Halo Heralds a New 4K ERA

ERA Case Study - Halo

“We wanted to avoid proprietary technologies or restrictive and expensive infrastructures and it quickly became clear that PixStor was what we needed on every level. Its performance is very high end, without breaking the bank, and we have almost unlimited room for expansion as interest in 4K – and possibly beyond – continues to grow.” ~ Daniel Napier, Technical Director at halo

Background

As a two-time winner of the Broadcast magazine “Best Post-Production House” award, halo Post Production, based on Noel Street in the heart of London’s Soho, has never rested on its laurels, and is in fact shortlisted for the same award in the 2017 Broadcast nominations. In addition to meeting the award criteria of being a post-production house that provides outstanding service, delivers quality results under tight deadlines, and provides creative solutions for programme makers, halo is also consistently adding editing suites and mixing rooms all while embracing the latest technology.

Recent halo post production credits include the feature films The Danish Girl, Bear Hunt and Nocturnal Animals.  Dramas include Doctor Thorne and The Missing 1 and 2; documentaries including Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough for the BBC Natural History Unit, Forces of Nature, and the television comedies Murder in Successville, Upstart Crow and Toast of London.

However, when halo wanted to enhance its 4K capabilities to meet increasing market demand for such facilities, it realised that its existing storage system would not readily be able to cope with the increased pressure that 4K production would place on its existing workflow infrastructure.

Halo therefore turned to ERA to design and implement a solution based on its experience and reputation as the leading IT-solution specialists for the creative industries.

Implementation

After a number of site visits to ensure complete understanding of the existing workflow infrastructure and precise aims of halo, ERA and halo agreed that PixStor software-defined storage system from Pixit Media was the right solution to ensure perfect playback on multiple 4K workstations and complex VFX workflows. Because PixStor provides scalability and predictable performance without relying on proprietary hardware, it enables content creators at halo to efficiently manage vast amounts of data by combining in a single platform the performance of SAN-based solutions with the manageability of a central NAS.

Benefits

One of the benefits of PixStor solution to organisations such as halo is that it runs effortlessly on best-of-breed, OTS components, which delivers considerable capital cost savings coupled with an unprecedented ease of maintenance. On top of that, PixStor is extremely sophisticated, performing at a level high-end houses such as halo expect for demanding file-based, multi-resolution media work.

Today

PixStor now supports six real-time 4K clients for halo, including Nucoda grading systems, Flame VFX and Avid Media Composers. There are also two 4K conform and I/O stations. A separate workflow supports an additional 20 2D/3D clients and multiple render nodes within the same logical storage space. The network fabric was architected using lossless, non-blocking Mellanox IP cores of 40GB or 10GB dependent on client connections. Prioritisation across the network guarantees performance levels for specific users, while ensuring smooth, seamless data delivery to all network clients.

Summary

“ERA’s in-depth knowledge of how we used, and needed to use, our applications was invaluable in laying down the virtual asphalt for our UHD highway,” added Napier. “Their practical experience and honest, consultative approach were the keys for creating a central storage resource that we know we can rely on to deliver even the most demanding raw formats now and in the future. It makes all the difference, and provides levels of comfort and confidence that are too rarely found in the race to the future.”

Halo’s state-of-the-art 4K finishing facility is now one of the finest in London and combines world-class creative talent with a comprehensive range of award-winning grading, sound, and editing services underpinned by a storage solution from ERA that provides the benefits of value, availability, reliability and leading edge technology that is consistently sought by facilities like halo.

Halo’s Napier concludes, “We wanted an advanced storage solution that would enable us to provide the highest quality of service to our customers and expand our already considerable, award-winning creative services, and we got one. With ERA’s guidance, we arrived at the correct answer in PixStor.”

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