring it into Da Vinci on the Windows PC and start the round-tripping process.”

    With the short turnaround time, a lot of pieces were moving all at once at Artsis Media. Once the footage was brought into Da Vinci Resolve, a member of the post-production team put a LUT on it because it wasn’t color-corrected yet and needed to be shown to the client – adding the LUT provides a color profile that is easy to turn on and off and, most importantly, is non-destructive so it can be sent to Adobe Premiere to show the client what the project looks like. The LUT was also useful when composing original music for the commercial, as developing music is often based on feelings established through visuals. Without color correction and color grading completed, the LUT simulated the commercial’s final “look.”

    “While this was taking place,” Artsis revealed, other team members started video-editing (for the TV commercial) and developing still images from the raw format video footage (for a print campaign) on the Macs. At our busiest point, we had eight people working from different workstations– all of which were connected to Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-8 to make sure our workflow wasn’t compromised. The amazing thing was that before this project started we had just acquired the Windows PC, so this was the first time we would be using the Windows PC with the TitaniumZ solution. Small Tree helped us set it up remotely and it worked flawlessly. In fact, the Windows PC was probably our most robust machine. It worked great during color correcting and was more capable of handling high resolution footage because it was newer than our other machines.”

    When looking back at the project, how quickly it came together, the pressure involved with having to make certain that all of the footage was obtained during a one day shoot without any safety net, and the short timeframe to turn it all around to get to the client for approval, there’s only one thing Artsis would do differently. “I would have used Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-5 portable shared storage system on-site during the shoot,” Artsis admits. “With that solution on location I would have been able to worry even less, as I would have shot right into the shared storage system, if not just running the cards right off into it.”

    In the end, while there were some concerns along the way about this project, having the TitaniumZ-8 in the studio for post-production provided substantial peace of mind.

    “If we didn’t have the TitaniumZ, I would have been thinking about our render times and whether we might burn out hard drives by running them as hard and as long as we were,” Artsis concluded. “But because of Small Tree and my confidence in their system’s capabilities, I was confident we’d get the job done.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj-GhVows1M

     

     


  5. Wheaton Bible Church a Believer in Small Tree Shared Storage

    June 5, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Performance and Simplicity of Use Ideal for Growing House of Worship

    Wheaton Bible Church_Workstation Wide

    Chicago, June 5, 2014 — Often facing deadline lead times that are hours long, not days, Wheaton Bible Church’s video-editing team recently shifted from portable USB drives to GraniteSTOR Titanium8, an Ethernet-based shared storage solution from Small Tree.

    Located in the suburbs of Chicago, Wheaton features a congregation of nearly 4,000 members spread across several different ministries. To maximize engagement with its congregation, Wheaton develops its own content, capturing video with a DLSR camera and editing across Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Pro. With an abundance of raw footage to edit and working against extreme deadlines, Wheaton needed an alternative to swapping files via USB hard drives across its workstations.

    Shelton Thompson, Technical Director at Wheaton reached out to Serial Scene, a Chicago based Small Tree partner, to provide consultation, system design and installation for the new Titanium8 shared storage system.

    “Our operation is far more efficient since installing the Titanium,” Thompson said. “We’re not waiting on files to load in and out to keep our workflow moving. Most of our projects are last minute and we have to turn them around quickly to be ready for viewing, whether it’s for one of our services or our website.”

    Featuring eight workstations consisting of iMacs, Macbook Pros, Mac Pros and a PC connected to the Titanium8, Wheaton’s editing team has been impressed by the Small Tree system’s simplicity and robust performance.

    “We have so many people that can be jumping in and working on a video project – including a lot of volunteers – so it was important to have a solid solution that everyone could use,” Thompson stated. “On the performance side, we have a lot of raw footage, so Small Tree’s shared storage has been great for centralizing everything, bringing that cataloging feature we needed to find files quickly and access simultaneously.”

    Titanium8 is a 2U rack-mount solution providing scalable and highly configurable options to meet the needs of editing groups of all sizes. Titanium supports popular editing software such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Creative Suite, while enabling Windows, Linux, Macintosh and Unix clients to share media files. The shared storage appliance supports multiple file Protocols, including AFP, Samba, NFS and iSCSI.

