25 Mar 2020

Elephant Productions

Let's talk about the FastNas in the room

Co-founded in Austin, Texas, more than 25 years ago by Jeff Hastings and Quincy Lowman to bring a better experience to businesses seeking a video production partner, Elephant Production is driven by the same mission today.

They value relationships: with clients, with creative partners, and with each other, which is why a substantial portion of their work arrives by way of client referrals. In terms of storage, most of Elephant's ealry years were dominated by direct attached drives and the inherenet issues of moving them to where they were needed by foot or 'sneaker-net' workflow.

That approach was more-or-less fine until one particular job came along that would require seven editors working collaboratively to meet the tight deadline...shared storage was a must and from that point forward, Elephant never looked back. Elephant invested in a Ethernet-based storage system, which worked reasonably well and had sufficient capacity.

But the advent of 4K production requirements began to expose its weaknesses, starting with the Ethernet connection itself. It was soon apparent that the time had come to look at investing in a new shared storage system.

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According to Elephant Productions Post Production Supervisor and Editor, John McIver, "We had hoped to find a way to upgrade our existing Ethernet-based system, but as is often the case with some manufacturers, there wasn't a direct path available.

We would have had to purchase an entirely new system from the same provider. We could have done that of course, but I wanted to do my due diligence and explore what other solutions might be available.

"I was fully aware that there were a lot of storage systems on the market, including DIY options and others that I already knew were far too expensive to even consider. But during this exploratory period, I kept coming back to GB Labs partly because of the relationship I had developed with them, but also of course, because what GB Labs had to offer increasingly made sense for my short and long-term needs. We soon started talking more seriously, and even though I didn't really have much of a budget, they offered to loan me a test system with a 10GbE connection, which was exactly what I was looking for at the time."

As McIver explained, Elephant Productions didn't need huge amounts of storage or fancy, little-used features. It just wanted more throughout at a comfortable cost. The loaned 10GbE GB Labs system delivered immediate and demonstrable benefits.

However, Elephant wasn't quite ready to move forward unitl a few months later when the warranties started to expire on almost everything related to their existing system, unfortunately just as a few of the drives were starting to fail. On top of that, multiple support contracts were up for renewal.

McIver said, "My feeling was that instead fo continuing to throw money at support fees for failing equipment, those funds should be redirected to all new, full-proof system that GB Labs had by then proven it could provide. It not only vastly accelerated our throughput, it could make use of our legacy storage for other, less crucial purposes such as near-line storage. It was win, win (repurpose) and win."

The solution GB Labs ultimatley provided was its FastNAS F-16 Nitro. It enabled multiple clients to simultaneously collaborate on a project, which was critical to Elephant Products' desire to move away from having to wait to recieve disks from a colleague down the hall in order to work on the media. The bottom line is that FastNas F-16 Nitro once again provided itslef as the ideal storage platform fro anyone interested in a compact, large capacity, high performance NAS that is sold at a remarkably attractive price.

Even better, the FastNAS concept in shared storage, powered by GB Labs' CORE.4 OS Lite, includes the engine and key modules from GB Labs', powerful CORE.4 OS, the acclaimed operating system that drives GB Labs' flagship SPACE, ECHO and VAULT product ranges.

With its previous 1GbE connection, Elephant Productions could continue as it always has, i.e. perform editing directly from the server. However, editing 4K productions was tedious and slow to a point where some editors working in 4K opted t do it with less-than-optimal local drives, with added uncertainty over nightly central backups.

However, in GB Labs-supported 10bE system, multi-camera shoots and the like are flawless. Editing and playback can take place wihtout any kind of rendering. McIver said, "We were admittedly slow to roll into 4K as there wasn't a huge push for it, but now that we're there, and even thoughtb we stil do a lot fo work in 1080p, the ability to easily work in 4K - and in virtually any format that it comes in and edit it right from the media serverw whenever we want to - is reassuring."

Elephant Productions' clients base ranges from Fortune 500 corporate to small, regional non-profits and everything in between. Each of them has different requirements, timelines, and budgets.

The benefit of what GB Labs provides from a project management perspective, regardless of a production's budget, is that it vastly accelerates many of Elephant's workflows, especially when it comes to the larger, multi-hour productions.

Enabling seperate edit suites to collaborate - and eventually review work with a client - using shared storage without shuttling drives or endlessly copying files back and forth, increase productivity and enable Elephant Productions to work on more project, it is a major plus.

McIver concludes, "We can turn everything around so much more quickly. Clients love that we love that - because when review time comes, no one is sitting in a suite until 2am to get through it anymore. "There's a veyr good reason it's called FastNAS."

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I was fully aware that there were a lot of storage systems on the market, including DIY options and others that already knew were far too expensive to even consider.

But during this exploratory period, I kept coming back to GB Labs partly because of the relationship I had developed with them, but also, of course, because what GB Labs has to offer increasingly made sense for my short and long-term needs.

We soon started talking more seriously, and even though I didn't really have much of a budget, they offered to loan me a test system with a 10GbE connection, which was exactly what I was looking for at the time.

John McIver

Post Production Supervisor and Editor