The Product Factory

Producer Marvels at EditShare

The Product Factory demands collaboration and reliability – and finds it.

“When you are as busy as we are, you need to know that the support you are going to receive from equipment suppliers is totally reliable.”

That’s how George Rizkallah, Founder and CEO of Burbank-based post-production facility The Product Factory, sums up why he has switched to EditShare as his shared storage solution.

“In the early days, we had just three edit bays and a simple fibre-based SAN. Over time, the SAN solution we implemented became quite unreliable and crashed on a regular basis. Although the company that made that SAN software had a sales office in North America, the senior support team was based in Bulgaria. Their staffing hours and time difference made it impossible to access support services when needed.” The 9-hour time difference meant that George would often have to come into his facility at 4am local time to receive a repair patch from the manufacturer. “The Product Factory was designed to help filmmakers and artists take full advantage of what the newest technology has to offer,” explains George. “Clearly, then, the technology has to work – every time. I built the company based on quality and reliable service, and the manufacturers we rely on have to deliver on both.”

Moving Into Animation

George founded The Product Factory in 2003 after editing everything from reality shows to trailers. Shortly afterwards he made contact with the person who would later become the head of a major animation TV and film studio. “Those projects had to all be delivered in HD and were all animated and at that time I had done neither,” states George. He worked closely with AJA Video Systems and went HD in 2004 while teaching himself and his then skeleton crew, the art of animation post production. Today, around 85% of The Product Factory’s business is based on animated productions. The company’s major clients include Marvel, Disney, Nickelodeon, Film Roman/Starz and many others.

“We are not involved with shooting the films and gathering footage like many other post companies,” explains George. “We use storyboards that have been supplied by the client. We edit them together and then add music and dialog to create animatics of each film or tv episode. This content is then sent overseas – often to India, Korea or China - for the animation work. Then it comes back to us for final edit, visual effects, finishing and mastering to HDCam SR.”

The complexity of these projects is often more then meets the eye as anyone who is a fan of the Marvel line up can tell you. “The devil is in the details and our fans are always looking at the details” says George.

To cope with the work undertaken by The Product Factory, the 4200 square foot facility is equipped with six Mac-based edit suites using a mixture of Final Cut Pro 7 and Avid Symphony 7. Adobe Creative Suite is also employed in the visual effects and title designs. Centralizing the content is a 160TB EditShare Energy solution.

Storage is Essential

“A good shared storage system is a necessity if we are to maintain an efficient workflow,” states George. “So when we were having so many problems with our initial system, I turned to a good friend, Kenny Martin of DVSERVE, for some advice.”

Texas-based Systems Integrator DVSERVE immediately saw that EditShare would solve George’s problems. Not only was the equipment fast, secure, and stable, the support was on hand and totally reliable.

The two EditShare shared storage servers at The Product Factory are part of an Extreme Scalable Architecture (ESA) group – providing one pool of storage. “EditShare offered the 4 S’s we needed: Security, Support, Stability and Speed. All are essential for our clients and our business.”

EditShare ESA is an architecture that allows customers to increase their storage to hundreds of terabytes and beyond. With ESA, additional "expansion servers" can simply be plugged into the existing EditShare network. The first EditShare is configured as a "super server" that can then manage an unlimited number of "expansion servers". Administrators manage all storage through a single unified GUI, with users unaware that there are multiple servers on the network.

EditShare ESA is designed to give customers the ability to keep up with their storage requirements, and at the same time, provide increased bandwidth, allowing a greater number of users to work from centralized storage.

Workflow That Really Works

“The beauty of the EditShare system is that several editors can work on the same project at the same time. For example, if there are any retakes on the animation, the producer and director can review the material, while in another edit bay, work can continue on other segments of the same program.”

This project sharing capability creates an effective and highly efficient workflow – and George continues to enthuse about the EditShare experience. “The system works with a remarkably high level of reliability. However, when we have needed to contact EditShare with a technical enquiry, there has always been someone there to answer our questions – and to stay on the phone until we have a satisfactory resolution of the query. That’s the marvelous level of service you expect from a truly professional organization.”