Ramy Katrib may be the busiest Hollywood executive who most people have never heard of. But if you are in the entertainment industry and you need fast technical work on a film or TV production, the chances are that he will be on your radar screen.
Mr Katrib is the CEO of DigitalFilm Tree (DFT), a post-production, creative, production and consulting company that has worked on films including Napoleon Dynamite, Cold Mountain and Where the Wild Things Are, as well as popular TV programmes such as NCIS: Los Angeles and Cougar Town.
DFT’s tech-savvy staff work with powerful computer workstations and servers, as well as new generation file-based cameras. And a variety of internal and external Seagate hard drives enable DFT to store, secure and share every shot.
"Our storage infrastructure is built on Seagate drives,” says Mr Katrib. “In addition to relying on Seagate Barracuda desktop drives, we also depend on several 15,000 RPM Cheetah drives for our mission-critical servers. We use that storage infrastructure to house all the films and TV programmes on which we are currently working.”
Storage to Spare
With storage capacities of up to 3TB, Seagate's Barracuda family of drives deliver plenty of room for downloading 1080p HD video. The drives also offer low power consumption features that reduce costs over the life of the system by up to 50 per cent over those of standard desktop drives.
Seagate's high-performance Cheetah enterprise drives, meanwhile, are a great fit for DFT's storage area network, delivering the highest field-proven reliability of any 3.5 inch drive in the industry.
All TV programmes worked on by DFT are shot in high-definition digital video. These files arrive each day (on HD tape, FireWire or flash-based drives), and DFT staff quickly copy the footage to servers. DFT staff, working in conjunction with editors from the studios, then creatively add titles, video effects, colour corrections and more. DFT usually has a week or less to complete the work — because many of the programmes will then be broadcast the following week.
DFT's storage infrastructure enables its staff to juggle multiple projects at the same time, helping them to cope with the intense deadline pressures routinely thrown at them by their clients.
“TV, relative to feature films, is much more manic,” says Mr Katrib. “Films have a much longer production schedule. TV is ‘drop-dead’, with a very, very narrow window.”
The bulk of DFT’s work is carried out on workstations that are connected to a server room that uses dozens of Seagate drives.
“Our drive performance is critical to everything we do,” Mr Katrib explains. “We work those drives as hard as possible — each one contains massive file structures. NCIS: Los Angeles, for example, is one of the most visual effects-laden programmes on TV today. Seagate storage gives us the reliability, efficiency and performance we need to handle those big files and also keep our team’s workflow moving quickly.”
Seagate’s family of enterprise-class drives includes the industry’s latest technology advancements, making them ideal for video-editing and post-production environments, says Henry Fabian, a marketing director at Seagate.
Reliability a Must
“Storage reliability is critical for video professionals, and drive performance is just as key in enabling efficiency,” Mr Fabian says. “With models that feature the industry’s fastest performance, the largest capacities and record reliability, Seagate enterprise-class drives can face the challenges of these demanding environments.”
One of the biggest competitive differentiators that DFT brings to the party, according to Mr Katrib, is its team’s cohesiveness, along with its unique blend of technical skills and creative vision. Most of DFT’s 17-member staff have been with the firm for at least seven years. That cohesiveness has helped foster a unique culture.
“A lot of us grew up together in this industry,” Mr Katrib says. “We never believed that there was a difference between technical know-how and creativity. We’ve always thought of them as the same action. The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years. It’s much more complex, and that requires people to be hyper-technical and also to problem-solve all the different creative variables that come at us every day.”
In this environment, the last thing DFT wants to worry about is its storage.
“Seagate’s infrastructure has really been the wind at our backs,” Mr Katrib says. “Those drives are very dependable.”
In addition to Seagate desktop and enterprise drives, DFT is using a speedy portable drive from Seagate to help slash the time it takes to download large video files and shuttle them between workstations. The Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 USB 3.0 performance kit delivers data-transfer speeds up to three times faster than conventional USB 2.0 drives.
“I had heard about Seagate’s USB 3.0 drive and I was anxious to give it a try,” says Mr Katrib. “The throughput for USB 3.0 outperforms both the FireWire 800 and eSATA interfaces. Seagate’s USB 3.0 drive has performed exceptionally well for us in our lab testing. The speed is just amazing. I think this is going to be a great product for Seagate, once more and more people appreciate its benefits. I know our team has been impressed.”
- By Steve Pipe