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Blackmagic Takes Zoic to Higher Level
7/28/2009

CULVER CITY, CALIF.
Just about eight years ago I helped start up Zoic. We began with 10 employees and our office space consisted of four walls, green plastic patio chairs and six fold-up tables.

I've been an integral part of Zoic since its birth, and it's been—and still is—my job to build and maintain an infrastructure from which we are able to deliver shows reliably, and with the same broadcast standards as multimillion dollar post facilities and networks. Of course, we operate with one-tenth of their budgets.

Saker Klippsten
We opened shop with just two shows. Today we've grown to 120 employees who work on 20 television series, feature films, commercials and video game content work.

To accomplish this, one might assume that we have numerous high-end compositing/editing workstations.

In reality, we've used streamlined I/O procedures and off-the-shelf hardware/software since our inception. While we do work with high-end systems for commercial sessions, we have many inexpensive, yet reliable, products behind the scenes.

4:4:4 EQUALS MANY PATCH CABLES

With the majority of shows moving to Sony HDCAM SR 4:4:4 format, a large upgrade to our I/O department was required, and one of the areas that needed special attention was routing. We'd been using patch cables for routing decks, and with 4:4:4, this meant additional patch cables. We began to price out various digital routers, and found that all of them were too expensive.

As part of our research, I contacted Blackmagic Design as I'd heard they were making progress with their mega 72-port router—the Broadcast Videohub. Our timing could not have been better. This looked like the router we'd been waiting for and I was able to get some early specs so that we could begin pre-wiring our racks and decks to drop it in as soon as it shipped.

We received their beta version and I was amazed at its performance right off the bat. And the really interesting thing is that it's less than two inches thick.

After just a few firmware updates, this beta version has been rock solid and just keeps getting better and better.

BLACKMAGIC PAVES THE WAY

In addition to our new router, we incorporated the Blackmagic Design Multibridge Pro and the Multibridge Eclipse into our design for converting from some of our older analog equipment, giving it the ability to connect to the new Broadcast Videohub. For our edit bays, we're using Blackmagic Design's HDLink to connect to our large client LCD monitors and projectors.

Throughout our facility we have supervisor workstations equipped with DeckLink HD Pro video capture cards and HDLinks for previewing content on broadcast monitors for quality checks.

The suite of Blackmagic products has truly revolutionized how work is done here today. Many times you see post companies spend piles of money on equipment, only to see it on the auction block a few years later for pennies on the dollar. By adopting products and technology from Blackmagic Design, we have gained the ability to grow smartly, instead of pouring money into technology that's rapidly outdated. What's even better is that all this gear works at 3 Gbps, which will be the next big leap for even greater resolution.

Saker Klippsten is head of engineering at Zoic Studios and may be contacted at saker@zoicstudios.com.

For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or visit www.blackmagic-design.com.

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