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Documentary Film Makers Take TitaniumZ-5 Shared Storage on the Road

Traveling to remote parts of Kenya while working on Shifting Ground, a documentary film following three women living in the slums of Nairobi, film makers at Seek Films and Ethikos Productions used Small Tree’s GraniteSTOR TitaniumZ-5 shared storage system to provide the entire production team with on-site access to content captured on location.

Following a young girl, a teenage mother and an elderly woman living in the slums of Nairobi, three directors will interweave their stories into a full-length documentary showing a portrait of the slums through the eyes of these women and how women are at the center of a new movement taking place within the slums and the community. An all-in-one Ethernet-based shared storage appliance typically used by professional video editors who require shared access to media files at home, in the office or on location, the portable TitaniumZ-5 was an ideal solution for the Shifting Ground production team during acquisition.

“While in Africa, we were mainly using the TitaniumZ-5 to take footage off of the cards – we were shooting on the Canon C-100 with Atomos Ninja 2 external recorders,” said Daphne Schmon, director and founder of Seek Films. “With the Z-5, we would offload footage from three to four cards at a time, then log and transfer the footage into Final Cut so that multiple workstations could have access to view footage simultaneously. Having a lightweight and robust storage system with us was a tremendous convenience.”

A five-drive system supporting 2TB, 3TB or 4TB disk drives, TitaniumZ-5 is simple to set up and manage, allowing the storage to be available to users within minutes of initial start-up. The Server, Networking and Storage are all accommodated within TitaniumZ-5’s space saving desk top design, while the unit’s capability to support up to 2 ports of 10Gb Ethernet offers peak performance all at an extremely attractive price point.

“From a technological standpoint, it was great to have an affordable storage solution that would provide redundancy to protect the files we had captured,” remarked Brian Rice, director and founder of Ethikos Productions. “The data on the Z-5 is double protected, which is extremely important because with the long trip from New York to Kenya, and then having to move from location to location in Kenya, it was crucial that the data was protected while the system was being knocked around.”

Small Tree’s TitaniumZ-5 offers optimal flexibility with the ability to work across multiple protocols (AFP, SMB, NFS and iSCSI) and platforms, including Adobe Creative Suite, Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro 7 and Apple Final Cut Pro X.

“The system’s flexibility was vital, as Brian works from Windows, while the rest of the directors work with MacBooks,” Schmon stated. “In our facility in New York, where the Z-5 will be used during video-editing, we’ll be running Mac Pros and a number of MacBook laptops. Additionally, we may use both Final Cut 7 and Final Cut 10 during post-production. Knowing that we’ll be able to work off the Z-5 seamlessly, regardless of the application or platform we use, is one less thing we need to worry about.”

While ease of system set-up for the Z-5 is among its top benefits, upon arrival in Kenya, the Shifting Ground production team needed assistance from Small Tree to configure the unit so that it would meet their specific requirements. The Small Tree team in Minnesota worked via Skype to help the film makers set up their storage system. According to Rice, exemplary tech support demonstrates Small Tree’s commitment to its customers.

“When the device was shipped to us it was configured in a very specific way,” Rice remarked. “The guys at Small Tree were so knowledgeable and were willing to work with us until they had us up and running. For me, that was huge…knowing that not only do we have a solid solution, we also have the support if we need it.”

For more information about Small Tree and its growing line of shared storage and networking products, visit Follow Small Tree on Facebook at or on Twitter @SmallTreeComm.