New McPherson Optimises Workflow with Shared Storage Workflow Solution from Digistor
New McPherson is an award-winning Melbourne-based video production company that delivers stunning, thoughtful and effective branded video collateral including online content, TVCs and training and education content. Specialising in digital storytelling, New McPherson's client list includes Myer, Telstra, University of Melbourne and Colliers International.
Like many growing professional post-production facilities, New Mac had organically evolved their own pipelines and storage strategy over time without necessarily having the luxury of the time to pause and analyse the studio’s efficiency. The resulting workflows involved time consuming duplication of content between suites and no automated and safe way to back up. This caused extended lead times in completing clients’ work.
"The solution and Digistor’s service has been great. No more bottlenecks, no more duplication. Our data is secure and the solution is professionally supported. What more can you ask for?"
“We were keen to install a solution that would make us more efficient in our production pipeline,” stated James McPherson, Managing Director. “Perhaps as importantly, from the client’s perspective, we needed to ensure we that had the infrastructure in place to protect their data.”
Pete Brownstein, Account Manager at Digistor, had a brief discussion with James at an awards evening.
“On the night, New McPherson had swept the floor with awards for their work,” stated Pete. “From my discussion with James I knew that they would see value in looking at a solution that would remove hindrances to creative talent and streamline their production pipeline.”
Existing Infrastructure and Pipeline
The existing infrastructure included a range of removable drives to port data from one workstation to another. There was also a small Networked-Attached Storage (NAS) device with limited ethernet bandwidth in place which was used to store and copy audio tracks and graphics content over the Ethernet network that were being repurposed in different projects.
Each workstation utilised internal non-redundant storage which meant that, with 5 Dell workstations running Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop, there was a lot of duplication between suites to get a project completed.
An added concern was that the non-redundant nature of the workstation storage meant there was no data protection.
The solution consultation with Digistor involved Pete Brownstein and Digistor’s lead technical resource in Melbourne, Phillip Gorini. Through a process of analysing New McPherson’s editing and post-production requirements, their existing pipeline and its inherent pain-points and also the budgetary requirements, Phill and Pete mapped out potential solutions.
“After meeting with and discussing over the phone with both Pete and Phill, we felt comfortable that the Digistor guys 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 keep growing with the business. There was no point buying a solution that was not going to grow with us,” said James.
“Small Tree TitaniumZ storage was our first choice for New McPherson’s shared editing platform,” explained Pete. “It ticked all the boxes for their needs and simplicity from an installation point of view. We had the whole solution running in a couple of days.“
Capable of supporting numerous multimedia content creation workstations with a highly flexible mix of gigabit Ethernet and 10-gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) 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 Suite in addition to Apple Final Cut Pro X and Avid Media Composer, offering creative facilities optimal flexibility.
The Small Tree TitaniumZ-16 allowed for direct connection for all the suites over a 10GbE network. Once connected, all 5 suites could share media directly for editing and playback without duplication of assets or time-consuming copying.
For near-line backup, an Infortrend EonNAS storage NAS was installed. The EonNAS was directly connected to the Small Tree via 10GbE. Small Tree storage solutions include a utility called RSync. RSync is a file synchronisation and transfer program that synchronises files and directories between two different storage systems automatically. Digistor configured RSync so that New McPherson’s data was automatically backed up to the NAS providing data security.
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 and the design team, who did not require real-time editing performance, could continue to access the storage via their existing 1Gb house network. This solution provided 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.
The solution also includes an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to ensure there is no down-time caused by a power interruption. The UPS directly communicates with the Small Tree storage.
“We did have an issue getting the UPS to talk to the Small Tree from a management point of view,” explained Phill. “The support team at Small Tree were on the case and had the UPS database updated to include the model we installed. The Small Tree team had no hesitation connecting to the unit remotely to resolve any niggling installation issues such as this one.”
“The solution and Digistor’s service has been great. No more bottlenecks, no more duplication. Our data is secure and the solution is professionally supported. What more can you ask for?” said James.
Designed for Expansion
As New McPherson continues to grow, take on more jobs and work with more formats, scalability is important. One of the reasons Digistor recommended Small Tree was that the storage space can be expanded without requiring a time-consuming re-build. In addition, as new editing suites are brought on-line, additional multiport 10GbE cards can be simply added to the chassis.
“Since installing the Small Tree we have expanded our business by 66% and due to the scalability of the solution we have had no extra costs or burden on the infrastructure. It’s been a real graduation for our business to grow into the setup we have now,” said James
Take the First Step to a Better Future
From a chance meeting and brief exchange at an awards function, Digistor and New McPherson have gone on to collaborate on the introduction of a dramatically more productive workflow solution to the studio. Through the introduction of Small Tree shared storage, Infortrend EonNAS backup and some revised workflows specified by Digistor, the studio can deliver more client work in a shorter time at a higher quality and has enhanced the work environment for creative staff.
“We always say that the first step is to talk to Digistor even if you think things are operating smoothly,” said Pete. “Once we complete an analysis of facilities and workflow there are always things that can be improved and safeguards that can be put in place for the future. This is what we do.”
New McPherson’s website http://www.newmcpherson.com/
- Small Tree TitaniumZ 16bay 32TB with 10GbE connectivity
- Infortrend EonNAS 1012E3 36TB 10GbE
- Small Tree single port 10GbE CAT 6 cards for workstations