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  1. 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


    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 Follow Small Tree on LinkedIn, or @smalltreecomm.


    June 16, 2014 by Steve Modica


    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.


    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.”



  3. 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 Follow Small Tree on LinkedIn, or @SmallTreeComm.