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