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PostWorks, New York

PostWorks, New York’s commitment to delivering outstanding post-production services to an impressive roster of Oscar winning filmmakers and TV and broadcast producers, Schneider and Stewart have long been investigating new technologies as they come on the market.

In 2004, the team learned about a new kind of shared storage, and they came on board as beta testers for Facilis’ Technology’s TerraBlock. “Storage is always an issue for us, and all others in the industry,” says Schneider, director of technology at PostWorks, New York. “We don’t charge for storage, but we all need it. It can be hard to justify the expense, and that’s the initial reason we decided to look at TerraBlock.”

PostWorks, New York profile:

  • 3 locations, including a dedicated picture processing facility
  • 120,000+ square feet of studios and editing suites
  • Services include SD/HD editing, sound design, color correction, film scanning and recording, 2K conform and grading, DVD authoring and duplication
  • 100+ seat rental capacity for on-site and off-site services

Storage flexibility at work: High Definition

As PWNY was setting up their first TerraBlock 24D system in 2004, the industry-wide transition from SD to HD was quickly gaining ground. PostWorks immediately turned the TerraBlock into storage for its Avid DS Nitris workstations. As they started capturing HD footage, the TerraBlock showed its ability to handle the most high-bandwidth formats out of the box.

Because the HD frame is so much larger than SD, storage plays a more important role. The additional speed and capacity usually comes with a higher price tag, and most facilities need to find the balance between muscle and money. “Most storage systems are cost- prohibitive,” says Matt Schneider, who has used a number of different systems, from SCSI to fiber channel. “The TerraBlock strikes the balance between great features and cost.”

A recent addition to the TerraBlock server family at PostWorks is slated for use as HD storage for their Avid Symphony Nitris systems. The benefit of TerraBlock over local SCSI storage is the protection and accessibility from multiple stations. “The TerraBlock serves two roles. It becomes a switchable storage system when each unit is dedicated to a single HD 1080i room, or shared storage when working in multiple rooms simultaneously on lower bandwidth formats such as 24P HD,” concludes Schneider.

A step further: Digital Intermediate

In 2005 it became clear that digital intermediate work was here to stay. Corey Stewart, PostWorks’ Director of Systems Engineering, tasked himself with turning the TerraBlock’s HD success into an infrastructure for PostWorks’ growing DI work. He designed a process that differs slightly from other production facilities. “Because we have a large storage infrastructure in place, we don’t have to work in single reels,” says Stewart. “We’re more effective because we can quickly offload finished reels and move on to the next, already in digital form. What may take days in other shops, takes only hours for us.”

PostWorks has created an orchestra of best-of-breed 2K DI finishing tools, including Pandora’s Pogle 2K color correction system and Quantel’s iQ finishing tools. These systems are “literally joined at the hip by the TerraBlock,” says Stewart.

Digital intermediate work is hard on storage capacity and bandwidth, explains Stewart. So he staged the process to have the TerraBlock servers act as 2K direct playback storage when needed, but also as holding zones for multiple jobs, handling anywhere from two-five jobs at any given time. “There’s no way to get enough local storage on some of the proprietary workstations, so we rely on a rotating door of in/out. With the TerraBlock, you can mount multiple volumes on every station to solve the problem of transfer speed, volume management and accessibility for every client on the network.”

PostWorks has used the TerraBlock for multiple feature films, including Everything is Illuminated (2005), June Bug (2005), and Neil Young: Heart of Gold, which premiered the 2006 Sundance Festival.

The proof: Success

The PostWorks approach to evaluating new technologies has helped them become one of New York’s most respected full-service film and high definition post facilities. PostWorks sets itself apart by offering scalable production offices, rentals and the highest level of commitment to quality and customer service.

They demand the same from their technology partners. They also believe in letting history speak for itself: today, PostWorks is the largest installation of the TerraBlock. With four 24D servers in place for a maximum capacity of 43TB, PostWorks will continue to lead the market in high definition and digital intermediate work, knowing that their infrastructure is sound, secure, and scalable.

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