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.
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.
My Experience With Keying
While I wouldn’t necessarily refer to myself is a “Green Screen Guru”, I have my share of experience with pulling color based keys. For me is started on a Grass Valley 200 switcher in the late 80’s with the little spinning knobs you used to select and finesse the color. I remember that little chirping sound it would make as you went from one limit to the other. Just thinking about that switcher really takes me back.
In later years I worked with a Ultimatte 45 external hardware box that allowed you to pull great keys using a component signal. At the time it was a $35k box and the place I was working at would only rent it when we had a project that required it. Sometimes I would run it as part of a studio shoot to check keys as we went, but most of the time it was setup in the online suite I was in.
The difficult part about using this box was that the first few times I used it I only had a few short hours to actually learn the box. As soon as it showed up I would pull out the manual and start reading so that I could at least appear to the client that I knew what I was doing!
Years later we have tools that are so much more powerful right on our computers, and they cost a small fraction of what the original Ultimatte did, or in some cases come free with editing and compositing software. FCP Studio has some ok keyers included, but Primatte inside of Motion is actually pretty good. And AfterEffects has KeyLight, which I find to be the best blue/green screen keyer out there for what I do. It’s rare that I can’t get a good key out of keylight regardless what I throw at it.
In this After Effects tutorial I’ll show you how to make a fluttering 3D leaf effect using Zaxwerks 3D Warps plug-in. I’ll show you several tips to speed up your workflow and quicken rendering and previews with the 3D Warps plug-in. I use particles and other built-in AE effects to create a realistic scene from a still image. And I also take a look at refining motion paths with After Effects graph editor to create smooth organic motion. All this, and more in this action packed tutorial!
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.
What’s this? Production gear reviews on a post-production blog? Yup, that’s right. We’re not all just codecs and compression here at SuiteTake; we do actually put on our shoes and socks and get to shoot too. In fact, there’s nothing better to appreciate parking your rear in a comfy edit chair all day long then luggin’ production gear around on an old fashioned shoot now and then.
So yes, we do shoot here too and have come across a few nifty little production gadgets that have proved very helpful in the field: The Lite Panels Micro Pro and Chimera’s Color Correction Screens for their softboxes.