Animation Advantage

Posted on Dec 18, 2017 by Julian Mitchell

Tom Box’s BAFTA award-winning Blue Zoo Studios in London is a major animator for children’s television; Samsung’s new Portable SSD T5 drive is helping him spread the word

An area of video production and post-production where we haven’t yet placed a Samsung portable SSD drive is the VFX industry, but Samsung’s drives are already known there. This from Lee Danskin, CTO of VFX specialist reseller Escape Technology: “Samsung’s range of portable, high-speed SSDs and NVMe solutions completes the move to solid state drives across the industry. Support for USB 3.1 10Gbps gives artists and creatives the ability to maximise their mobile storage in a compact form to bridge the gap between USB drives and their larger counterparts. All with the throughput to enable 500MB/s performance through the whole data chain.”

We duly contacted Blue Zoo Studios, well known for children’s television series like Digby Dragon on Nickelodeon and Alphablocks on the BBC, amongst many others. Their animations are also featured in commercials, including Lego, BBC Sport and Disney.

Co-founder Tom Box saw the advantages of Samsung’s new T5 Portable SSD drive immediately, “I’m a big fan of this drive; my first impression was just how small it was compared to the usual type of hard disks we use. It matches my laptop in proportions and looked just as cool and you also don’t worry about its weight in your bag. Also having a solid state device stops you wondering that if you knock it accidentally that it won’t boot up the next time you plug it in. It’s one thing less to worry about when you’re juggling loads of projects. “Having used it for a while, I find it amazing! The best external storage drive I’ve tried. I’m getting an insane 800% speed boost from our usual USB 2 mechanical external hard disks.”

Promoting Blue Zoo

As co-founder of the studios, Tom spends a lot of his time travelling to industry events and to pitch his studio to customers. This means preparing different types of showreels for each occasion. “What has always been frustrating working with hard drives before has been the speed of them. We’re always dealing with different projects and have been known to even use USB sticks to copy files from our workstations to my laptop. They take forever so more recently we have ironically sent files over the Internet with our gigabit link from one computer to another in the studio. Now, with the Samsung T5 Portable drive it is much quicker
to transfer a multi-terabyte file. Minutes have turned in to transferring in a flash.”

To prepare these showreels Tom has to take elements from different departments and producers and then copy all that material on to the drive so he can edit all the QuickTime files together on the laptop while he travels across the country. “I do a lot of industry talks so usually have to edit bespoke material for that. The Samsung drive has allowed me to multitask and achieve more. I’m not waiting for files to copy which is incredibly frustrating when you’re just about to run out the door and catch the train.”

Tom’s journeys also include pitching for new business which means a whole different type of showreel, one to impress and not necessarily teach from. “Last week I went to ten different colleges for presentations on how they could have better animation training. The next day I went to Manchester to an animation festival to give a masterclass in running an animation company which needed a different showreel. On the following Friday I went to a skills show in Birmingham where I was trying to raise awareness of the animation industry.

“Yesterday I went to an agency to do a show-and-tell for new business so I needed to edit work for specific relevance to that agency. I’m constantly making bespoke stuff instead of having general stuff that might not suit the situation.”

For the Manchester festival Tom finished the presentation on the train with the Samsung T5 Portable drive which would have been tricky with his usual hard drive. “Those train tables are tiny so having a compact drive which is self-powered to work from is just lovely. It is so refreshing having such a small device to use like this. It’s so convenient to have this drive and all the small advantages turn into one huge benefit.”

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