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Swordfish customers include some of the most innovative companies on the globe, including Sony, Google, Dolby, and Salesforce.com, as well as traditional consumer product companies. Swordfish started out small but grew rapidly, putting a huge strain on its legacy storage resources.
“We had an [Apple] Mac Mini and some direct-attached storage,” explains founder and Executive Creative Director, Matt Silverman. “After a while, we found ourselves working on really big 4K projects, with lots of RED source footage, and a bigger team... we realized that we needed a much more robust solution.
“[Our projects] involve a lot of big, heavy 3D renders of 4K resolution content... On projects like that, the processors really bottleneck, and it might take us up to 3 hours to render a frame. So we needed really powerful performance, but we also needed a system sized for our business. And whatever we came up with also had to work with all the different applications that we were running—that includes Premiere, DaVinci, Maya, Cinema 4D, Houdini, [and] RV for playback.”
Advanced Systems Group Plans Strategic Change
For help, Swordfish turned to Advanced Systems Group LLC (ASG), an integrator based out of Emeryville, CA that specializes in systems for broadcast, film, and corporate video.
“I had worked with ASG before, at another company, and I had complete confidence in them,” Silverman explains. “What they had designed and installed then was a very large Quantum StorNext system using a Fibre Channel SAN. I loved the performance we had, but I didn’t think there was any way that we could scale that kind of environment down to be practical for [a] 20-person company like Swordfish and still give us the power we needed."
StorNext Pro Foundation The Answer
ASG recommended the StorNext Pro Foundation. It combines StorNext 5 software, redundant metadata controllers, and 96TB of high-performance SAN storage in a pre-configured solution.
“StorNext Pro Foundation was designed to make it easy for a company the size of Swordfish... to combine the highest performance, the widest range of applications, and to be both simple to install and cost-effective,” says Dave Van Hoy, President, Advanced Systems Group.
The StorNext high-speed Fibre Channel connectivity solved all of the performance problems, and it let the company expand services.
“With the old system, we didn’t have the speed to bring customers in and let them be part of a client-supervised session,” Silverman adds. “But with StorNext, now we do. We can take huge files—32-bit EXR files where each frame is maybe 16 to 20 megabytes a frame—just drop them right into RV and hit play. It works perfectly in real time with no dropped frames. That means that we can offer lots more post-production services than we could before, and that means we can successfully compete with the big LA post houses.”
“My business relies on data. The bits that are on those drives is all I got. If I lose those bits, I will be out of business,” Silverman explains. “The StorNext Pro Foundation has proved to be every bit as reliable as the ASG team told us it would. The thing just works, and that’s the beauty of it. You just let the thing run in the background. You never have to turn it on. You never have to turn it off. It just goes, and it creates this amazing network for you to attach to.
“If you’re looking for a backbone for your company, there’s no better solution. The Quantum StorNext Pro Foundation is the heart and soul of Swordfish and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
Swordfish is a motion design studio based in San Francisco specializing in marketing and user experience, as well as offering a range of post-production services. Its team of directors, designers, animators, and technologists work with direct clients and ad agencies to design memorable pictures in motion.