G-Technology Responds with Major Changes

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As it turns out, the internet is a great way to restart communications when it seems to be all but broken down. 

Less than 24 hours after my “Boycott G-Tech” post on SuiteTake.com, I received several calls from executives at both G-Technology as well as Hitachi. The calls came in while I was editing so they went to voice mail, but when I had a chance to finally call one of them back I was pleasantly surprised that the tone of the conversation was very constructive and apologetic.

At this point I’ve had a few phone calls with Todd Etherton, who is the Director of World Wide Customer Support at Hitachi. The very first thing he said was that they were very sorry for the experience that I had with their tech support team, and that they agreed that something needed to be changed. We talked for about 10 minutes and then I asked him to call me back when they had a plan actually in place so that I could talk about it on the blog (instead of speculate about what they might do). 

The next morning (still less than 48 hours since my post hit) I get another call (again while I’m editing) and I call him back in the evening on my way home. Todd tells me that in response to my blog post, they have made a few significant changes that will alleviate a repeat experience like the one that I had. 

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Boycott of G-Technology

 

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While G-Technology has been one of my most favored and most recommended companies for well built, professional hard drives, due to a recent experience I can no longer lend my support to the company.

From the mid-2000’s G-Technology has been a leader in high quality products and service. I built my first home edit system on a stack of G-Raid drives because they not only made a solid product, but they were focused on the video pro. They didn’t just talk about data rates and drive speeds, they broke it down into editing lingo – the number of real time streams you could expect – and they guaranteed it. 

At one point I had some issues with some G-Raid drives that I had purchased, and they were always very fast to respond and in one case pre-shipped me a replacement drive even before I had sent them back the problem drive. 

For me personally, a really sold product means nothing if the company does not stand behind it with good people and exceptional customer service. And that’s where my relationship has now changed. 

Change Is Not Always Good

In February 2009 G-Tech was acquired (indirectly through Fabrik) by Hitachi. At the time I thought this was great, because for a long time Hitachi drives have been the best in class, and the most reliable drives on the market. So it seemed like a good idea. But now, two years later it appears this change in ownership has translated into terrible customer service, especially if your warranty has run out. 

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 Over the last 5 years I have spent over $25,000 on two maxed out G-Speed XL systems (around 25TB of combined space). We’re not talking about little desktop drives, we’re taking about making a serious investment in a company, especially for a small boutique post house. I was a very early adopter of the very first units they shipped in January 2007 and even did a post on SuiteTake and The Creative Cow about my experience with the drive. I was very happy with it, and just over 3 years ago purchased a second one for the other edit room. Based on my experience with the company over the years I had no worries. 

The Dead Power Supply

A funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago, however. The power supply in the newer drive system went bad and as it’s supposed to, was beeping pretty loud to get the attention of anybody within 20 feet. No big deal, things happen and after all it’s the reason why it’s built with a backup power supply. The drive was still running smoothly, but no longer with a safety net.

I filled out the on-line tech support form at G-Technology like I’ve done in the past, and a day later (mind you this is a serious problem) I get a email telling me that my unit is out of warranty. Figures, it’s always just after it expires that something goes wrong.  

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Turn Project Archives Into Real Money – BRU Producer Edition

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In my continuing effort to find a solid, reliable and affordable solution for long term archival of our editing projects, I have spent the last 12 months testing and creating a workflow for yet another product solution. Unlike when I reviewed the Cache~a a few years back (the positive review since removed from the site), I decided to spend a lot more time really running it through the paces. I learned my lesson the hard way with the Prime Cache and made changes to my review process.

The product that I’m reviewing this time is the “Edit Bay Production Desktop” software and hardware package from the Tolis Group. It has turned out to be quite the winner, and I’m excited to share our experience with it. While they do offer several different solutions of hardware/software or software only solutions (you provide the hardware), I’m going to focus on this one all in one package. It’s my feeling that this is the best fit for the small to medium sized post house with 1-5 workstations. To see some of their offerings, check out their website.

http://www.tolisgroup.com

What’s Included – Installation

What I liked about the “Edit Bay Production Desktop” package right from the onset was that it was a complete solution for your Mac. You provide a G5 tower, Xserve or MacPro computer with a open PCIe slot (must be a 8x slot), and they provide you with everything else.