    Titanium8 is built on a customized open source operating system that was designed to be easy-to-use,  feature rich and reliable, while providing exceptional performance. Storage can be made available to users within minutes of initial startup and the powerful and convenient Web-based GUI makes management of the system straightforward and simple. Titanium8 supports file and volume replication as well as tape
    backup.  By using a Web-based browser, Titanium8 can be managed from anywhere with an Internet connection, providing optimal convenience to post-production professionals facing tight deadlines.

    For more information about Small Tree and its growing line of shared storage and networking products, visit www.small-tree.com. Follow Small Tree on LinkedIn, www.facebook.com/SmallTreeComm or @SmallTreeComm.


  6. Leading Experimental Production Company Pushing Composites up to 20K with Small Tree Shared Storage System

    May 19, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    TitaniumZ-16 and ThunderNET Solutions Making a Huge Difference for Editing Team

    STPressPhotoOpt3_PPTeam

    STPressPhotoOpt1 STPressPhotoOpt2

     New York City, May 20, 2014 — Dedicated to standing out in the world of experimental art by virtue of its technical and artistic rigor, 3-Legged Dog has carved out its place as a leading creator of experimental multimedia productions. Located in New York City, 3-Legged Dog recently installed a TitaniumZ-16 shared storage system and ThunderNET solution from Small Tree to accommodate the substantial amount of content the company’s editing team must work with on each project.

    “We’re pushing an insane amount of data – like composites up to 20K,” said Cameron Vokey, line producer at 3-Legged Dog. “With seven compositors working in composites between 4 and 20k, we needed a solution that would open up 10 gigabit Ethernet for us and that’s what the TitaniumZ-16 in tandem with ThunderNET did. It’s pretty impressive.”

    A 501(c)(3) company, 3-Legged Dog handles projects for a wide variety of notable clients, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Express to Michael Kors and Lady Gaga.

    3LD shoots primarily with RED Scarlet and RED Epic Dragon cameras.  Leveraging Adobe After Effect’s outstanding capability to process native R3D files, playing directly off the TitaniumZ16, 3LD is able to greatly compress the time and simplify the editing process by eliminating the need for intermediate codecs. According to Vokey, the main composite size is over 35 million pixels per frame.

    The company’s editing setup currently includes nine Mac-based workstations (and six render nodes) running Adobe Creative Suite connected to a 48TB shared storage server designed by Small Tree to provide high performance sharing. TitaniumZ includes simplified setup and management, RAID protection for multimedia editing and Small Tree’s industry-leading tech support.

    “The system came in, I got on the phone with Small Tree and configured it quickly,” Vokey stated. “It’s incredibly easy to learn. On top of that, Small Tree’s customer service has been like the server itself…extremely reliable.”

    TitaniumZ systems offer optimal flexibility with the capability to work across multiple protocols (AFP, SMB, NFS and iSCSI) and platforms, including Adobe Creative Suite, Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro

    Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Apple Final Cut Pro X, and Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve. Available
    in a variety of flexible and scalable configurations, TitaniumZ can meet the demands of today’s 4K workflows whether they’re using Red, Arri or Phantom.

    “It sounds crazy, but we shoot a number of performances in 3D,” Vokey remarked. “We want to be able to edit that footage onsite with our own equipment and the TitaniumZ and ThunderNET systems will enable us to do so. The project we’re currently working on is so large that it almost entirely consumed the 48TBs and we had to stay vigilant in deleting files towards the end. But we know where to go when we need to get cranking on the next one.”

    For more information about Small Tree and its growing line of shared storage and networking products, visit www.small-tree.com. Follow Small Tree on LinkedIn, www.facebook.com/SmallTreeComm or @SmallTreeComm.


  7. Snapshots…your trashcan, on steroids

    by Steve Modica

    I have to admit, as an old time UNIX guy that’s been around inodes, fsck and corrupted filesystems all my life, snapshots sounded a little too good to be true.

    The word was long known to me.  Customers would say, “I took a snapshot of that disk so I could upgrade it and revert if I screwed something up.”  It’s just that imaging a disk would take hours.  You’d start the copy and go home for the night.

    These new snapshots (like those supported by ZFS) were instantaneous.  One click and you would “instantly” have a new copy of your data.  How?  That’s not even possible.  To make it even weirder, the new copy takes up no space!?  Now it’s starting to sound like perpetual motion.

