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‘This is a Sports Car’: Village Studios Slices Production Time with OWC ThunderBlade

(Nicolas Cage on the set of Grand Isle, which utilized the OWC ThunderBlade on production.)

Time is of the essence for Village Studios Chief Technology Officer Scott McLeslie. And with growing file sizes from 8K shoots, moving this massive amount data has become a major time thief for movie studios. But for the production of the studio’s latest films, including Grand Isle starring Nicolas Cage, McLeslie found a secret weapon. 

In order to maximize his time on set and get dailies over to the director as quickly as possible, McLeslie and his crew rely on the OWC ThunderBlade. The ThunderBlade is the fastest OWC drive with data transfer speeds up to 2800MB/s, making it ideal for the rigors of an intense on-location shoot that requires constant shuttling of data from set to studio.

“We were driving a carriage before… this is a sports car,” McLeslie says of the fastest drive available to his team. “I used to spend at least an extra two hours on set because we can’t leave without having at least two separate copies – and not just two separate copies – I’m talking to separate copies with checksums checked. Because of the speeds of this device, I’m not the last person to leave the set.”

This kind of speed not only saves producers’ time, but it also saves money on production. By cutting the man-hours required for production with its offload speeds, the ThunderBlade slices budgets, freeing up capital for other aspects of the film.

Jake Seal, CEO of Village Studios U.S. and Black Hangar Studios U.K., credits OWC with providing the “game-changing” speed for production on both Grand Isle and the Ethan Hawke-directed biopic Blaze. Filming on Blaze spanned multiple territories in the U.S. and Europe simultaneously, while Grand Isle presented its own challenges.

“On Grand Isle, we were doing rushes and as soon as they’re out of the camera, they were automatically being transcoded and going up into the cloud, straight down to the edit system,” Seal said. “And at lunchtime, the physical 8K – two, three, four cameras were being delivered because we have such incredible offload speeds being backed up automatically to the incredibly fast [ThunderBlade] RAID. So the connectivity that OWC allowed us to have and the speed of the drives, and the incredibly robust and stable platform was absolutely game-changing.”

Another crucial aspect of the ThunderBlade’s performance for McLeslie is its quiet fanless operation as noise can be as big of an issue on set as wasted time.  

“As an engineer, I always dream of developing something that would change the process, make it easier for me,” McLeslie added. “The thing you notice at once, there’s no fan – it’s the quietest thing. You can stick it next to the camera and that’s it – no problem for sound whatsoever.”

The fact that the ThunderBlade quietly performs as the fastest drive McLeslie has ever used has kept his team on track, on budget and on time.

“We’re in shape and we’re looking really optimistic and that’s mostly because we don’t have any problems with offload whatsoever thanks to you guys.”

Find out more about the OWC ThunderBlade and how it can fit your workflow here.

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