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No Smoke without Flame

17 May 2007

Top London facility Smoke & Mirrors has announced an investment of _2.2m in HD and tapeless kit, marking the first stage of an extensive facility-wide upgrade and expansion planned to unfold throughout 2007. The upgrade covers both London and New York sites and means the company now offers a true HD dual stream 4:4:4 environment, writes Andy Stout.

Capacity at the facility will double, ramping up from the seven existing Flame suites to 15 new faster systems – 10 Flames and 5 Smokes, all HD 4:4:4 compatible, running the latest software version and loaded with a full consignment of all the leading third-party plug-in sparks, including; Gen Arts’ Sapphire, Tinder Tools, Foundry Film Tools and Speed 6.

The suites each have a staggering 15 hours storage at SD, through Isilon storage clusters, and are linked to Autodesk’s Backdraft Conform for compiling edits and mirrored project archiving. The order placed with Autodesk at this year’s NAB conference, was the single largest the company received at the show.

“Our primary focus is on providing faster and more flexible solutions for our clients and an environment which promotes creative excellence from our team,” said Penny Verbe CEO, Smoke & Mirrors. “This is particularly pertinent with the huge upsurge in demand for HD projects we’ve experienced over the past year, both in commercials and broadcast markets. The new Smoke systems will provide us with greater integrated editing and conform capabilities, and the huge increase in storage capacity and faster network will facilitate long form and DI work in the long term.”

A key investment, providing the backbone of the facility is 70TB of centralised Isilon on-line clustered storage with single global namespace, a fully integrated InfiniBand network and HD 4:4:4 matrix for blistering, faster than realtime, transfer speeds between suites. Isilon effortlessly supports uncompressed tapeless workflows and project management via links to all edit suites, 3D work stations, HD Final Cut Pro and proprietary encoding solutions. Isilon is also linked to all SD and HD tape decks and provides a reliable flexible archiving and storage hub. Collaborative working is enabled by high speed connections between all sites and partner companies.

“We were the first facility to pioneer open architecture systems with Discreet Logic’s Flame 11 years ago, so it’s fantastic to remain committed to emerging technologies, create new workflows and continue to re-think the facility model as we move forward,” said Verbe. “The diversity of work we generate for digital agencies and that which we deliver for global cross-media campaigns has demanded we offer flexibility and adaptive resolution-independent workflows. This is something we’ve embraced as ideally suited to our way of working. The new systems will mean smoother project management and faster processing and end deliverables, leaving more time to concentrate on the creative work.”

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