Jan 6, 2014

APPLE RELEASES NEW MAC PRO -- Our Take On the Matter

It was just over a week ago that Apple began shipping its newest edition of its Mac Pro computer and the creative world is teaming with opinions.  We've been reading first impressions, laughed at parodies and watched reviews and op-eds like WIRED, MacRumors, The VERGE.  There's one thing in common, everyone loves it...and hates it.

We went to the Apple Store at Fashion Place in Salt Lake CIty--the new shiny story at City Creek didn't have one--last week to put it through the paces with some of our 5k footage we shot in Morocco [watch some here] in October.  That's about where anything interesting ends.  Turns out that unlike a car company that shows you the car that has every option imaginable added to wow you, Apple's stores show you the entry, base, boring model.  I think you get a clear picture.  It got more embarrassing from there.  Apple just updated it's Final Cut Pro X software to 10.1, which means it is optimized for the new steroid-infused CPU and GPU and 4k cinema, only they don't have it installed on any of their machines, including the new Mac Pro.  Our Apple business rep was rosy in the cheeks.

Now we don't use FCPX, we migrated to Adobe's Premiere Pro CS6--are avoiding CC--and are migrating again to AutoDesk's SMOKE, so even if the Mac Pro had Apple's current software we wanted to test the machine with software we use.  Well--awkward pause--we couldn't install any software on the new Pro.

That's a long story to get to the point that, we didn't get much of anything out of our hands on with the Mac Pro.  Let's move past that and get a little more hypothetical and presumptive.  And be forewarned, you probably won't learn any major revelation here, but you will walk away with one more perspective.

Digital cinema professionals don't store their digital cinema projects on their computers.  So having only 1TB of storage internally doesn't create a problem.  And with it being the newest make of SSD (solid state hard drive) it is very responsive.  Applications, searches, tasks...they all happen very <emphasis added> quickly.  What is unfortunate are a few changes that have taken place which are different and yet to be determined  pro or con.

External docs, drives and chassis offer extreme customization but  also create a mess for the workspace.  Things like SANLink and ThunderLink offer thunderbolt to fiber connectivity. Sonnet Tech, MacSales, Magma and others give you a million and one--number is not proven and maybe slightly exaggerated--ways to add and connect hardware to your edit suite.  Gone are the days of hiding it in a larger silver cheese grader box.

Now what about working on footage, photos or sorting your Word docs?  How does the workflow standup to the connectivity changes.  We have iMac's, MacMini, MBPros and MacPros connected to our of our arrays.  It is a 72TB SAN and we edit 5k footage we film with our RED EPIC.  We use thunderbolt to fiber converters, AFP and 1GbE and it all works pretty seamless.  So, having not yet hooked up a new Mac Pro, we are under the assumption that it will be a fairly simple integration.

Where we're excited is to see how quick we can get read/write speeds to our array with Thunderbolt2 and a SANLink2.  Hooked up to a Thunderlink box at 8Gb speeds we had r/w speeds floating at 750MB/s.  That's pretty quick.  Will it be faster with the new hardware?  We'll let you know.  If you don't have a SAN you would have a Pegasus2 or equivalent for individual suite work.  Even through AFP and gigabit ethernet you can share a lot of data efficiently.

Its unfortunate that Apple eliminated PCIe slots, settled for 1GbE, didn't spring for HDMI 2.0 and created Medusa...roll with the punches.

The new Pro has been proven to be upgradeable, thanks to OWC's teardown.   Companies like AutoDesk, Adobe, AVID will need to rewrite software to take advantage of 16GB GPU power and 12 core processing.  Maybe that will eliminate the need for RED ROCKET, Kona cards or the like.  But don't expect it in the first few quarters.

When we've had ample time to do a real hands on with legitimate software and workflow assets we'll write an update to this.  In the meantime, get eat a nice salad and think happy thoughts.

*images are not owned by sansom media but pulled from the sites listed [apple.com, Sonnet, Promise Technology macrumors.com, macrumors.fr, makeuseof.com, blog.gaborit-d.com, pix-geeks.com, technabob.com]

Aug 29, 2013

April ~ May ~ June ~ July ~ August

Who likes photos? Well we have plenty, to help keep your reading to a minimum, showing a bit of what we have been up to and recapping the past four and a half months, pictures and links to finished pieces below.

