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Imagine Products' ShotPut Pro and G-Technology Drives Help Deliver an HBO Stand-Up Special

3/24/2017 11:45 AM Eastern

Aaron Brenner is an Emmy Award-winning producer and director specializing in sports, reality and unscripted production and post. In the past 13 years, he has worked closely with a variety of production companies and sports teams, including the UFC, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams, the World Series of Poker and more. Seven of those years were spent working for the L.A. Kings ice hockey team, where he built and directed the in-house production group charged with producing original content for TV, the web, and social media. In fact, this production team model continues to be replicated across sports franchises today.

This conversation with Brenner is about about some of his tools of the trade and how he used them on a project with special meaning. 

Q: You’ve had a pretty successful career thus far. To what do you attribute that success?

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people on projects we’ll remember forever. Surrounding myself with talented people and the right tools for the job is key. Technology has played a huge part, and I’ve enjoyed staying up on the latest as it continues to evolve.

Q: Speaking of technology, every professional in any trade will tell you that there are certain “must-have” tools that they can’t live without. What’s yours?

For me, [Imagine Products’] ShotPut Pro offloading application is a must-have. I’ve taken it on the road with me and have used it on hundreds of projects. I’ve been using ShotPut Pro for more than eight years, and it gets better with each new version. I can’t believe we all used to copy camera masters without checksum verification!

I often use it in conjunction with G-Technology G-Drives. I’ve been a longtime user of both ShotPut Pro and G-Drives because of their speed and reliability.

Q: Why are those tools so important to you?

When the stakes are high, I can’t have any points of failure. I need software and hardware that I know I can trust right out of the box to store and back up entire shows. I’ve worked with this combination of software and hardware for years, and it has never failed me.

Q: Can you give us an example?

Rarely have I been more thankful for ShotPut Pro and the G-Drives’ reliability than on a recent project for HBO.

I had the privilege to work on a comedy special called Quincy Jones: Burning the Light. Quincy Jones (no relation to the music mogul) is an aspiring L.A. comic who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2015 and was given a year to live. Thanks to a friend’s Kickstarter campaign and a boost from Ellen DeGeneres, Jones got to realize his dream of having his own televised stand-up comedy special, which aired June 2, 2016, on HBO. 

Time was of the essence, so the show went from wish to reality in a matter of weeks. HBO signed on for the project in mid-March 2016, the show taped on April 4, and we had to deliver the show to HBO by early May. Delivering the show on time and to HBO’s high standards was critical, not to mention challenging, given the schedule. Not only that, but there was a small post editing team — just me! I was responsible for all on-set DIT followed by a quick-turn conform, edit, and delivery.

Q: How did you get it all done?

On the night of the shoot, I operated two MacBook Pro computers, each running ShotPut Pro and connected to multiple G-Drive ev RaW drives. The show was shot and recorded on seven Sony NEX-FS700 cameras. I walked away from the set with four mirrored versions of the raw media in addition to the camera masters, which totaled about 1 terabyte of video.

When transporting the files from the venue to the post suite, we used G-Drive ev drives because they are USB 3.0-enabled, so they are superfast and reliable. Back in the edit bay, I cut the whole show using Adobe Premiere Pro and a G-Technology G-Drive with USB 3.0 and 4 terabytes of capacity. I also used two mirrored G-Speed Q drives for redundancy in the edit bay. The drives were fast enough for me to cut a seven-camera production without any delay or playback stutter. 

You mentioned HBO’s high standards. Did HBO have any special requirements that influenced your decisions about workflow or products?

Aside from the tight timeline, HBO requested multiple points of redundancy. There are no do-overs in live production, so redundancy and reliability are always important, but given the circumstances of this unique project, those qualities became even more critical. Because of my long history with both ShotPut Pro and G-Drives, those products were the obvious choices for me. The G-Technology drives are fast, and ShotPut Pro’s ability to queue transfers is unmatched. With ShotPut Pro’s built-in redundancy and streamlined workflow, it kept our camera masters safe and our transfer times low.

Those were the tools that made the difference for me … on a one-of-a-kind production that made an immeasurable difference for Quincy Jones.
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