Aardman Animations Buys Third Sledgehammer HD!O File Server

Bookmark and Share

Fri, 09/05/2008 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Aardman Animations has taken delivery of its third Maximum Throughput Sledgehammer HD!O file server and real-time multi-format video device. XFTX a Maximum Throughput reseller based in London is providing sales and integration support for the project.
Aardman Broadcast and Commercials a division of Aardman Animations will incorporate the new unit into its existing production workflow at its Gas Ferry Road facility where it will be exclusively used for the production of TV commercials.   The new Sledgehammer HD!O and its built-in MAXmedia application will be used at several stages of the stop frame animation production process multi-tasking as a DDR playout system high-performance NAS file server for edit bays as well as a format conversion and media processing and assembly solution.  According to Ian Fleming head of production technology at Aardman Animations compatibility with Final Cut Pro for off-line editing and a sharp reduction in rendering time makes Sledgehammer HD!O the ideal choice for its TV commercial production workflow.   Aardman Broadcast and Commercials has realized similar workflow efficiencies using its two other existing Sledgehammer HD!O in its production workflow for broadcast television series including the popular TV series Wallace & Grommit.
“Sledgehammer has infinitely improved the efficiency of our broadcast production workflow and we estimate that utilizing Sledgehammer in our commercial workflow will translate to a 25-to-30 percent reduction in time spent rendering and performing other tasks ” says Fleming. “Sledgehammer acts as a hub in our workflow performing multiple tasks along the way and directly interfacing with Final Cut Pro systems for off-line editing.  The ability of Sledgehammer to play out native media in real-time directly into our Final Cut Pro systems eliminates time spent rendering at that stage of the workflow.  The result is a much quicker throughput and a more efficient overall operation.”
 In the TV commercial production workflow Aardman Broadcast and Commercials will first use the Sledgehammer HD!O to play out HD 4:2:2 still frames in the .DPX image sequence format and create “on the box” SD proxies by applying Sledgehammer’s on-the-fly image format conversion and cropping/resizing tools.  The proxies are used by Final Cut Pro for off-line editing and then Sledgehammer HD!O would EDL conform the shots using the original HD .DPX files. 
Fleming adds that the shorter time scale for project turnaround in the production of commercials makes Sledgehammer’s efficiency critical to the operation. 
  “Production of commercials is far more intense than in long-form broadcast TV programming ” says Fleming.  “When in production we can write the digital media directly to the Sledgehammer storage play out the media in native form into Final Cut Pro and return to Sledgehammer to conform the media to XML or EDL.  This is a huge time-saving benefit because there is no need to convert the files to QuickTime ahead of transporting the media to the off-line editing process.”
Fleming adds that Sledgehammer’s interoperability with its media management network allows for instantaneous review of commercial dailies from the studio floor which assists with the quick turnaround time required in the production of commercials.  He also expects Aardman will investigate the possibility of networking all three of its Sledgehammer HD!O systems for the purpose of migrating image sequences from commercial to broadcast projects and vice versa.
  Maximum Throughput www.max-t.com