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

    June 16, 2014 by Steve Modica

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    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

     

     


  2. 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.

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    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.”


  3. Biscardi Creative Media By Oliver Peters

    October 25, 2013 by Steve Modica

    Biscardi Creative Media

    By Oliver Peters

    workflow-diagram-BiscardiCreative

    For many years, shared storage solutions seemed like they were out of reach for individual editors and small shops, but Small Tree Communications helped to change that. Biscardi Creative Media in Atlanta is a prime example of why storage networks aren’t a “heavy iron” investment any longer. Founded by Walter Biscardi, the company grew from its beginnings, working from Biscardi’s home, into a brand new, multi-suite facility a few years ago. During that journey Biscardi has been a Small Tree customer for the past seven years – expanding his investment from a single Small Tree unit years ago to now a 48TB ST RAIDII and the addition of a new Small Tree Titanium 32TB unit.

    According to Biscardi, “I initially had three edit suites in the house and first wanted to tie two of them together. In the new facility, I’m operating five edit suites, plus a Pro Tools mixing theater and a DaVinci Resolve station – all of which are connected to a hybrid of our older and newer systems. The original Small Tree ST RAIDII uses an Apple Mac Pro as the media server, while the new Titanium 32TB RAID is an all-in-one unit, with an integrated server inside the chassis. Our edit systems include five Macs and one Dell PC and run a mixture of software, including Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid Symphony. Since we service outside producers, we have to be able to accommodate a number of different editing applications. In addition, we have a library database system and iMacs for our clients in all the suites. The bottom line is that we have a wide range of computers, operating systems and applications that are all able to access and work with media that lives on the Small Tree storage network.”

    Biscardi’s storage is configured as volume-based media with the arrays divided into a total of six partitions. Workstations and client computers all connect using either 10GB or 1GB Ethernet ports via a 26-port 10GB Ethernet switch. Up to 24 computers are connected. The Thunderbolt-enabled iMacs connect to the switch using the Small Tree ThunderNet Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter. As a facility that works on both outside shows for several networks and its own productions, the use of partitions makes it easy to keep ongoing work organized and accessible from any room. All media for a given production is stored within a folder structure on one of the partitions, so it is RAID-5 protected. Edit software project files are saved to the local machines, but then backed up to the Mac Pro media server for protection and for accessibility among the rooms.

    When media comes in, it is ingested from videotape or file-based media (camera cards or hard drives) and placed into the appropriate folder. The librarian creates a top-level folder structure for that project according to a standard folder and subfolder organization method used at the shop. Videotape sources haven’t disappeared yet. With the introduction of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Biscardi Creative has been able to move the videotape capture and output functions over to Premiere Pro from Final Cut Pro 7. Everything ends up in a single master folder for that job, which makes the archiving task easy. Currently Biscardi archives to raw hard drives, but is moving to LTO data tape.

    The entire set-up is less daunting than it sounds and Walter gives all the credit to Small Tree. “We have no staff IT department, so it’s great that this system has been very easy to set-up and administer. With Ethernet, you simply use the built-in network functions of the operating systems, without the need for any extra SAN management software. Adding a client producer onto the network, so they can review their footage, is literally as simple as plugging in a cable and setting up their network log-in. For our main systems, Small Tree has tuned each computer for the optimum playback performance and they can log in remotely to troubleshoot the system. Gig-E is fast enough for editing with several streams of ProRes media and 10Gig-E is handy now that we are dealing with uncompressed 2K files in some of our Resolve color correction sessions. As we grow, expanding the storage will be as simple as adding another Titanium storage chassis.”

    Biscardi Creative Media has also worked with some of Small Tree’s smaller units, like the Titanium 5. They’ve used this for an on-site corporate editing project to connect the editor’s laptop and the client’s PC for a collaborative workflow. This is certainly an example for how shared storage is applicable to even the smallest installation, like a film editor working on location. Walter Biscardi views it this way, “The set-up is ‘stupid simple’. Small Tree has made it so easy that even clients can figure it out. As a facility owner, support is even more important. Storage solutions are at their best when you install them and forget them; but, when we have needed help, Small Tree has been there for us – even on weekends. The truth is that the system just works. I’ve been with them for seven years and I don’t see that changing. You just turn it on and it does whatever you need!”

    ©2013 Oliver Peters


  4. NEIGHBOR Film & Video Workflow Solution Case Study

    April 4, 2013 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Boutique animation studio, NEIGHBOR, had a dilemma – the newly formed company, sprouted from a much larger post-production company, needed a centralized storage solution that would be both fast and future-proof.

    Neighbor Workflow Diagram for Case Study

    Neighbor Workflow Solution Diagram (Click to see larger)

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  5. Keeping School Community Informed

    October 9, 2012 by Joe DiBenedetto

    DPStv

    Location: Denver, CO
    Industry: Cable TV, social media and web streaming
    Working Environment: 8 HD suites running Adobe and Final Cut applications

     

    DPStv, a cable TV, social media and web streaming channel, is responsible for delivering critical school community news to Denver Public Schools families.  (more…)

  6. Shared Storage a Slam Dunk for Utah Jazz and KJZZ-TV

    October 4, 2012 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Utah Jazz and KJZZ-TV

    Location: Salt Lake City, UT
    Industry: TV post-production and live event production
    Working Environment: 16 workstations running various applications including Final Cu Pro

    The post-production team for the Utah Jazz and KJZZ-TV is responsible for bringing the excitement of professional basketball to fans – at the arena and on TV.  (more…)

  7. Digital Cinema Specialists Meet Tight Deadlines for Network Show

    October 14, 2010 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Bling Digital Office

    Location: Toronto, CA
    Industry: TV production
    Working Environment: 12 workstations running various applications including Final Cut and DVD Studio Pro

    Bling Digital is a thriving production service company specializing in video assist, on-set data management and digital dailies solutions for RED ONE camera productions.   (more…)


  8. Small Tree Shared Storage Technology in the “House”

    October 13, 2010 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Bright HouseLocation: Tampa, FL
    Industry: Production and post-production
    Working Environment: 4 Final Cut editing suites, animation station

    A part of the ninth largest multichannel video programmer distributor in the U.S., Bright House Networks Tampa Bay delivers TV, home phone and high speed Internet services local residents depend on.  (more…)


  9. Sports Production Company Scales Workflow

    September 16, 2010 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Location: Teton Village, WY
    Teton Gravity Research OfficesIndustry: Film and television production
    Working Environment: 12 workstations (six laptops and several new Intel-based Mac Pro’s), Final Cut

    As one of the fastest growing brands in the action sports industry,(TGR) captures edge-of-your-seat HD and 3D footage exploring the physical and emotional limitations of world-class athletes.  (more…)


  10. Creative Agency Optimizes Flexibility with Ethernet-based Shared Storage Technology

    August 11, 2010 by Joe DiBenedetto

    Imageworks

    Location: Pasco, WA
    Industry: Production and post-production
    Working Environment: Final Cut

    Specializing in branding, interactive, motion, photography and print projects,Imageworks develops 3D animation and hi-def video to provide innovative solutions to its diverse client-base.  (more…)