The Division – Graveyard Carz

Case Study: The Division - Graveyard Carz

The Division Needed a Way for Several Editors to Access the Same Media at the Same Time.

With over 26 episodes to be completed in the coming months, The Division, the team behind Velocity by Discovery’s Graveyard Carz, needed to accelerate their post production workflow.

The growing company was three seasons into the production of their hit show, Graveyard Carz. They had scraped by on consumer-grade storage for the past five years, and The Division was long overdue for a storage solution that made sense.

The post production workstations consist of four Windows PCs and an iMac running Premiere Pro, a Windows PC running DaVinci Resolve, and a Mac Pro using Adobe Audition.

Online Editor and Executive Producer Aaron Smith was eager to find a way to help post production at the Division run as a well-oiled machine. “We needed a way to share all of our media between several editors, our audio mixer, and the colorist. Every time we had to copy or transcode files it added a couple minutes to a task, and those minutes quickly add up to hours and days. We aren't a big shop, so we needed something easy to set up, and simple to use.”

““After experiencing shared storage with Small Tree, we're never looking back.”The Division

Small Tree Communications designed the perfect solution using the Titaniumz-16 shared storage

The Division has a mixture of Macs and Windows operating systems. All of the workstations can now share the same media at the same time, eliminating the need for file transfers between computers. The speed of the TitaniumZ made it possible to move terabytes of assets onto the storage system in the morning and share them in an afternoon. “Within a day, we were completely set up and accessing media on the TitaniumZ. Editors were picking up media and editing segments in no time.”

When a segment is shot, the media from the camera cards are copied to the appropriate folder on the TitaniumZ. Each segment can be any mixture of media shot on Canon 60D, 7D, 5D MkII, GoPro, and even Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras. “At the moment we're just working in HD, but 4K is definitely a possibility for the future, and it's nice to know the Titanium Z can handle those kinds of data rates through 10 gigabit Ethernet.” The media is then organized, renamed, and assigned a specific serial number which is used to identify media and log metadata later using Trello, a web-based project management application. The serial number is prepended to all of the media for that segment.

Once the media is on the TitaniumZ and renamed with serial numbers, the media is ready for any of the segment editors to throw into Adobe Premiere. All of the segments are edited in the native camera formats at full resolution directly off the TitaniumZ. The main content, QuickTime H.264 footage shot on Canon DSLR cameras, is shot in the Technicolor Cinestyle color setting at 45mbps, while the GoPro footage is shot using the ProTune color settings at 35mbps. Post production supervisor Casey Faris explains, “We don't make proxies anymore because there's no need to do so. The TitaniumZ is beyond capable of handling the data rates we throw at it. Even with several editors working, editing multiple streams of HD video is a breeze. We have yet to see any slowdown or hiccup in performance. Our editors were actually surprised at how fast the TitaniumZ is. It's like working from a local drive, but faster.”

“With the Small Tree solution we have a mix of gigabit and 10 gigabit Ethernet connections hooked straight into the TitaniumZ. No need for external switches or servers running complex software. We have the color grading and online seats hooked up via 10 gigabit Ethernet, which provides plenty of room when handling finishing codecs like ProRes 4444 and CineForm, while the other editors have more than enough bandwidth cutting native camera codecs.” Says Smith.

Once segments are edited, the program editor assembles them into the program sequences. The Premiere projects are all imported into one project to be laid out into a watchable show. Because all of the workstations access the same media, the Premiere project will open on any computer connected to the TitaniumZ. “It's a huge time saver,” notes Faris. “Shared storage allows us to open a Premiere project on any computer without transferring media. Those transfer times can really nickel and dime your day away. With the TitaniumZ, we can work faster, and more efficiently, cutting our time in half per episode compared to before.”

After the program is locked, it's sent to Audition for audio mix. On the audio station, the project can be opened referencing the original sound files. After the mix, the audio is exported as several different “stems” or parts of the mix, which, include dialogue, sound effects, and music tracks. The .WAV files can be bounced right to the TitaniumZ, where they can be picked up by the online editor to add to the final Premiere project.

Color correction is done on a high-end Windows PC running Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve. The program is rendered in sections as ProRes 422 or CineForm QuickTime files with EDLs out of Premiere. The colorist can then open the renders in Resolve right from the TitaniumZ. After color is finished, the sections are rendered back onto the TitaniumZ as CineForm QuickTime movies, which can be added into Premiere.

Once all the final media has been added to the program, graphics and supers are added, and the episode is rendered to 1920x1080 190mbps CineForm QuickTime movies for FTP upload. All of the original footage is stored on the TitaniumZ for the rest of the season and is then copied to external hard drives for archival.

“Working with Small Tree has been wonderful. The biggest thing we appreciate about a company is always their customer support. With Small Tree, we can call them up and talk to a real person who can walk us through anything we need. They'll even remotely troubleshoot any of our systems using screen sharing. That kind of support is really rare these days,” notes Smith.

“After just a few days, we were all working off the TitaniumZ with our existing systems and had forgotten the files weren't on the stations we were using. It's a solution that just feels natural. You forget it's there. When you don't have to worry about the technical side of things, you can focus on the creativity and the storytelling.”