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DigitalFilm Tree Puts Down Storage Roots with Facilis TerraBlock

Digital Film Tree Case Study ImageFounded in 1998, Los Angeles-based DigitalFilm Tree post-production, software and consulting powerhouse with a sweet spot in film, television and technology. As a creative finishing company and post production pipeline developer that also houses a large pool of equipment for rent, DigitalFilm Tree has lent its services and technology to primetime television series like “NCIS Los Angeles,” “Mistresses” and “Cougar Town,” as well as motion picture films like “Her.” Behind every one of Digital Film Tree’s projects is a talented team of creatives, as well as dynamic file-based workflows with Facilis TerraBlock shared storage systems at the foundation.

DigitalFilm Tree initially invested in three TerraBlock systems when switching from Apple® Final Cut Pro® 7 to Avid® Media Composer® a few years ago. Guillaume Aubuchon, DigitalFilm Tree CTO, said, “We needed an agile storage solution that would ease the transition to Media Composer, but require minimal maintenance. After careful research, TerraBlock emerged as the clear winner – not only did it offer more raw horsepower than any of the other solutions we’d seen, but the density of the storage for the price was unbelievable.”

Having just completed an 8-gigabit Fibre Channel facility upgrade, the flexibility to connect to TerraBlock via Fibre Channel and Ethernet was also enticing. DigitalFilm Tree would be able to work within its existing storage infrastructure, but easily adapt in the future. “With other solutions, you’re bound by just Fibre Channel or Ethernet. Facilis showed great versatility with several input and output options to meet current and future needs,” shared Aubuchon.

Prior to installing the TerraBlocks, maintaining DigitalFilm Tree’s infrastructure proved cumbersome. The previous storage system comprised servers and drive chassis that constantly needed replacements, which caused bottlenecks, cost the team time and proved a source of much frustration. “Before the TerraBlocks, we were doing two to three drive replacements per month, and if there was a power outage, it took an IT person 45 minutes to reboot the system,” noted Aubuchon. “The TerraBlocks run themselves. Since installing them, there have been zero drive replacements, and if there’s a power outage, they come back online automatically.”

DigitalFilm Tree has added even more TerraBlocks to its facility since purchasing the first three – for a total of four TerraBlock 24Ds, two 24EXs and six 8XSs. Today, the four TerraBlock 24Ds are connected to 35 different clients (Mac, Windows or Linux) via 8-gigabit Fibre Channel, which are leveraged internally for high-end finishing and dubbing on client projects. Each workstation houses an array of programs including Avid Media Composer 5 and 7; Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 9 and 10; Adobe® Creative Suite® 6, Adobe® Photoshop® and Adobe® Premiere Pro® through Adobe® Creative Cloud™; Apple Final Cut Pro 7 and X; and Autodesk® Smoke® 2013. The remaining TerraBlock systems are part of DigitalFilm Tree’s rental business.

“We’re program agnostic, so the fact that the TerraBlocks allow us to work with all of these apps out of the box is crucial; our entire facility runs off of them,” Aubuchon explained. “The systems also enable our team to perform tasks with the same media simultaneously, so we’ve really come to depend on them to provide aggregate performance and storage to meet the needs of users across all of our departments.”

With 4K gaining momentum, DigitalFilm Tree is starting to see more and more 4K customer inquiries. As this shift occurs, the added value of TerraBlock in 4K workflows is quickly becoming apparent. DigitalFilm Tree CEO Ramy Katrib concluded, “In today’s file-based world, you have to be able to store a deluge of media, and TerraBlock can consistently handle massive amounts of data while maintaining top-notch performance. As our clients demand higher resolutions, we’re pushing the TerraBlocks to the max. They seamlessly handle 4K workflows; no matter how close we are to capacity, they just keep performing beautifully.”

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