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  1. Fancy Film Post Services Installs Small Tree TitaniumZ Shared Storage to Meet Substantial Workload Increase

    January 21, 2015 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Academy Award-Winning Post House Sees Greater Flexibility with New System

    External BuildingHollywood, CA, Jan. 21, 2015 — With its workload doubling from the previous year, Academy Award-winning post shop, Fancy Film Post Services, installed the TitaniumZ-16 shared storage system from Small Tree to accommodate additional projects while improving project management. The affordable, Ethernet-based shared storage solution offers the team at Fancy Film greater flexibility and credibility, placing the small post shop on a level playing field with bigger facilities for future business opportunities.

    Best known for its work on independent films like Undefeated, as well as projects for ABC, Discovery and The History Channel, Fancy Film specializes in online, color correction, audio mixing and delivery. Featuring over 20 post rooms, including a broadcast bay and projection room for television and theatrical projects, respectively, the facility is tech-agnostic to meet any and all client needs, utilizing a mixture of Macs, Windows and Linux-based machines in the 12 bays accessing the TitaniumZ-16.

    The company’s shift to the Small Tree appliance was necessitated by its previous storage system’s inability to offer read and write capabilities to multiple users simultaneously – allowing only a single active read/write client at a time. Having the TitaniumZ-16 was a major difference maker for Fancy Film on one of its most recent films – Battered Bastards of Baseball. Shown at Sundance, the movie was picked up within 12 hours by Netflix, but immediate changes were required before it would air as a Netflix Original. Working off the TitaniumZ, the facility’s finishing team was able to handle full studio delivery in-house while meeting Netflix’s strict standards.

    “We’re a little bit unique in that we don’t do a lot of offline editorial, so we don’t always need multiple access to media files,” said Bill Macomber, CEO/CTO for Fancy Film. “However, when a project heats up, such as Battered Bastards of Baseball, we need a bunch of people to jump on at once for a collaborative effort. That wasn’t possible until we had the TitaniumZ in our studio.”

    According to Macomber, as the company’s CEO and CTO, in addition to enabling multiple users to have active read/write access the new shared storage unit needed to be reasonably priced and easy to manage. A cost-prohibitive and difficult to manage system would force the company to raise its rates or require spending valuable time tending to technical issues.

    “The whole process needed to be lightweight as possible on me, otherwise we’re talking about another $10k to $80k for a system comparable to what Small Tree provides,” Macomber stated. “The bigger deal for me was implementing a simple to manage solution that would minimize IT overhead. A lot of companies will spend $30k every month on IT. Since we specialize in independent films, we work with tight budgets. Going out to buy an expensive system would force us to change our pricing, which would have a drastic impact on the clients we serve.”

    Capable of supporting numerous multimedia content creation workstations with a highly flexible mix of Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet configuration options, TitaniumZ is designed and tested to provide maximum performance for real-time video-editing workflows. With its Tier 1 configuration, Small Tree TitaniumZ can scale to 288TB raw in RAID5. With the addition of its more cost-effective Tier 2 back-up NAS configuration, the TitaniumZ can easily provide another 432TB on the network.

    “We’ve built up our drive to 95 percent capacity and have not noticed a speed slowdown,” Macomber continued. “With TitaniumZ’s dynamic data set we never have to worry about how much data we expect a project is going to use – it’s been a revolutionary thing for us. It gives us a lot more flexibility and ups our organizational game. We wouldn’t be able to do the amount of work that we’ve done over the past year without switching to the TitaniumZ.”

    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. Small Tree Shared Storage Solution a Big Hit with Production Company Specializing in Music Videos

    January 6, 2015 by Joe DiBenedetto

    TitaniumZ-16 Improves Project Management on Recent Video for EDM Star Caribou

    Project Screen Shot  Z16 Rack  Pomp Clout Staff

    Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 7 , 2015 — The haunting beauty of EDM artist Caribou’s latest video, “Our Love,” shot on a 6K RED Epic Dragon, was pieced together far more quickly in large part because of the production company’s recent decision to implement Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-16 shared storage system at its studio.

    VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMwgcRByA8Y

    Pomp&Clout is a Brooklyn-based design and media production company with a broad spectrum of award-winning projects ranging from music videos and tour visuals to motion graphics and pixel-perfect interface design.  The decision to install the Ethernet-based TitaniumZ-16 shared storage technology with 10Gb connectivity came from the company’s desire – and need – to strengthen project management and improve workflow.

    Filmed in Ireland in 6K (6144×3072) 48fps on the RED Epic Dragon, it was extra-critical for the Pomp&Clout team to watch playback after each take, due to the long take nature of the video’s concept, so that they could ensure all was documented appropriately before moving forward.

    “Despite having the footage backed up across multiple drives on location, I was understandably nervous about flying back to our post-production offices in Brooklyn with the footage, given the less than stellar drives we sourced in rural Ireland,” said Ryan Staake, executive producer and director at Pomp&Clout. “It wasn’t until I’d quickly backed the footage up to our Small Tree TitaniumZ-16 that I could breathe a sigh of relief and the fun could begin.”

    Once back in New York, Staake and his team blocked out the timing in Premiere using raw 6K footage directly from the TitaniumZ-16 via 10Gb Ethernet connections on two machines. Staake and his creative director, Aaron Vinton, were able to simultaneously audition different takes, show their progress, share notes and continue with the project. After a week, ideal edits of takes with rough transitions and re-timing of footage were selected before moving to VFX, where Vinton began exploring subtle lens-effects of the footage and Staake focused on transitions between takes and VFX touchups. Lastly, the two worked on stabilizing the footage to minimize minor Steadicam bumps.

    “What was amazing to me,” Staake revealed, “was that we could both work off of raw 6K footage simultaneously while experiencing zero lag. What’s more, other members of our team were working on completely different footage from the TitaniumZ-16 at the same time – again with zero lag. As a result, a project that would have taken four weeks using multiple drives was completed in two weeks, and that includes production.”

    Capable of supporting numerous multimedia content creation workstations with a highly flexible mix of Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet configuration options, TitaniumZ is designed and tested to provide maximum performance for real-time video-editing workflows. With its Tier 1 configuration, Small Tree TitaniumZ can scale to 288TB raw in RAID5. With the addition of its more cost-effective Tier 2 back-up NAS configuration, the TitaniumZ can easily provide another 432TB on the network.

    The shared storage system works flawlessly with the entire Adobe Creative Cloud applications, as was required at Pomp&Clout’s facility where four workstations, including a Mac Pro, two MacBook Pros and a PC machine are connected directly the TitaniumZ without a switch to help achieve lower latency. The Small Tree system also works well with Apple Final Cut Pro X and Avid Media Composer, offering creative facilities optimal flexibility.

    “The immediacy of data transfer has been really incredible,” Staake remarked. “We’re doing stuff through 10Gb, which enables us to copy a massive piece of footage or a final rendered project from a local drive onto the TitaniumZ instantaneously. That’s been a major game changer for us.”

    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.


  3. Storage (and Productivity) Innovations for 2015

    December 10, 2014 by Tom Jennings

    In today’s servers, the primary storage system is spinning disk connected to hardware RAIDs to achieve speed and redundancy. The limitation on performance deals with how many spindles you can get operating at the same time. With 10Gb Ethernet, there is usually a way to have the network output keep up with the storage. Processors and backplanes are not well utilized, as they continue to be much faster than the rotating storage.

    Over history, the question has been “what can I change to make the bottleneck be something else?” The problem is that a number of these pieces are balanced to match the rotating disk speed. RAID sets of 8 drives are balanced with the RAID being about as fast as the 8 spinning disks.

    To add speed, we add more RAIDs and more drive sets, but eventually you run out of slots without fully utilizing the processor or the backplane speed. The LSI RAID cards we uses are limited to two ports, with each port handling four drives. Even maxing out the two SAS ports with faster disks would limit us to 1.5 gigabytes per second per slot, so just replacing the drives with SSDs would gain us less than a 2X improvement.

    So where do we go now? If we replace the RAID with a 12Gb SATA or SAS host adaptor and change out the drives to SSDs, we start to see some improvement. Now we use ZFS to gain redundancy and provisioning. Gone are the 2-port limits, so we can connect enough SSDs to more efficiently use the PCI-Express bus, and we see the total throughput rise to 8GB per second.

