Our recent guest Robbie Carman of Amigo Media shared a lot  of insight into the world of professional film and video.  He also wanted to give you an idea of what his work environment looks like.“Well I like gear!  In reality my gear is separated into several categories,” said Carman.  “A decade ago, the color correction systems that were in use were between half a million to a million dollars.”

Fortunately the prices have fallen significantly.  There's still a lot of gear, but things have gotten a lot more affordable.
Suite Setup:
“In my room, all my gear is centered around monitoring and control,” said Carman.  “ A reference monitor lets me ensure I know with 100% accuracy what shots really look like.”

Robbie runs DaVinci Resolve so he has the full set of panels from Blackmagic Design.  The control surface makes it much easier to quickly dial in fine adjustments and crank through hundreds of shots in a work day.

“The large control surface gives me tactile control over nearly every parameter in Resolve,” said Carman. 
“As a color critical room the environment is very important. You don’t want anything in the room to distract you from the most important thing - the image on the monitor.  So, in my room the walls are a calibrated neutral gray.” 
Flanders Scientific Monitors (FSI) are the backbone of our facility providing outstanding reference quality images at an affordable price.  We use the FSI 2461 LCD reference monitor in many of our rooms and bang for the buck there is no better monitor in my opinion.”

At Amigo Media, Robbie and his team use several different brands of monitor technology.  This is because the shows he works on will play back on devices ranging from movie screens to iPads.

A new addition is the SONY BVMF250 OLED reference monitor. In his opinion, this is about as good as reference monitor gets. 
“While very expensive, this display has black level performance that exceeds even CRT displays and great accuracy,” said Carman. “I believe OLED is the future of reference quality displays, but need to be able to check our work on LCDs (FSI) as well as Plasma and now on emerging technologies like OLED so thats why we have so many displays!.”
The reference monitor is flanked by two Samsung monitors. One handles MAC UI the other PC UI. The PC one is usually showing the Blackmagic UltraScopes. He can switch the right one via a KVM switch to show Mac Desktop too.
“I also have back lighting behind the monitors.  This lighting has a 6500K color temp and the bulbs themselves have a very high CRI (color rendering index) value of 98.  The lighting is neutral and since its behind the monitors it reduces eye strain for long sessions.”
Machine Room Setup:
Working on network television shows requires using the highest-quality video files.  As such, Amigo Media needs a ton of storage and a solid workflow to manage all of the assets.  Shows need to spin up quickly and jobs that are “done” often come back to life for more changes.  

“All of the gear in our machine room is the heart and soul of what we do — computers, and storage but also traditional video gear to do things like standards conversions, recording to tape, etc.”
Storage Workflow:
Amigo Media uses a three stage storage workflow. They need a high performance SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) system to push high-data rate video to several rooms.  This is reinforced with a Drobo Pro for near-term storage and a LTO-5 drive for long-term storage.
  • Sonnett Fusion RX1600 Raid48TB of online (active) storage with RAID is closer to 40TB. Its direct connected via SAS to the Mac Pro. It gets Reads of about 1800MB/sec and Writes of about 1300 MB/sec. This is the drive that Robbie works from most of the time.
  • Drobo Pro: “I use this as near term storage. A week or two after a project closes, it gets moved to the RAID. It’s got 16TB of raw storage that comes out to about 11-12TB. It’s directly connected to the Mac via iSCSI.”  Amigo plans to enhance this unit with the new Drobo 5D which offers Thunderbolt speed and similar capacity with 3TB and 4TB drives now available.
  • Quantum LTO-5This is the final resting place of projects and media. Its LTO-5 so it gets about 1.5TB per tape. It‘s connected via SAS to controller card in the PC. 

“Drobo gives me high capacity volumes that are data protected with Drobo's Beyond RAID technology.  With projects sitting on the near term storage for a few weeks to a few months before I move them to LTO tape its nice to know that even if a drive fails my data is safe,” said Carman. “Additionally, I love the hot swappable approach that the Drobo uses — so if I need more capacity I just pull a drive and put in a larger one and the Drobo doesn't skip a beat.”