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In your open PCIe slot you will install a SAS host bus adaptor. The card they provide is the ATTO ExpressSAS H680, and it was as easy to install as a video card. It’s as simple as removing the side panel of your tower and adding the card to your open slot.

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(Above is the Expansion Slot Utility that is on most, but not all Power Macs. Because the system we have the card installed on (a quad G5) does not support this utility, I took this snap from a different computer in the office just to show the utility. So don’t be surprised that in this shot the ATTO card is not listed. This utility allows you to configure the speed of your slots by dividing up the bandwidth in whichever way best suits your setup)

Once booted up, you install a driver for the ATTO card from the included CD, reboot again and the card is ready for use.

After that, turn the machine off and attach the LTO drive. Depending on the package that you choose, you will receive either a LTO-4 or LTO-5 drive. Both are HP drives in a external case. We have the LTO-5 drive.

With the LTO drive attached and the machine booted up, install the BRU Producer Edition software (from here on referred to as BRU PE) . This is really the heart of the product and is written for OSX specifically. Installation is as easy as mounting the included CD ROM or downloaded .dmg disk image and running the installer. Now you’re ready to start.

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Digital Production Buzz Interview – Growing Your Business

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Last night I was a guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan and Michael Horton. We discussed my last blog post on growing your business.

If you don’t regularly listen to the Buzz it’s a great resource for post production professionals, and keeps you up to date on the latest news and what others are doing in the business.

Click here for the Interview Excerpt

Click here for the Full Show

Adding New Services In A Shrinking Economy

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When the economy tanked in late 2008, I was forced to look at my business and figure out how to best combat the severe downturn in revenue. We have primarily offered post production services since opening in 2004, but what happens when there’s not enough post work to keep the rooms busy? Aside from the obvious solution of trying to increase the client base, there is also the option of adding other services so that you get a bigger piece of the overall project pie. Think of it like being in the stock market. All of my “stock” has been invested in doing post work. That’s great during the good times, but being more diversified will help when things are slow.

So throughout 2009 we’ve added a few new services to help us retain a larger chunk of every project we do.

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Work On Your Business, By Working On Yourself

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I’ve been very fortunate in business. Since I first started Edit Creations in my basement in 2003 I’ve been blessed with having multiple clients follow me into business based on our work history together and friendships. And over those years, word of mouth has filled in the rest of the time. Within the first 5 years business grew from me working in my basement to having a 2000 sqft office with multiple edit rooms, vo booth, graphics, travel gear and 4 employees. Things were going great. Then, the fall of 2008 hit.

At the end of 2008 work dried up and 2009 was the most difficult year since the business was started. During this time a few things happened that changed the way I looked at my company.

First, I didn’t lose any clients. I still had the same clients that I’ve been working with for years, in some cases close to 15 years. The problem was that those clients were no longer getting the jobs they used to. Projects were being scaled back, rescheduled or flat our cancelled. In one case a job that was normally 4 weeks of editing in 2 suites (a job that we received every December running into January) just went away and has not yet returned.

Second, for the first time in my career I was faced with having to find new clients. Two years ago I would have said you were crazy if you told me to go out and find new clients. I was already working 10+ hours a day and the thought of looking for more work seemed like self abuse.

Third, I realized that you can’t count on jobs that are promised to you, even if you have a long standing relationship with those clients. For example, in 2009 there were no less then 3 major jobs (one a broadcast TV series) that were promised to us. In one case actually scheduled for the last half of 2009. “Great!” I thought, the year is covered! The pressure is off! And then, one by one the projects just went away, in large part due to the economy. So I was left with open edit suites and very little work to fill them, but the same overhead as if it was business as usual.

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