Eggplant Picture & Sound is a full-service post production facility and creative studio located in downtown Toronto. Since its inception in 1996, it has been a unique and dynamic destination, offering a combination of video, audio, motion graphics, animation and VFX. We spoke with Joseph Murnaghan, Systems Administrator at Eggplant Picture & Sound, about their experience using Amulet Hotkey PCoIP technology and Leostream for secure remote access.
What is your current setup using Amulet Hotkey and Leostream?
CineSys supplied six Dell Media Composer workstations with host cards and zero clients for the Avid editorial teams, along with Leostream gateway access. We tested the software client and the editors felt the experience was better over the zero client. CineSys set up the gateway and broker offsite, I racked and wired it up. We had an onboarding and the engineer went over the host card and zero client set up and I followed up on the rest of the systems.
Are the editors located in Toronto?
They were located in Toronto and Hamilton as offline editors on a couple of shows for Lambur Productions. We did the dailies here and put them onto our Avid Nexis shared storage and they connected via zero client. Once locked, we conformed in DaVinci Resolve to trim camera masters online and graded in Mistika.
Once we had editorial running smoothly CineSys helped us use Leostream to be the broker for HP RGS as well. Mistika uses HP Z-Series workstations, so we were able to install RGS on the HP stations with the Leostream agent. We had some extra licences that we could use for this, so we set it up for the graphics team who have HP Z620s. It’s so much snappier than the software remote we rolled out in 2020.
How did these setups work out for the editorial teams?
They were using three screens: two screens for editorial and one screen for full screen playback. They wanted to use high resolution displays and I think one editor got it to work even though it shouldn’t have. Ideally, two 1440p monitors would allow optimal space for Media Composer and he was able to run his fullscreen monitor at 720p, which was technically not in the specs, but it worked. It would have been better to use two host cards that would support two UHD monitors, but that’s a bit overkill for offline editorial. This was in late June 2021 and supply shortages were kicking in and we were lucky to even get the parts. Everyone wanted to work from home at that time.
Have they experienced any lag issues?
It’s been pretty good. We dedicated a 1 Gbps line to the PCoIP traffic, so it’s not being shared with anyone doing uploads or deliveries here. Once in a while there was a local problem, but most of the time it was just a matter of home internet connections rebooting routers, being aware that other family members are sharing the bandwidth. We tried to take one variable out of the situation by serving it from a fibre line. An editor was just down the street in a condo and they were getting 7 ms latency, because they were on the Beanfield network with us. The furthest away editor was north of Hamilton and he was at 30 ms reliably after the upgrade.
What type of projects were they working on?
This was dedicated to two offline editorial jobs for Lambur Productions. One was an editorial for Hardy Boys season 2, which launches on Hulu in 2022. The other was Take Note, which is a live action family entertainment show that launched on Peacock in the US and on the Family Channel. It’s like The Voice, but we see it from the contestant and audience sides in the same scripted show.
Do you have a lot of staff back at the office now?
I’m here every day, as my IT related tasks are pretty physical. The audio team is pre-mixing at home in advance. Some can mix, but not everyone has the space, or the setup to do it at home. When done they come in and review in the studios. When people can work from home, they work from home. Mark Driver, our Senior Colourist, has Mistika Boutique at home and he can open the same projects at home and work with proxy media on a broadcast monitor connected to a DeckLink card on a PC, grade, and then bring that same environment in and re-link it to the source media on the shared storage. He can also work remotely over RGS. He was rendering outputs and then the delivery team put everything together for packaging and upload. We use Sohonet ClearView for review.
How was the implementation and support process?
CineSys was great. They would reply whenever something weird happened and remote in to help. A couple of months ago, we made a change for a security fix, but it didn’t get applied right. We had a power shutdown and on restart the broker was not functioning. Amazingly, the support engineer was able to hop on and figure it out on a Saturday. Overall we haven’t needed much help, it’s super stable.
”Using the hardware boxes definitely is a super responsive solution. Especially if you need three monitors. I don’t think you’ll get the same experience if you go with a software based method. Leostream together with the hardware box made it completely seamless.Joseph MurnaghanSystems Administrator, Eggplant Picture and Sound
Leostream works seamlessly with Teradici Cloud Access Software and PCoIP Remote Workstation Cards, providing high-quality graphics for applications running in the datacenter or cloud. The Leostream Connection Broker allows IT to pool, assign, and manage all PCoIP devices in their organization from a single interface.
About Amulet Hotkey
Amulet Hotkey’s powerful remote access solutions ensure your readiness to respond to changing requirements, providing a production and post production infrastructure that can be scaled at will to suit demands and opportunities. Agile infrastructure designed to enable a distributed team to work and collaborate from anywhere in real time minimizes productivity losses, opens up the freedom and creative opportunity to hire the best talent in every function without concern for location, and ensures all resources are always available to all.