For Walter Biscardi, Jr., respected post-production professional and founder of Biscardi Creative Media, one of the keys to a successful business is the ability to adapt and evolve. This mindset has been critical to Biscardi Creative Media’s continued growth, from a single workstation in Biscardi’s home in 2001, to a three person facility in 2004, and to the company’s new 6,000 square-foot studio in the suburbs of Atlanta that currently features 14 workstations covering all aspects of post-production, from ingest to editorial to sound and color.
Like many other creative professionals, Biscardi has seen tremendous changes in the industry – from technological improvements that have streamlined the editing process, to the recent ongoing shift from professionally made video content to the “average man on the street” creating video content for use on-air and online. Through it all, Biscardi has preached the importance of keeping your options open, and his recent decision to install Small Tree’s ST-RAID II 48 TB rackmount system is paying immediate dividends by allowing his team to work on projects using Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer 6 or Final Cut 7. Such flexibility ensures that Biscardi Creative Media, a full-service, script-to-screen creation company and leader in creative digital design, can handle any client that walks through its doors.
“We’re running a combination of Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer, while continuing to support Final Cut 7 because they all have particular strengths and weaknesses,” Biscardi said. “For example, Adobe Premiere Pro is capable of handling almost any format that you throw at it, while Media Composer is excellent for large projects. As such, why would we limit ourselves on the projects we work on by settling on a single software application?”
Featuring transfer rates capable of supporting 44 streams of Pro Res 422 HQ with transfer rates up to 1 GB/s and 96TB, the ST-RAID II’s ability to work simultaneously with Adobe, Avid and Final Cut was essential in Biscardi’s decision when upgrading his facility’s storage technology, especially in light of the agency’s continued growth and expected production schedule in 2012 – five original series and five documentaries.
“Everybody going with the open I/O has provided a tremendous amount of flexibility, so anybody trying to shoehorn themselves into one application is making a mistake,” Biscardi continued. “With Small Tree’s technology, we can literally launch all three applications on the same workstation at the same time – that’s how good the post-production ecosystem is right now.”
ST-RAID II is expandable, which is a huge consideration for Biscardi as he can already see the need for at least one more 48TB RAID in 2012, if not two. The ST-RAID II’s expansion chassis design will allow the agency to daisy chain multiple RAIDs off one host controller, which is super simple and economical.
In addition to selecting Small Tree’s ST-RAID II, Biscardi Creative Media installed the company’s 24 Port SFP 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch to maximize throughput across the studio’s 18 workstations.
“The cool thing about the Small Tree switch is that it allows us to run 1 Gb across all of our systems, which is all we need right now, with the option of ramping up to 10 Gb at anytime if we need higher data throughput,” Biscardi said. “Prior to switching to Small Tree, we could not lay off to tape if more than one workstation was on the server at the same time. Today, we can lay off to tape for five projects simultaneously. Now that’s performance.”
During the installation, Small Tree had to remotely “dig” into each of Biscardi Creative Media’s workstations to improve system performance. While this is typical operating procedure for Small Tree, it was out of the ordinary for Biscardi when dealing with outside vendors and something he appreciated greatly.
“Each machine has its own quirks, and the guys from Small Tree were able to adjust each machine based on its specific needs,” Biscardi revealed. “I was blown away when they told me the Mac I was working on had too much RAM. Too much RAM? How is that possible? But when they reduced the RAM I noticed an immediate difference in performance. That type of service and system know-how is invaluable.”