    The actual explanation is a lot simpler. Every filesystem is composed of data (your file data) and metadata (the name of the file, permissions, location of blocks, inode number, etc.).  All this metadata is what organizes your data.  You have what’s called an “inode table” where all that stuff lives, and it “points to” the actual data you wrote.  It might be video data, or your mom’s apple pie recipe.

    When you create a snapshot, you are instantly making a copy of that inode table.  You now have two. All these inodes point to the same data.  So the data was not copied.

    Now the magic happens. When a user deletes a file from the original data, the inode for that file is removed, but the snapshot inode remains.  ZFS will keep the data around as long as there’s an inode in some snapshot somewhere pointing to it.  The same is true if you edit a file.  The old data is saved, but the new data gets written.

    All this old stuff (old data) essentially becomes part of the snapshot.  As more things change, the snapshot grows larger. If you were to delete “all” the data on the original filesystem, the snapshot would essentially grow to the size of the original filesystem. (The original filesystem would drop to 0.)

    In some ways, it’s a little like a trashcan. When you delete something, it doesn’t really go away. It goes into the trash. If you wanted to, you could drag it out of the trash.

    There’s a similar way of recovering snapshots.  You simply “clone” (or mount) them.  When you do this, the snapshot inode table is mounted and it still points to all the old data.  That file you deleted yesterday?  If you mount yesterday’s snapshot, it’s right back where it was.  Simply drag it back out.

    Obviously, while snapshots make for a great method of saving previous images of a set of data, they are not a backup solution.  If your RAID dies and can’t be recovered, your snapshots die too!  So for true backup protection, consider rsync or some other method of moving your data to another system.

    Small Tree’s TitaniumZ servers support snapshots and rsync and we have a very nice graphical interface so you can manage it all yourself. If you have any questions about snapshots or a backup solution that’s right for your editing team, don’t hesitate to contact me at smodica@small-tree.com.

     


  8. Graveyard Carz Post Production Workflow Case Study

    April 16, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    THE DIVISION NEEDED A WAY FOR SEVERAL EDITORS TO ACCESS THE SAME MEDIA AT THE SAME TIME.

    Small_Tree_Case_Study_1C

    With over 26 episodes to be completed in the coming months, The Division, the team behind Velocity by Discovery’s Graveyard Carz, needed to accelerate their post production workflow.

    The growing company was three seasons into the production of their hit show, Graveyard Carz.  They had scraped by on consumer-grade storage for the past five years, and The Division was long overdue for a storage solution that made sense.

    The post production workstations consists of four Windows PCs and an iMac running Premiere Pro, a Windows PC running DaVinci Resolve, and a Mac Pro using Adobe Audition.

    Online Editor and Executive Producer Aaron Smith was eager to find a way to help post production at the Division run as a well-oiled machine.  “We needed a way to share all of our media between several editors, our audio mixer, and the colorist.  Every time we had to copy or transcode files it added a couple minutes to a task, and those minutes quickly add up to hours and days.  We aren’t a big shop, so we needed something easy to set up, and simple to use.”

    SMALL TREE COMMUNICATIONS DESIGNED THE PERFECT SOLUTION USING THE TITANIUMZ-16 SHARED STORAGE

    The Division has a mixture of Macs and Windows operating systems.  All of the workstations can now share the same media at the same time, eliminating the need for file transfers between computers.  The speed of the TitaniumZ made it possible to move terabytes of assets onto the storage system in the morning and share them in an afternoon.  “Within a day, we were completely set up and accessing media on the TitaniumZ.  Editors were picking up media and editing segments in no time.”

    When a segment is shot, the media from the camera cards are copied to the appropriate folder on the TitaniumZ.  Each segment can be any mixture of media shot on Canon 60D, 7D, 5D MkII, GoPro, and even Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras.  “At the moment we’re just working in HD, but 4K is definitely a possibility for the future, and it’s nice to know the Titanium Z can handle those kinds of data rates through 10 gigabit Ethernet.” The media is then organized, renamed, and assigned a specific serial number which is used to identify media and log metadata later using Trello, a web-based project management application. The serial number is prepended to all of the media for that segment.

