To say Dale Earnhardt, Jr., “races cars” is a bit like suggesting Tom Brady “throws a ball around” or Lebron James “shoots hoops.” Those are accurate statements, of course, but they capture nothing of the drama — their exceptional talent, their showmanship, their triumphs, their heart.
And in Junior’s case, taking harrowing turns at 200 MPH — hour after hour — is just one of his skills. Sure, he “races cars,” but he also voices Disney cartoon characters, authors best-selling books, performs in music videos, owns a bar, and engages in meaningful work in the community. And he owns a full-service video and content production studio — Hammerhead Entertainment.
Launched in 2004, Hammerhead’s initial purpose was to give Junior, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver every year since 2003, more creative control over his personal brand. But just as Junior doesn’t just “race cars,” Hammerhead Entertainment doesn’t just “film endorsements.” The studio is creating branded content for a variety of clients — from the National Guard to Nickelodeon and PepsiCo to Penske.
The Need for Speed
As it turns out, stock car racing and video production require a common element: speed. And that’s how the EVO shared storage server finally ended up in Hammerhead’s pitcrew.
Nick Bertram, Hammerhead’s Director of Production, explains. “When we began searching for a network solution, we were looking primarily for speed so we can work in as close to full resolution as possible. We do a lot of multicam and shoot a lot on green screen, and then composite in footage, so we end up using a lot of bandwidth. With 1080p ProRes 422 footage, we could get a couple of streams without choking each other out on the old system. But then we started doing a lot of 2K and 4K with the ARRI ALEXA — and then 8K with the RED WEAPON. With the Drobo storage setup we had before EVO it became impossible to work on any of the footage.”
With that beautiful 8K footage causing their workflow to break down, Nick knew it was time for them to retire the Drobo and get behind the wheel of something with more horsepower. To do that, Nick enlisted the help of Studio Network Solutions and took an EVO shared storage server for a test drive. “We wanted to be able to edit multiple streams of 4K or 6K as close to full-res as possible. It’s something we couldn’t do before, but with EVO, we can,” Nick said.
For Bertram, finding a faster system wasn’t only about productivity; agility actually gets to the heart of their post production philosophy.
“As an editor, any playback issues suck the creativity out of the project. Your legs get cut out the minute you drop a frame or the minute something lags or gets out of sync. We do a lot of fast-paced cutting and high-energy pieces, so the edit suite has to be responsive to keep up.”
The Winner’s Circle
Trophy-earning racing teams and top-tier production studios have another shared quality: reliability.
Hammerhead has three iMac and HP Z820 editing suites, direct-connected to EVO over 10 Gb Ethernet, running Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. When it comes to day-to-day workflow, Bertram says, “EVO is just there. That’s the beauty of it: It’s invisible. We don’t even really think about it now, whereas before I was always troubleshooting and mounting drives and trying to figure out what was where. With EVO, you open your project, and you’re ready to go.”
The benefits of reliability extend beyond Bertram’s team and directly to their clients — giving them a competitive advantage over other studios. “We constantly have clients reaching out to us who need a shot of something we did two or three years ago.” With EVO’s help, Hammerhead is able to easily manage every frame from every shoot. “We can store it, find it, and almost instantly get it to the client,” Bertram adds.
At the Daytona 500, there’s one trophy. With EVO, everyone lands in the winner’s circle. Hammerhead’s team revels in its quickness and reliability. And the fans? Well, we get to sit back and enjoy the creativity.
About Studio Network Solutions (SNS)
SNS shared storage solutions are at the core of optimized video workflow for professional content creation workgroups worldwide. The SNS EVO shared media storage server combines high-performance with extensive connectivity, including 10Gb/s Ethernet and Fibre Channel. With EVO’s included ShareBrowser asset management software, you can search, index, preview, tag, and verify video and project assets with no additional software required. NAS, SAN, or both at the same time, EVO is designed for online real-time video editing with leading video/audio applications including Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro/CC, Final Cut Pro (FCP), Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), DaVinci Resolve, Pro Tools, and others.