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A Recurring Winner for Hollywood Award Shows

EditShare has no downtime in busy “Awards Season”

by Doug Stewart, President, DMS Production Services, Inc.

One of the most high-profile kinds of broadcast and non-broadcast productions these days is Award Shows. Spawned by the granddaddy of all awards shows, the Oscars®, there are any number of star-studded programs throughout the year honoring the accomplishments of individuals in the media. I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with the Academy Awards®, the Emmy® Awards, the ASC Awards, the SAG Awards, the DGA Awards and several others. Usually the involvement of my company – DMS Production Services in El Segundo, California – centers on preparing film packages and honoree profiles connected with these prestigious events.

Media Sharing is the New Reality

All of these kinds of shows have incredibly high production requirements and breath-takingly short delivery schedules. They typically involve working with hours and hours of media, which can include original camera footage, television shows, movies, graphics, photographs, music and narration. The execution of these assignments has always involved using non-linear editing systems with editing programs that are either Avid or Final Cut Pro.

Back in 2005, I had to relocate to different office space and it was at that time that I had begun to look at server systems that could feed my four editing systems. It’s easy to forget that not too long ago you had to laboriously digitize the necessary material into each edit system individually. Yes, it was time-consuming and alternatives were limited and expensive. Avid’s innovative Unity system was a colossal leap forward, if you could afford it. Storage devices like the Apple Raid appeared on the market and at the time, 1.2 Terabytes was really huge! But connecting a low-cost storage/server device to multiple edit stations with different software editing programs was not an option back then. Final Cut was beginning to catch on and Avid still had plenty of fans - so how could one flexibly alternate between these programs or use both simultaneously in different bays?

Someone suggested I take a look at a device called the EditShare, which was being distributed locally here in Southern California by Key Code Media. I did just that and on a hunch, I bought the system. We got it installed just in time to begin a project on the 57th Primetime Emmys for producer Ken Ehrlich. We never had the time to test the EditShare, we just started digitizing media of all kinds into it and went to work editing furiously. We never looked back. Everything worked magnificently and has continued to do so for years since.

On with the Show(s)!

Next it was on to the American Society of Cinematographer (ASC) Awards for noted DP Owen Roizman, who was the event’s producer. The ASC Awards are a Final Cut Pro client and that soon overlapped with an Avid client - The Screen Actors Guild Awards for producer Jeff Margolis. I recall being absolutely amazed when I passed by one bay working in Avid and the next one in Final Cut, all handled simultaneously by the same server! I’m still amazed at how effortlessly this happens.

Later on that first year we put EditShare in, more projects were added to the production schedule, notably for the Academy Awards® and producer Gil Cates. When we’re up to speed during “Awards Season”, it’s usually all four stations whirring away around the clock. The EditShare just simply goes about its business without a whimper.

Digitizing in either Avid or Final Cut usually takes place, at the same station with just a mouse click or two to switch between programs. Incredible efficiency, to say the very least! I have noted that EditShare also handles Adobe Premiere and other NLE systems but I haven’t had to use these programs. Another great feature is EditShare’s ability to digitize from multiple stations at the same time as well. At any time when they are not in use as editing stations, we can turn edit bays into digitizing stations - a wonderful option when the crunch is on and you have to get tons of media into the system.

It’s now almost four years since I purchased my EditShare. During this time, I’ve had one drive go bad, which merely involved putting a new one in. I did it myself in about two minutes. The original battery back-up which came with the system reached its “end of life” cycle and I’ve changed that out as well. Other than that, I have had zero problems with the system.

I do subscribe to the Tech Support Service provided by EditShare and have had to speak with them on a couple of occasions. I highly recommend any EditShare purchaser spend the extra doubloons for the Service Agreement. I’ve found their techs incredibly helpful. They tell me I should upgrade from my original Version 3 to new Version 5 software. I bought the upgrade and I have it on my shelf but frankly, everything has worked so well, I just keep putting it off. How much better can it be, I ask myself? I know there is a commitment to keep on improving by EditShare but their product is just a tank and we keep winning every battle we take on.

We just finished up a number of assignments on the recent 81st Academy Awards® for producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, a tribute to James Earl Jones for the SAG Awards and a new project for the Directors Guild Awards that honored Roger Ebert, all involving the use of the EditShare to get across the finish line. For us here at DMS, EditShare has evolved from a marvelous convenience to an absolute necessity. I simply love that box!

Doug can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Specifications

  • EditShare 3RU with 4TB storage with 1 Gigabit Ethernet connection to switch
  • 4 x Mac G5 suites (dual boot Avid Xpress DV and Apple Final Cut Pro) connected via 1 Gigabit connections to switch