PF Chang/Studio Party

Tim Irwin/Beard

Rich Froning/...Who is Rich Froning? for Rogue

Chris Spealler/Athlete profile for Rogue

The wall/Studio

Reclaimed wood desk/Studio

Rich splitting logs/Who is Rich Froning? for Rogue

Dana Dolly w/ EPIC/commercial for Rogue

Dawn drive to Salt Flats/Commercial CrossFit

Shoot n Cut/Rogue at 2013 CrossFit Games for Rogue

Keeping gear light/2013 CrossFit Games for Rogue 

Interview setting/Scott Pruett Interview for Oakley

Huh? / Commercial for Rogue

Tim with custom lens hood extention

Office reclaimed / installed

Office reclaimed / installing (not us)

Interview set / Scott Pruett interview for Oakley

Interview set 2 / Scott Pruett interview for Oakley

Interview location / Ray Flores portrait (directed by Tim Irwin)

Marsdon, EPIC, Helo, Car / Commercial for CrossFit

Edit suite / commercial for Rogue

Final review / commercial for Rogue

Filming a new branding video in Boulder / commercial for APEX by Sunglass Hut

Dudes / CrossFit Games for Rogue

Mar 25, 2013


Back in October and November we were working on a hush-hush project for Rogue Fitness.  It started when Steve Sanders, a SEAL in the US Navy, wanted to go back to his childhood roots of riding dirt bikes.  But it wasn't a short cruise through the desert or hills in California, it was the legendary Baja 1000 he had his sights set on.  Rogue commissioned the documentary and off we went.

There were three main locations for this shoot; California, Nevada and of course Baja, Mexico.  We kept the film crew lean at the beginning as as the story begun to unfold, we increased the crew. Initially, on the first location, it was just Steve and I in California.  We then brought on James Masters as a producer.  James had spent nearly a decade filming and following the Baja 1000.  While James and a few production assistants were doing preproduction work during the race week, Tim, Nate and myself were in a helicopter in Nevada filming final bike prep and testing with Steve, Bill Witt, Ryan Sanders and crew.

Most of this film was shot on the Panasonic AF100 with GoPro footage for POV (point of view) and other pepper footage.  Once the race week arrived we beefed up our camera options with a wide variety of cameras.  The diversity of tech is almost comical.  We had 1 RED EPIC, 2 AF100s, 1 Panasonic GH2, 1 Canon 7D, 1 Canon 5DmkIII, 7 GoPro Hero2s and 2 iPhone 5s.

Here's the breakdown of race week.  Bret was stationed at Ensenada, Mexico--the starting line--with a 5DmkIII.  Down south we had three chase teams with a driver and a shooter.  And those teams played leapfrog down the peninsula.  We embedded Tim with Steve's chase crew and James and I shadowed them to sixty miles outside of La Paz.  Brandt, Lynden, Jon and Nate were our other two units.

After a twenty plus minute delay at the pit, Steve got on the bike at 20:00 and started his first leg of two hundred and thirty miles in the dead of night.  Steve and Bill traded the bike three times and Bill rode it to the finish.  Twenty-eight hours after the race started, and one thousand, one hundred and fifty miles later, Steve and the team finished the Baja 1000 fourth in their class. And as Steve put it, "Not bad for the first time."

If you haven't watched the series I strongly recommend it and not just because we made it.  It is really fascinating how much work goes into this race and how fast it is over.  For Steve, the question of what lights to use was a big deal since he would be spending most of his bike time in the dark.  A dark so dark people say it eats light.  They went with Rigid Industries LED lights and half way through the race Steve was completely stoked on how great they worked.

GoPro just released a new video that was shot entirely on the Hero3.  Their film complimented ours well because it focused on trophy truck driver Bryce Menzies ride during his first six hundred miles of the race and then flashes forward to the finish line. Ours focused on Steve in San Ignacio, which picked at mile six hundred and fifty.

If you watch in Steve vs Baja 1000 Episode 4 you'll see their truck narrowly miss Steve from non other than a GoPro we had mounted on Steve's helmet.  Watch for it at 7:29.  You can hear their siren screaming as they go tearing by.

We want to thank everyone who worked on this project.  A huge thanks to Rogue Fitness and their passion to not only building the best, American Made fitness equipment, but to documenting the lifestyles of the athletes they support. A big thanks to Ryan Arciero and Larry Roeseler from Team Herbst, the film units comprised of Todd, Nate, Lynden, Tim, James, Bret, Joh, Brandt, Chris and the two random guys that rode along. And thanks to Score International for putting on such a grueling race.

We've embedded the four Steve vs Baja 1000 episodes here and included GoPro's video that shows the first half of the race.  Let me just say we love how they just let the video live and breath during the race without any music over it.