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Storyfarm uses G-Technology G-SPEED eS PRO to Cut Latest Doc Projects

San Francisco-based post house sold on product's speed, capacity, scalability and responsive tech support By Dean Mermell

Video editors working in high definition (HD) face increasing technical challenges on a daily basis. Their tools need to be sharp, fast and function well under deadline. The sheer size of video files that have to get pushed through today's postproduction workflows can slow a system down to a level where the creative process just isn't fun anymore. For an editor working in HD, the external storage solution that holds your video is now as important as your camera, computer and editing software, and the last thing any editor wants is to have issues because their workstation can't deliver the goods.
The Story Behind Storyfarm
Storyfarm is a postproduction shop based in San Francisco. Owner, Dean Mermell, cuts long-form documentaries, corporate promos and TV commercials for a wide range of clients in the greater Bay Area. He's written for DV magazine and Macworld and taught Final Cut Pro(r) and digital filmmaking at Stanford University. In his free time, Dean writes, produces, directs and scores contemporary silent films. His silent short, "Modern Life," won the 2000 San Francisco International Film Festival's Golden Gate Award for best short film.

Storyfarm owner Dean Mermell with actor Martin Landau

The Solution
G-Technology G-SPEED eS PRO
Speed and scalability. Dean had reached a point at his company where he couldn't afford to compromise on performance any longer. While Dean doesn't work much with uncompressed video, he does use a lot of layers, composites and effects at 720 and 1080 resolutions, so he needed the same kind of throughput as editors working with uncompressed 2K files.



The G-SPEED eS PRO was appealing to Dean because not only did it suit him for the work he's doing now, but if he wanted to work on uncompressed or 2K projects in the future, he liked the idea of simply adding another G-SPEED eS PRO to the system, which is much cheaper than moving up to fibre channel.
A single, four-drive G-SPEED eS Pro unit in RAID 0 delivers a data transfer rate of up to 424MB/sec read and 406MB/sec write performance. When two units are connected together in fail-safe RAID 5 using the included PCIe RAID controller card, the performance goes up to 678MB/sec read and 730MB/sec write.
Capacity. Knowing that the current 3.5-inch G-Technology product line utilized Hitachi's latest 2 terabyte (TB) Deskstar drives, Dean decided the 8TB G-SPEED eS PRO would best meet his needs. While eight terabytes seemed like a lot of space at first, Dean sometimes has two or even three client projects going on at once, as well as his own creative work, and he quickly found that the hours of 1080 data he was working with added up fast.
Great Tech Support
You can have the best hardware at your disposal, but if you can't get the help you need when you crucially need it, it's not worth anything. When configuring the G-SPEED eS PRO, Dean quickly discovered the value of a responsive technical support staff.
The G-SPEED eS PRO is striped in RAID 0 right out of the box, and it was wicked fast, but like many editors do these days, Dean really wanted to format it in RAID 5,. He called tech support and immediately spoke to a person who was very knowledgeable about the G-SPEED eS PRO drive and how different RAID levels work overall.
Additional features of the G-SPEED eS Pro include:

  • RAID 0, 1, 3, 5 and 6 - easily configurable and managed via a browser-based GUI
  • Single unit supports multi-stream compressed HD, ProRes 422 and single stream uncompressed HD playback
  • Super quiet desktop unit with very small footprint
  • Two units support dual-stream HD playback and a single stream of 2K
  • Professional, locking mini SAS port with mini SAS cable included
  • Storage capacities available up to 8TB per unit, scalable to 16TB
  • Compact and stylish aluminum enclosure with thermo-regulated cooling fans
  • Hot-swappable disk drive modules
  • Formatted HFS+ mounts on a Mac Pro desktop right out of the box

Going Beyond Normal
Dean's current documentary project, "The Trouble With Normal," is about the peculiar state of the modern mental healthcare system and what it means to be "crazy." Filmmakers David Mackenzie and Susan Perkins of Everyday Wonder Productions shot the project in cities all over North America, using a Panasonic HVX 200 set up to capture in DVC PRO HD24/720P.
Dean's editing takes a colorful, non-linear approach that reflects the content of this non-traditional documentary.
"I've been using a lot of layers, speed changes and effects that really push the boundaries of long form editing to try and communicate the emotional content of the film. It really maxed out my previous system, but the G-SPEED eS PRO is handling it with ease."
The Next US Project
Dean is also working with Everyday Wonder on "The Next US" project, an ongoing series of 5-minute Webisodes that profile small businesses in America that are thriving in this supposedly bleak economy.
David and Susan are currently travelling across the country in an RV that's outfitted with a mobile production studio. The project is being shot using a number of different cameras and formats, including the Panasonic HVX 200, JVC's HM100 and even an old Sony PD150.
At the end of each production day, David overnights Dean the P2 files on a small FireWire drive, which Dean copies and "unpacks" onto his G-SPEED eS PRO before overnighting the drive back to the filmmakers. Links to trailers and clips for both of these projects can be found on Storyfarm's Projects webpage.
The external storage solution Dean used prior to his work with David and Susan worked fine for standard definition projects that didn't come with punishing deadlines. However, when "The Trouble With Normal" landed in his lap, he soon found that his current solution just wasn't up to the task in terms of reliability and performance.
"The video bit rate for this project comes in at around 5.9MB per second, which my previous RAID could handle without a problem," said Dean. "But for this particular project, and the way it's being cut, the amount of layers and filters, not to mention the sheer volume of data, brought my old system to its knees."
Dean researched the G-Technology by Hitachi product line and decided the G-SPEED eS PRO configured in RAID 5 had the speed, security and capacity to meet his workflow needs.
What's Next for Storyfarm?
Dean hopes to complete "The Trouble with Normal" in 2010, get attention through the usual festival channels and gain a greater audience through HBO or another such entity. "The Next US" is already online, with several moving episodes.
"Of course part of what has really made these projects fun for me is having a rockin' system that doesn't slow my creative process. And, in addition to my Mac, I have the G-SPEED eS PRO to thank for that."

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  • Storyfarm uses G-Technology G-SPEED eS PRO to Cut Latest Doc Projects by DMN Editorial at May 03, 2010 5:06 pm gmt

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