    We now turn our attention to the output side. Where we had been using 10 gigabit Ethernet connections, we see 40Gb Ethernet connections making more sense. Now a twin 40Gb port card gets us 10GB per slot on the output side.

    With the increased bandwidth on both storage and networking, we see the backplane better utilized, and we start to see some stress on processor speed. Life is great, once again, except how do we get all that data out to users? All this does nothing for us if the user is still operating on a 1Gb Ethernet port over SMB2 or AFP.

    Let us look at the connection first. We see 40Gb Ethernet cards being available in add-on configuration, but how about laptops or Mac Pros? Enter Thunderbolt 3, which is due out next year, with enough bandwidth to handle a 40Gb connection. Hold that thought for a moment as we see opportunities for SMB3 with multi-path. With Thunderbolt 3 and SMB3, you could run multiple 10Gb connections to the switch or server, or run a pair of full 40Gb connections.

    In 2015, it looks like we’ll finally see server systems less defined by the number of spindles than by the number of cores or 40Gb connections.

    Tom Jennings is with Small Tree, www.small-tree.com


  4. Improving Video Project Workflow Mission Critical for Leading Consumer Product Company

    November 3, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-8 Shared Storage System a “Complete Dream” for Editing Team

    Jasco_Jason Lemon_Product shootOklahoma City, Nov. 3, 2014 Jasco Products Company, a leading developer and distributor of GE and other leading brand products, recently took critical steps to strengthen its marketing project workflow with the installation of a TitaniumZ-8 Ethernet-based shared storage system from Small Tree. With the introduction of the TitaniumZ-8 unit, Jasco’s video-editing post-production team has greater product management capability and flexibility, helping to tighten the turnaround time on client projects.

    “When I first joined Jasco, I was the only video editor,” said Andy Seifried, the company’s video production coordinator. “As business and client requests have grown, we’ve added multiple editors and reached the point where introducing a networked shared storage system was mission critical – working off portable storage drives was a short-term solution to a long-term need. Small Tree’s turnkey, scalable system has been a complete dream for our editing team.”

    Established in 1975, Jasco develops cutting-edge consumer products for all distribution channels internationally. With a new state-of-the-art video production studio producing product information and instructional videos, as well as featuring three Mac Pro systems running Adobe Creative Suite, the company was searching for an affordable and robust storage solution that would grow along with it. Seifried and his team determined that Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-8 would not only meet Jasco’s immediate needs, but the system’s scalability would be an asset moving forward.

    Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-8 offers storage capacities (raw) from 10TB to 1PB (Petabyte) and is designed and tested to provide maximum performance for real-time video-editing workflows. Like all of Small Tree’s popular shared storage systems, TitaniumZ-8 includes the ZenOS operating system, providing video editing teams with even better performance by capitalizing on Samba 4 with built in Avid Media sharing, multipath iSCSI support and lightning fast network performance.

    In addition to exceptional performance, working with both Gb and 10Gb clients, TitaniumZ’s ease of setup and use make the appliance an attractive solution for industry professionals like Seifried.

    “We received the boxes, plugged the drives in, made sure the hardware was working right with our systems and we were up and running,” Seifried stated. “On top of that, the personal attention Small Tree provided throughout the process should serve as the case study in optimal customer service.”

    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.


  5. Award-Winning Australian Video Agency Taps Small Tree and Digistor to Maximize Workflow

    September 11, 2014 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Melbourne Company Achieves Optimal Speeds and ROI with TitaniumZ-16 Shared Storage System Across 10GbE

    new-mcpherson-team1Melbourne, Australia, Sept. 9, 2014 — Delivering stunning video content for corporate, agency and government clients, New McPherson recently grew tired of its cumbersome workflow system. To accelerate its post-production process, the Melbourne-based agency turned to Digistor, digital media solution specialists, for expert counsel. After a thorough review of New McPherson’s setup, which included a range of direct connect external drives moving data from one workstation to another, Digistor prescribed a robust, scalable and ROI-friendly TitaniumZ-16 Ethernet-based shared storage system from Small Tree.