Other Gear:
To round out the rest of Robbie Carman's workflow, he uses technology from several manufacturers.
  • Mac Pro: Runs DaVinci Resolve and other Mac Apps. Its a 2010 top end model 48GB of RAM. SSD Boot Drive. Internally it has a GTX285 graphics card to run DaVinci UI. Also has BMD Decklink Extreme 3D I/O card for dual and 3G SDI in and out (this is patched on our patch bay), SAS controller for direct attached Sonnett RAID. 16x Cubix expansion PCI card to attach Cubix Desktop4. Monitor out from GTX285 goes to my room via DVI to Cat 5 extender
  • HP WorkstationThis box runs BMD ultrascopes and is also the host for SAS controller for our LTO backup
  • Cubix Desktop 4: This is a PCIe expansion box. It is direct attached to the Mac via the 16x Host card in the Mac Pro. It gives Robbie 4 Double Width 16x PCI slots. It currently has 3 NVIDIA GTX 580s. These cards power processing in DaVinci Resolve for HD, 2k, 4k, 5k and 3D. Also in the box is a RED Rocket for real-time debayering of RED 4K footage.
  • OWC Blu-ray BurnerConnected to Mac Via FW for making Blu-ray discs for clients and the occasional backup.
  • Blackmagic Teranex 2D ProcessorFor standards conversions to prepare files to use in different countries or frame rates.
  • Blackmagic Hyper Deck StudioDual-bay SSD recorder. Essentially a deck replacement. Can record ProRes, DNXHD and Uncompressed video formats.
  • Harris DL-860SDI Hardware legalizer. Its an essential piece of kit for broadcast work. It ensures that the video signals match the required signals.
  • Blackmagic SmartView HD: A great little LCD monitor for the machine room to ensure signal flow etc.
To learn more about Amigo Media – click here 
Follow Robbie Carman on Twitter.
2/22/2013 10:04:45

Thank you to Robbie for allowing us to have a peek inside your work area.

2/24/2013 10:12:51

Wanna color my short? Haha.
Set in the 70s, west Texas, drama love, Arri Alexa... David(dot)Redish(at)gmail(dot)com

2/25/2013 15:19:18

Wow! Although I'm not in the least surprised that you have this amazingly sophisticated setup, as I read the article I got more and more discouraged. I'm just an enthusiast videographer with a Panasonic GH2, GH3, several prime lenses, s small crane, a small slider, ONE monitor, and CS6 Production Premium. What hope is there for people like me?!

Robbie Carman
3/7/2013 00:46:01

Ann - Don't get discouraged! This is what I do day and day out at a high level and nothing really else so it makes sense for me to invest in the equipment etc. It takes time to build up equipment and capabilities and from your description sounds like your doing quite well! With CS 6 you have Adobe SpeedGrade, Premiere and After Effects all places where you can do high level grading. The only thing you might want to look to investing in is a color critical monitor like an FSI 2340 and an I/O device form BlackMagic or AJA. With that your rocking and rolling!

3/10/2013 13:26:11

This is great Robbie, thanks for sharing. Do you have any sort of SAN for your facility? I want to build something very similar, but might need to sacrifice a slot for a 10GbE card.

3/11/2013 16:37:23

I'm curious about the High CRI 6500k room lights. What are you using. I've been trying to do something similar, but haven't found anything I like

8/27/2013 03:16:57

power technology is most important for everyone. use new technology in the power saving we can incresed the economy rate of country.your collection of pic is nice.i like machine room setup.thanks for providing commenting option.

10/28/2013 08:44:47

Online reading is not my thing. But after reading your blog I am really pleased. I don’t know about other blogs but this I will definitely keep coming back to.

11/8/2013 17:24:06

It feels awesome to read such informative and unique articles on your websites


nice posts

11/2/2015 13:26:29

Thanks for the great run-down of your color suite. Very curious to know what kind of lighting Robbie uses to illuminate behind the monitors. 98 CRI is outstanding!

12/5/2015 04:10:09

Great work!


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