With an estimated 1m-registered users and over 600,000 students, Craftsy, a virtual school for crafting enthusiasts is poised to be the largest online education business ever. Craftsy parent company, Denver based Sympoz, Inc., was founded in 2010 by former eBay executives who were frustrated by the quality of online education. Sympoz introduced classes in crafting and cooking, which they quickly found tapped into a large underserved online market segment, women. The crafting courses were so successful that in May 2011, Sympoz launched the Craftsy brand now offering quilting, knitting, crochet, sewing, paper crafts, cake decorating and more.
SNS EVO™ has allowed us to greatly increase our workflow output. Our media is now stable and collaborative – EVO™ has taken us to a level that is unmatched.
When it was clear that the company was outgrowing its studio infrastructure, Sympoz looked to Studio Network Solutions’ (SNS) EVO™ Shared Storage solution for the answer.
“Commitment to producing and presenting the highest quality video production is what enables us to deliver a truly interactive classroom experience,” shared Justin Lang, Senior Technical Manager of Production and Media Library for Sympoz, Inc. “Sympoz, as a company, has grown faster than anybody ever imagined which puts us in a tough situation from a workflow perspective. SNS recognized where our pain points were and helped us to be more efficient while still maintaining the high quality we demand of our productions.”
SYMPOZ INC. REINVENTS THE ONLINE CLASS EXPERIENCE WITH CRAFTSY
Sympoz, Inc.’s Craftsy brand instructional course isn’t your big sister’s online class. It’s far more advanced and effective. And if you think you can get the same results on YouTube, think again. Each class is a highly interactive educational venture beyond any other offered online. Designed to meet the needs of today’s busy knowledge seekers, you can access the lessons at any time giving you enormous flexibility and control over course participation.
This high standard of production quality requires a very distinct workflow. Though the footage for each production is edited in post, each shoot is approached as its own live production mimicking the experience the instructors are accustomed to in an actual classroom. The beneficial difference being, they can retake if necessary. Each shoot has a three-day cycle of completion. The rough cuts from the live shoot are done in two days at which point the videographers bring the footage back to the Sympoz studio facility to edit. Then on the third day it’s back to the set where the production continues. Using the Tools on Air system to capture and the Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio switcher, the live production is edited while still capturing raw footage from A&B cameras. The live two-camera productions are shot on Sony EX1s. On average, there are about four shoots per week with four simultaneous crews working on them. Craftsy currently has 10 class categories and more are being added. Each course has approximately 10 lessons totaling approximately 4-7 hours of content per shoot. At four shoots per week, that’s a lot of footage–all of which is turned around and finalized in approximately three weeks.
Before turning to SNS to streamline their production pipeline, Sympoz was utilizing 40-50 TB of external hard drives many of which were transported from set to studio.
“Initially we had to manage all of the footage on different hard drives,” remarked Justin. “If one person dropped a drive, we’d lose all the work. A SAN solution was the logical choice and SNS EVO™ gave us a virtually custom solution that was both cost efficient and with its project sharing ability, a perfect match for our workflow which often requires multiple editors reviewing and/or editing simultaneously.”
The raw footage from the video shoots is loaded onto EVO™ and shared via multiple workstations. Sympoz post-production studio consists of 14 workstations. All of the editing is done on Adobe Premiere© with finishing as well as graphic elements cut on Adobe After Effects©. Sympoz also developed their own proprietary platform to manage Timecode stamping and other elements.
With the new addition of an EVO™ expansion chassis, Sympoz now has a dedicated Fiber connection between the studio and the office. Now they are able to offload the data from the studio Mac Pro towers to the EVO™ at the office further allowing them to streamline their production workflow. The existing setup with external hard drives will be migrated onto the EVO™ creating an archive database of all existing and legacy projects utilizing CatDV digital asset management application to manage.
There’s seemingly no end to Sympoz’ lightspeed growth and inevitable domination of the online education marketplace. The company continues to increase funding from investors and customer acquisition, and enhances their features and offerings making them a virtual marketplace for materials, supplies, patterns and knowledge in the craft community.
“There is an unbelievable group of amazingly intelligent people working at Sympoz,” Lang concluded. “The quality of our product is proportionate to the quality of our team and as such the technology we infuse into the mix has to be at the very highest level of performance and reliability. SNS EVO™ has allowed us to greatly increase our workflow output. Our media is now stable and collaborative – EVO™ has taken us to a level that is unmatched.”
For more information about Sympoz, Inc. and Craftsy courses visit www.sympoz.com and www.craftsy.com
EVO is a complete, shared storage solution purpose-built for video and audio workgroups. EVO has extensive connectivity options including 8 Gb Fibre Channel and 1/10 GbE iSCSI/Ethernet. Serving as a SAN, NAS, or both at the same time, users can directly connect up to 15 workstations without an external switching device. EVO offers native Avid bin and project sharing, Adobe Premiere Pro project sharing and Pro Tools file sharing.
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