Post-Production

One central storage platform for multiple clients at award winning full-service boutique Platform Post

Aiming high with the future in mind

Topic
Collaborative Post-Production Workflows
Project
PLATFORM POST
Partner
XTFX
Location
Soho, London (UK)
Challenge
High bandwidth 4K (HDR) projects from one central storage platform with additional clients on multiple OS
System used

Platform Post is a full-service boutique post house in the heart of Soho, London. Over the past 20 years they have been the recipients of multiple awards including a BAFTA, RTS Craft Award, Promax and Emmy. Platform Post’s services include (HDR) grading using Baselight, Flame and Avid Symphony, 2D and 3D VFX, design and animation as well as audio services including mixing, sound design, VO record, ADR, foley and music composition.

Platform Post has built an enviable reputation for perfect VFX-heavy work be it long-form drama or brand and ident work. Platform Post’s customers include many of the UK’s leading independent production companies such as Working Title, Lion Television, Keo Films and RDF. Recent primetime shows they have worked on include BBC Three’s This Country, to Atlantic Production’s Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure as well as a host of brand and trailer work.

Platform’s Enge Gray is one of Soho’s go-to colourists with an impressive CV. that includes over 27 episodes of the BBC’s primetime stalwart, The Apprentice, as well as grading for Channel 4’s 2020 BAFTA-winning documentary For Sama.

Changing demands

Over the past 20 years Platform Post have constantly developed and grown alongside an ever expanding and changing industry. Creative Director, John Cryer, explains, “over the past decade the company has moved on from working primarily on children’s programming to working on adult drama, factual and comedy based productions. We do a lot of VFX and Dolby Atmos work, long-form and short-form – which is all carried out by a relatively compact team.With the factual programming you often have to deal with vast amounts of media and with drama vast amounts of even bigger media to deliver 4K HDR.”

Like so many other post houses, Platform Post’s storage and infrastructure requirements have had to evolve to keep up with the industry’s ever changing demands. Adam Morton, Head of Technical Operations states, “with some projects coming in at 40TB, we didn’t have enough storage or storage that was fast enough. We wanted something bigger, something that was more scalable and robust and that could handle 4K HDR. We needed to be able to stream 4K – sometimes as RAW – across the finishing suites without any problems.”

Cryer further underscores the bandwidth challenge Platform wanted to resolve, “one of the things we specialise in is VFX and graphic-lead post production. So, our Flames and grade suites are collaborating using the same media at the same time.” A further complication was that the post house works off multiple platforms, including Linux, OSX and Windows and with all creative departments, suites and production offices requiring different log-ins and credentials.

John Cryer, Creative Director, Platform Post

The right fit

Cryer had a very specific brief, “we wanted something that could guarantee the collaboration we required between VFX and grade, something that was going to take the strain away from the operators in the machine room and make light work of all this additional media. This storage also had to be easy to navigate and use as well as being scalable so that it fits with our potential future requirements. When looking for storage we had to be mindful that we’re quite a lean company.

Cryer turned to their trusted reseller XTFX who recommended ELEMENTS and Morton was immediately onside, “there are a lot of products out there that say they do everything and what we were looking for was something that could immediately do the job, was scalable, but also user friendly. When we saw the ELEMENTS solution we were wowed by its performance and its flexibility. The way you use the interface is quite intuitive and there was nothing too complicated about it. That was a big deal for us as we have people using it with different levels of technical knowledge. It was the complete package for us and it had a good reputation.”

Perfect install

With XTFX, Morton wanted to ensure there was little to no business interruption, “we had a lot of discussions about the installation ahead of schedule to ensure we had the right specifications to match the right performance criteria and to make sure everything was configured in the way we wanted it to be. When it came to the installation day, it was quick and easy. XTFX arrived at about 9.00am and by lunchtime they’d installed and configured everything and gone through all of the online suites and put in the mount points. The install was three, maybe four, hours tops and more importantly it was incredibly hassle free.”

With better connectivity overall the new ELEMENTS storage solution gave Platform Post all the playback and media management they required from one shared point with easy access. Morton explains, “the Flames use Linux and are now all connected by 40GbE. The Macs and PCs almost all have just a 1GbE connection and are mostly used to transcode material from the RAW rushes into another codec for offline. We also use Elements to store deliverables for our clients. The whole company uses the shared storage and we can partition it for different assets – some of it is for the office, some of it is for online usage, some for transcoding and some for deliverables.”

“It was the ease of use that drew us to Elements. The fact that it does what it says on the tin. Now that we’ve got it and installed it, we’ve forgotten about it. It simply works. It makes our lives very easy.” John Cryer, Creative Director, Platform Post

Labour saving

Cryer further comments on the stresses endured prior to the ELEMENTS investment, “we’d always been mindful of transfer times or the speed of playback when linking to rushes, particularly when most of our finishing and VFX suites are client-attended. There was always a bit of media management: deleting projects to make enough space to cache locally. We’re not having to go between various pockets of storage which was quite manpower heavy. Things are now very quick, very reliable and super-solid. Now we just point at it and playback.”

“Data management has been drastically reduced.” Adam Morton, Head of Technical Operations, Platform Post
Adam Morton, Head of Technical Operations, Platform Post

Morton concurs, “before we had the ELEMENTS solution, we had separate pockets of storage, in addition to the central 81 terabytes, so it was a bit tricky to get everyone looking in the same area because of network configuration restrictions. The bugbear was being able to stream UHD – SDR and HDR – without any problems. Now we have Elements installed that has become a thing of the past because everyone’s now connected to a centralised area that they can log into and access the data they need. Performance has increased with a seamless flow of media, including straight from the RAW.”

Whatever the future holds

Cryer also has an eye on the future, ”at the moment it’s all about UHD and 4K. The performance of ELEMENTS was something we found very attractive as was its scalability. When thinking about the future we’re aware that one day we may well be working in 6K or 8K and for that we’ll need a lot more storage.”

“We wanted something not just for today but something that we could use and build upon well into the future.” John Cryer, Creative Director, Platform Post

Cryer approves of the ELEMENTS M&E-specific ethos, “because it’s a post-production tool for post-production and this is what they do. In the past where we’ve had other products and when we’ve wanted to expand on them, they say, ‘we don’t do that anymore’. It’s nice to work with a company who specialise on the industry’s current demands as well as future- proofing for what might come further down the line.

You know the life expectancy of the product and the life expectancy of the relationship will last well into the future, which means we’ll be working with the ELEMENTS family when everything is required in 8K and beyond.”

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