    Once the media is on the TitaniumZ and renamed with serial numbers, the media is ready for any of the segment editors to throw into Adobe Premiere.  All of the segments are edited in the native camera formats at full resolution directly off the TitaniumZ. The main content, QuickTime H.264 footage shot on Canon DSLR cameras, is shot in the Technicolor Cinestyle color setting at 45mbps, while the GoPro footage is shot using the ProTune color settings at 35mbps. Post production supervisor Casey Faris explains, “We don’t make proxies anymore because there’s no need to do so. The TitaniumZ is beyond capable of handling the data rates we throw at it.  Even with several editors working, editing multiple streams of HD video is a breeze.  We have yet to see any slowdown or hiccup in performance.  Our editors were actually surprised at how fast the TitaniumZ is.  It’s like working from a local drive, but faster.”

    “With the Small Tree solution we have a mix of gigabit and 10 gigabit Ethernet connections hooked straight into the TitaniumZ. No need for external switches or servers running complex software. We have the color grading and online seats hooked up via 10 gigabit Ethernet, which provides plenty of room when handling finishing codecs like ProRes 4444 and Cineform, while the other editors have more than enough bandwidth cutting native camera codecs.” Says Smith.

    Once segments are edited, the program editor assembles them into the program sequences.  The Premiere projects are all imported into one project to be laid out into a watchable show.  Because all of the workstations access the same media, the Premiere project will open on any computer connected to the TitaniumZ. “It’s a huge time saver,” notes Faris. “Shared storage allows us to open a Premiere project on any computer without transferring media.  Those transfer times can really nickel and dime your day away. With the TitaniumZ, we can work faster, and more efficiently, cutting our time in half per episode compared to before.”

    After the program is locked, it’s sent to Audition for audio mix.  On the audio station, the project can be opened referencing the original sound files.  After the mix, the audio is exported as several different “stems” or parts of the mix, which, include dialogue, sound effects, and music tracks.  The .WAV files can be bounced right to the TitaniumZ, where they can be picked up by the online editor to add to the final Premiere project.

    Color correction is done on a high-end Windows PC running Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve.  The program is rendered in sections as ProRes 422 or Cineform QuickTime files with EDLs out of Premiere.  The colorist can then open the renders in Resolve right from the TitaniumZ.  After color is finished, the sections are rendered back onto the TitaniumZ as Cineform QuickTime movies, which can be added into Premiere.

    Once all the final media has been added to the program, graphics and supers are added, and the episode is rendered to 1920×1080 190mbps Cineform QuickTime movies for FTP upload.  All of the original footage is stored on the TitaniumZ for the rest of the season and is then copied to external hard drives for archival.

    “Working with Small Tree has been wonderful.  The biggest thing we appreciate about a company is always their customer support.  With Small Tree, we can call them up and talk to a real person who can walk us through anything we need.   They’ll even remotely troubleshoot any of our systems using screen sharing.  That kind of support is really rare these days,” notes Smith.

    “After just a few days, we were all working off the TitaniumZ with our existing systems and had forgotten the files weren’t on the stations we were using.  It’s a solution that just feels natural.  You forget it’s there.  When you don’t have to worry about the technical side of things, you can focus on the creativity and the storytelling.”

    “After experiencing shared storage with Small Tree, we’re never looking back.”


  9. Small Tree Unveils its Own Storage Operating System and Project Sharing Interface at NAB 2014 to Strengthen Company’s Shared Storage Solutions

    March 28, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    ZenOS and Project Wrangler Deliver Super Fast Access to Video Editors

    3U_TitaniumZ with ZenOS

    Oakdale, Minn., March 27, 2014 — At this year’s NAB, Small Tree (Booth SL11105) will unveil  its own storage operating system and new Interface to strengthen their already robust TitaniumZ all-in-one, real-time, Ethernet-based shared storage systems.

    Based on FreeBSD 10, Small Tree’s ZenOS operating system provides video editing teams using TitaniumZ with even better performance by capitalizing on Samba 4 and Native Avid Media sharing high speed multipath iSCSI support for super fast access from individual clients. Small Tree’s newly developed Graphical User Interface, Project Wrangler, is an iSCSI sharing tool that allows users to create, mount and share iSCSI projects quickly and easily, while also enabling Active Directory and Open Directory support for seamless integration, as well as NFS support for Avid and Final Cut X project and library sharing.

    “Talk to video editors and you learn quickly that what they want most of all are intuitive tools that eliminate waiting around for access to files and minimizing rendering times,” said Steve Modica, Small Tree’s Chief Technology Officer. “We developed ZenOS and Project Wrangler to ensure our TitaniumZ shared storage systems provide optimal performance and efficiency unmatched throughout the industry.”

