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Psychic Bunny Writer, Director Talks Video Production, Technology

globe-CameraLos Angeles-based hybrid media studio Psychic Bunny certainly knows how demanding the world of film production can be. In providing production, post production, motion design, and creative services for commercials, PSAs, games, and feature films, Psychic Bunny needs high performance drives that are also reliable.

Recently, Psychic Bunny writer and director Rick Castañeda joined the Rocket Yard for a Q&A session about the current state of technology in the video production industry, the future of tech, and why Psychic Bunny has trusted OWC products for nearly a decade.

Tell us a little bit about Psychic Bunny.
Psychic Bunny: We started the company in my living room about 10 years ago, believe it or not. The company has four owners now – myself, Asa Shumskas-Tait, Doug Spice, and Jesse Vigil. We wanted to tell stories, and that is largely what we do now, whether that’s with a broadcast commercial, branded content, a making-of documentary, or a feature film. And we also help other people tell their stories – providing production, post, motion design, or whatever piece of the puzzle they’re looking for. We’ve grown a lot over the years, but the aim has always been the same: Do great work, come hell or high water.

How long have you used OWC products? And what made you choose OWC?
Psychic Bunny: We’ve been using OWC for almost ten years now. We were buying a lot of hard drives, and we found that because they were the kind that turn on automatically that we were burning out a lot of FireWire ports. We also found out the hard way that if your drive malfunctions, a lot of hard drive companies will only offer to replace it, which is horrible if you’ve still got important data on it. The OWC warranty was a year longer than their competitors, and now stands at 3 years, which is kind of extraordinary. There was one incident where the OWC technician we called knew that it was the drive case that was malfunctioning, not the drive itself, so he recommended housing it in another case to recover our data while he shipped out a brand new drive. Most companies won’t let you do that without voiding the warranty. From that point on we were loyal OWC customers.

Related article: OWC Drives Help Bring Production to Life

Talk about your workflow for typical projects, small and large.
Psychic Bunny: Honestly, I could tell you our workflow and it would probably be different in a month. We’re constantly refining, and the technology is constantly changing. In addition to that each project is its own special child, with its own wants and needs. To give you an example of that, we got a feature film recently that was edited on Final Cut Pro 7, and the whole film is edited in quadrants, shot as if it was security camera footage. Usually our process involves editing in Premiere Pro and color with DaVinci Resolve. But for the color correction process on this film, that would have been too cost-prohibitive for their budget. So we used FCP’s native color correction, which is a bit embarrassing, but for making it look like “security cam” footage, it worked out perfectly, and took one-fourth the time.

When did Psychic Bunny begin to integrate SSDs and Thunderbolt gear into its workflow?
Psychic Bunny: Only in the last couple of years, as we have started to shoot and edit in 4K. The speed it adds is helpful.

How has the more powerful technology of recent years helped your company evolve?
Psychic Bunny: I think it was the technology that allowed us to start a company in the first place. Before digital filmmaking we wouldn’t have had the start-up capital to buy the cameras and editing stations needed to make the content. So in reality we owe everything to the technology. I have to remember that when I curse how much our new graphic stations cost, and how quickly they are out of date.

What are some of the specific advantages you have working in the field or at the office with Thunderbolt gear and SSDs?
Psychic Bunny: Well, we recently shot a project about Imagine Dragons with the Canon 1DC in South Korea for the League of Legends World Championship. We chose that camera based on budget, familiarity with the Canon 5D and 7D, needing a camera that was light and could be used in tight places, with a cinematic feel, and our client requiring a 4K image. What we didn’t know at first was that camera’s footage also requires a ridiculous amount of space to shoot: 4GB for 1 minute of 4K content. Between two cameras, we were shooting about 256GB of footage per hour. Without our SSDs and Thunderbolt transfer, we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the shooting and still backup the footage on two drives. It would have been impossible.

You must call yourselves ‘Psychic Bunny’ for a reason! Where do you see – or you would like to see – the technology go in the future?
Psychic Bunny: Running a business, I think you always like to see standards across platforms. I would love to see more standards that all the big players agree on, both in hardware and software. We didn’t see that with MiniDV codecs, and we didn’t see it with Blu-ray vs. HD DVD, and as a content-creator I really felt the brunt of both of those. Right now I have a huge collection of hard drives, some with FireWire 800 ports, others with USB ports, and still others with eSATA and Thunderbolt. Thank god for companies like yours that help bridge the gap by putting lots of inputs on their drives.

Anything specific you’re working on that you’d like to talk about?
Psychic Bunny: Our video for that League of Legends project just came out! It was a really special project – documenting the experience of Imagine Dragons coming to Korea for the first time and playing the opening ceremonies of the World Championship in Seoul. They’re huge fans of the game, and it was really great to capture their excitement. I can’t say enough good things about the guys in Imagine Dragons, or the folks over at Riot Games. They’re just great people who work really, really hard at what they do, and it was an honor to work with them both. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to work on a project that you know you’ll remember even when you’re really, really old. Take a look:

Be sure to check out more from Psychic Bunny at their website!

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