    “It was obvious after a brief call then a site visit with Pete Brownstein and Phill Gorini with Digistor that they had our backs and were looking at solutions that would not only perform as we required, but also give us the support we need to keeping growing with the business,” said James McPherson, Managing Director with New McPherson. “There was no point buying a solution that was not going to grow with us.”

    Featuring seven Dell, Windows-based workstations running Adobe Video applications, including Adobe Premiere Pro, AE and PS, there was a lot of duplication between suites to complete projects at New McPherson prior to installing the TitaniumZ-16 unit with 10 x 10GbE adapters. This meant longer lead times to complete client work and more hours wasted in file transfers across the network. In addition to wasting time, using portable drives to duplicate content between suites meant there was no safe, automated way for the agency’s video editors to back up their data.

    “We were keen to get a solution that would make us more efficient in our production pipeline and, more importantly, protect our clients’ projects,” McPherson said regarding the decision to select TitaniumZ-16.

    Capable of supporting numerous multimedia content creation workstations with a highly flexible mix of gigabit Ethernet and 10 gigabit Ethernet configuration options featuring storage capacities (raw) from 10TB to 1000TB (1 Petabyte), TitaniumZ is designed and tested to provide maximum performance for real-time video-editing workflows. The shared storage system works flawlessly with the entire Adobe Creative Cloud applications in addition to Apple Final Cut Pro X and Avid Media Composer, offering creative facilities optimal flexibility.

    “We loved the fact that the TitaniumZ-16 allows for direct connection for all of our suites,” McPherson stated. “Going with 10GbE was great as it meant we didn’t have to invest in expensive fibre optic cabling or a 10Gb switch infrastructure. We just plugged our suites directly into the Small Tree appliance and had exceptional speed for our design team to use with 10Gb cards.”

    Because Small Tree builds 10Gb ports directly into the TitaniumZ, there’s often no need for a switch. New McPherson was able to connect all of their workstations directly to the TitaniumZ, providing lower latency, reduced complexity and reduced cost of ownership (no support or software licensing concerns for a switch).  The result is an elegant workflow that’s less expensive and more performant than a similar Fibre Channel setup. New McPherson also used the 10GbE to connect an Infortrend EonNAS to use as a backup solution with RSync, which was preinstalled in Small Tree’s system.

    Available in a variety of drive configurations, from 5 to 144 supporting 16 to 144 concurrent ProRes 422 streams, with multiple network scalability options, and extremely easy to install, Small Tree’s TitaniumZ line of shared storage solutions can meet the demands of any facility, large or small.

    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.


  6. My Hopes for IBC this Year

    August 28, 2014 by Steve Modica

    I’m heading out to IBC and there are a number of things I hope to see there. Of course, I’ve got customers asking me about SSDs, and engineers working on 40Gb Ethernet and people want to bring it all together. Really, what’s the hold up here?

    My short wish list:

    • 3.5” Server Chassis (8, 16, 24) with 12Gb SAS expanders onboard
    • 2.5” Server Chassis (12 and 24) with 12Gb SAS expanders onboard
    • Balanced 40Gb switches that can legitimately aggregate 16 or 24 10Gb ports into 4 or 6 40Gb ports
    • 4TB or larger SSDs that can handle enterprise workloads but cost less than $1000 per Terabyte
    • Thunderbolt 3 previews
    • 40Gb Ethernet Adapters
    • 8 or 10Terabyte 7200RPM SAS drives
    • New Wi-Fi technology that can run full duplex and offer backpressure and bandwidth reservation (can you imagine editing wirelessly?)

    Obviously, I have a few of these technologies in hand already, but there are some major roadblocks to building a balanced server with them. SSDs are very expensive and still too small. We’ll need those 400MB/sec devices to justify putting 40Gb ports in a server.

    Shifting gears, in September, we are going to be running a special at Small Tree. If you purchase a TitaniumZ (8 or 16), we’re giving away two SANLink2 10Gb Ethernet Adapters. Using the two onboard 10Gb ports on the Titanium, you can immediately connect two clients and be editing over 10Gb.

    Contact Small Tree today to purchase your TitaniumZ system with two Promise SANLink2 10Gb Ethernet Adapters included – salesteam@small-tree.com or 866-782-4622. Purchase must be completed by 9/30/14.


  7. 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.


  8. 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?


  9. 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.


  10. 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