    Small Tree’s TitaniumZ is capable of supporting up to 24 video editing workstations without needing an Ethernet switch, and was designed and tested to provide maximum performance for real-time video editing workflows.

    Offered in three scalable models – TitaniumZ-5, TitaniumZ-8 and TitaniumZ-16 – Small Tree’s popular shared storage product can be configured with up to 20 10GbE ports or 24 GbE ports with storage capacities (raw) from 10TB to 1PB (Petabyte). TitaniumZ can be upgraded on-site through advanced ZFS technology, which enables servers to seamlessly integrate newly added storage while keeping existing files intact.

    Providing high performance sharing, quickly and directly from the RAID, TitaniumZ systems include simplified setup and management, RAID protection for multimedia editing and Small Tree’s industry-leading tech support. Creative teams will feel the difference in increased performance and productivity immediately with any of Small Tree’s all-in-one systems featuring ZenOS and Project Wrangler.

    TitaniumZ was designed to be simple to setup and manage. The storage can be made available to users within minutes of initial startup, while the powerful and convenient browser-based Project Wrangler interface makes management of TitaniumZ straightforward. Using Project Wrangler, TitaniumZ can be managed from anywhere with an Internet connection.

    All three TitaniumZ systems offer optimal flexibility with the capability to work across multiple protocols (AFP, SMB, NFS and iSCSI) and platforms, including Adobe Creative Suite, Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Apple Final Cut Pro X, and Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve. Available in a variety of drive configurations, from 5 to 144 disks, with multiple network scalability options, Small Tree’s newest line of shared storage solutions can meet the demands of today’s 4K workflows whether they’re using Red, Arri or Phantom.

    For more information on TitaniumZ featuring ZenOS and Project Wrangler, visit Small Tree at NAB (SL11105) or www.Small-Tree.com. Follow Small Tree LinkedIn, www.facebook.com/SmallTreeComm or @smalltreecomm.


  10. Thunderbolt Updates

    March 20, 2014 by Steve Modica

    We’ve been working pretty hard on Thunderbolt products over the last few weeks and I thought I’d write up some of the interesting things we’ve implemented.

    I’m sure most of you are aware that Thunderbolt is an external, hotplug/unplug version of PCIE.  Thunderbolt 1 provided a 4X PCIE bus along with an equivalent bus for graphics only. Thunderbolt 2 allows you to trunk those two busses for 8X PCIE performance.

    PCIE Pause

    This is a new feature of Thunderbolt designed to deal with the uncertainty of what a user may plug in.

    Normally, when a system boots up, all of the PCIE cards are in place. The system sorts out address space for each card and each driver is then able to map its hardware and initialize everything.

    In the Thunderbolt world, we can never be sure what’s going to be there.  At any time, a user could plug in not just one device, but maybe five!  They could all be sitting on their desk, daisy-chained, simply waiting for a single cable to install.

    When this happens, the operating system needs the capability to reassign some of the address space and lanes so other devices can initialize and begin working.

    This is where PCIE Pause comes into play.  PCIE Pause allows the system to put Thunderbolt devices into a pseudo sleep mode (no driver activity) while bus address space is reassigned. Then devices are re-awakened and can restart operations.  What’s important to note is that the hardware is “not” reset.  So barring the odd timing issue causing a dropped frame, a PCIE Pause shouldn’t even reset a network mount on a Small Tree device.

    Wake On Lan

    We’ve been working hard on a Wake On Lan feature.  This allows us to wake a machine from a sleep state in order to continue offering a service (like File sharing, ssh remote login or Screen sharing).  This may be important for customers wanting to use a Mac Pro as a server via Thunderbolt RAID and Network devices.

    The way it works is that you send a “magic” packet via a tool like “WakeonMac” from another system.  This tells the port to power up the system far enough to start responding to services like AFP.

    What’s interesting about the chip Small Tree uses (Intel x540) is that it requires power in order to watch for the “magic” wake up packet. Thunderbolt wants all power cut to the bus when the machine goes to sleep.  So there’s a bit of a conflict here.  Does a manufacturer violate the spec by continuing to power the device, or do they not support WOL?

    This is most definitely true for the early Thunderbolt/PCIE card cage devices.  They were all very careful to follow the Thunderbolt specification (required for certification and branding) and this leaves them missing this “powered while sleeping” capability.

    Interested in learning more about how you could be using Thunderbolt? Contact me at smodica@small-tree.com.