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AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House

COW Library : What Computer Should I Buy? : Terence Curren : AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House
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CreativeCOW presents AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House -- What Computer Should I Buy? Editorial


Burbank, California

©2013 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


How adding HP workstations to a previously all-Mac shop has made better business sense for one of Burbank's premiere post houses.



When I founded AlphaDogs Editorial in 2002, it was because I saw that technological trends made it possible for producers and editors to buy their own equipment and open their own facilities. We focused on providing the best technology, with an attention to personal service, and it's been a very successful formula.

We're on our fourth season of Lifetime's Project Runway and work on a spin-off, All Stars of the Runway. We had recently started working on mun2's I Love Jenni, a reality TV show that followed the late Hispanic singer Jenni Rivera, and My Shopping Addiction for the Oxygen Network. We've done editorial, audio, graphics and finishing work for indie features, commercials, TV shows and more from 20th Century Fox, BET, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, DreamWorks, Paramount, PBS, Showtime, Warner Bros., and many other networks, channels and studios.


2011 from Project Runway
Models wearing creations from Lifetime's Project Runway


Because we're attuned to technology trends, we've prided ourselves on staying ahead of the curve, from our early adoption of HD to, more recently, file-based workflows. When Apple's Final Cut Pro just began to gain in popularity in the media & entertainment business, we were one of only three facilities in Los Angeles -- Plaster City Post and DigitalFilm Tree were the other two -- that offered a workflow for it.

For a long time, I was a big Mac fan, and I relied on the Apple platform. I had to buy a PC and get comfortable with it. A couple of years later, when Avid offered a Mac version of Symphony, it became possible to have Symphony and FCP on the same computer, which was compelling. To make a room versatile so as to hold both systems held a certain charm, but I stuck with keeping Symphony on a PC.

I began to see a pattern with Apple products, and I didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about it. I saw that everyone would wait and wait for the new Mac Pro, and when it came, there was really nothing new about it.

Every Apple platform was also closed because Steve Jobs wanted to control the user experience. That worked for the consumer market quite nicely. The Media & Entertainment industry is tiny compared to the consumer market, and we weren't getting what we needed: more slots for cards, more drives, more RAM, and flexibility to go much further by tinkering to customize the system.

HP workstations let me get all the horsepower I need by adding the latest NVIDIA cards to upgrade to the most current system from Avid or DaVinci Resolve, and NVIDIA's most powerful graphics technology, which Mac doesn't support. And it's easy to work with them. I don't even need a screwdriver to change out or add a PCI card or hard drive. Simplicity adds up in our universe. I get that with the HP Z820, without sacrificing power. My Z820 also has seven hard drive slots built in, compared to four in a Mac, and supports eight times as much RAM.


HP Z820 with Avid Symphony
AlphaDogs HP Z820 set up with Avid Symphony. Click image for larger view.


SYMPHONY AND SECURITY
I first used HP workstations because of Avid, which worked closely with HP to ensure that Avid Symphony worked seamlessly. HP engineers work with Avid long before new products ship to make sure that performance gives professional customers the reliability they need.

We are now building most of our infrastructure around HP workstations. If I get an HP system that Avid has approved, I know it'll work with Avid's equipment and if there's a bug, Avid will be able to figure it out right away, because of that close professional relationship.

Of course. there's always the option to build my own PC workstations, but, from an operating standpoint, if I have a day of downtime, that costs me much more than the difference in price of building my own computer versus buying an HP.

HP also has a great warranty service; their workstations are supported like the professional products they are. In the 10 years I've been using HP products, and having nine rooms running on them, I've only had to replace two motherboards in all that time, and that was years ago -- but when they went down, HP sent someone out to replace them the next day.



Marcus Pardo, VP of Audio at AlphaDogs at his workstation. He uses the Pro Tools 10.3 HD3 system. Plug-ins are Waves Platinum Plug-ins, Waves 360, Cedar DNS One. Metering is with Dolby Digital Media Meter 2, Dorrough Hardware Metering.

Online/finishing editor Herrianne Catolos working on Project Runway, using Avid Symphony on an HP Z820 workstation.
Online/finishing editor Herrianne Catolos working on Project Runway, using Avid Symphony on an HP Z820 workstation.


A CROSS PLATFORM HOUSE
AlphaDogs Editorial is still a cross platform house. The graphics room is all Mac, using Adobe products. The two audio suites are currently Mac, but when I upgrade, I'll be installing HP workstations.

In the meantime, the finishing suites are already primarily HP workstations.

I'm not knocking Apple, but their approach just doesn't work for the M&E market anymore. We need more flexible, larger hardware systems, and that's what HP provides us.








For more stories like these, take a look at the Creative COW Magazine Special Edition, "New Dimensions In Cross-Platform Power & Productivity with HP Workstations."

Download a PDF by clicking here.






2011 HP logo This article brought to you by HP Workstations.
For more information, visit www.hp.com/workstations.

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Re: AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House
by Tom Daigon
Last July I also made the switch from Mac Pro to HP Z820 as documented below. I did a lot of research before finally deciding on the HP.

http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/hello-pc-the-journey-to-mac-and-bac...

Since I primarily use CS6, its refreshing how much power the Z820 brings to the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine. I can deal with just about any media / codec that is given to me. And for 3D programs that support GPU (I have a GTX 570 inside) the speed is amazing.

I still retain my 2008 Mac Pro for email and web duties. Having editing with SG Indigo with Avid DS many years ago, I think its wise to keep the PC off the web unless updates are needed.Why tempt Murphy's Law.

Tom Daigon
PrP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com





(Best viewed at 1080P and full screen)
HP Z820 Dual 2687
64GB ram
Dulce DQg2 16TB raid
Re: AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House
by Gustavo Mendes
I recently moved to a Win7 configuration for my Symphony setup and a could not be happier. I did not buy from HP, though, got a Dell Precision M6700 Covet Edition with lots of RAM, a Quadro K4000M card and a 10 Bit screen.

Speed is insane, and the machine is as stable as any Mac I've owned in recent years. Got myself a Matrox MXO2 Mini Max and the setup is exactly what I wanted.

I do miss rendering out to ProRes, but that are workarounds for that....
Re: AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House
by Terence Curren
Missing ProRes creation is a downside, but DNxHD is just as good a codec. The real hope for the future is the AS02 format.

http://www.amwa.tv/downloads/AMWA_Tech_Handout.pdf

Avid & AS02

Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca
Re: AlphaDogs Editorial: A Cross Platform House
by Gustavo Mendes
I'm actually finding DNXHD to be better and more reliable than some other codecs, especially because of gamma issues. Now, I have not delivered AS02 volumes to anyone yet, but there's hope for it to be broadly accepted.

But, for anyone thinking about moving to PCs, I can only see advantages and much better performance across the board.


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