Local Hero Post has been a file-based studio since opening their first location in Hollywood nearly a decade ago, during the RED camera revolution’s genesis of professional digital filmmaking. However, like many media companies, they struggled with a critical technology gap trying to send large and numerous high resolution files.
As specialists in digital intermediate and feature finishing, Local Hero needs to move content at various stages of every production/post production lifecycle, whether it’s from set to studio, across the country or across the globe. Working with Local Hero’s Technologist, Andrew Wahlquist, Signiant helped them close that technology gap with Media Shuttle, a hybrid SaaS file transfer solution that fits Local Hero’s budget, scales to their business fluctuations, and can quickly transfer any size file anywhere in the world.
“When you’re stepping into the next level, where people are hiring based on ability rather than location, something like Media Shuttle becomes vital for your business.” -Andrew Wahlquist, Technologist at Local Hero Post
Local Hero is a leader in an emerging genre of boutique feature film studios, existing somewhere between avant-garde Indie filmmaking and giant motion picture studio, while countering the inefficiencies of both extremes. They work alongside producers such as Helen Hunt and Julio Macat on everything from workflow design and onset services to VFX, final grading, finishing and delivery, offering end-to-end supervision of the entire digital filmmaking process with minimal facility overhead.
Before they had Media Shuttle, reliable file transfers were a hole in an otherwise state-of-the-art process, and a huge drain on their time and finances. Their FTP system couldn’t reliably handle their dailies, much less DCPs, and shipping drives was increasingly impractical.
“Data transfer was one of the big missing pieces,” says Wahlquist. “There was just no good way to work remotely and cover different coasts.”
Initially, Local Hero signed up for a free trial of Media Shuttle and successfully used it during the creation of Haunt (2014) for sending Visual Effects plates (the untreated footage) and receiving back final renders from numerous remote visual effects artists around the country.
The movie was finished in L.A. with color correction done in Santa Monica, and Local Hero was easily able to move the large files between locations.
A few months later, Local Hero started to work on two more films—Captain Fantastic with Viggo Mortensen and The Choice based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks—and immediately purchased Media Shuttle.
This fluctuating rhythm to Local Hero’s business is not uncommon. Many companies need a solution that scales up when it’s busy and down when it’s quiet.
“Shuttle is surprisingly cost effective because of the pay-as-you-go model,” says Wahlquist. “We looked at your competitor’s services, and they were way out of our price range in terms of what we can pay upfront.”
Local Hero now uses Media Shuttle for quickly sending everything from VFX files to entire DCPs (digital cinema packages). For example, if a foreign distributor in another country needs a fixed master file immediately, they jump on Media Shuttle. During the making of Captain Fantastic, Local Hero used Media Shuttle to send 40-100 GB/day of digital dailies from the set in Washington State to the editor in New York. They also sent dailies from the North Carolina set of The Choice to New York, as well as sending entire cuts of the film (65 GB) from New York to Santa Monica for producer screenings.
Basically, Local Hero uses Media Shuttle for all of their large file transfer needs. But they’ve noticed some additional perks beyond Media Shuttle’s speed that can be attributed its hybrid SaaS (Software as a Service) architecture, including the cost-effective flexibility that attracted them in the first place.
Media Shuttle’s automatic scalability and flexible pricing model are a direct result of it being a SaaS solution. Other benefits of SaaS include global performance and rapid innovation, which means Media Shuttle is available anywhere in the world with an Internet connection and we are constantly improving it. But, of all the perks of SaaS, Media Shuttle’s easy setup and highly intuitive user experience are some of the most notable.
“What I like about Media Shuttle, unlike [other solutions], is that the user experience is so clean,” says Wahlquist. “It’s not a black box that only a couple of people understand.”
Security is high on everyone’s minds in Media & Entertainment these days. Like Local Hero, Signiant has been in the digital media business since the shift from tape to file-based workflows, and we’ve always taken the security of our client’s content seriously, especially as we’ve moved into cloud based software design.
The hybrid aspect of Media Shuttle’s hybrid SaaS is specifically designed with security in mind. We’ve cleanly separated the control and data planes of our software, which increases our ability to build in extra security measures while giving our customers total control over their content storage.
“Anytime we have a sensitive movie,” says Wahlquist, “we definitely only use Media Shuttle because of its password protected user base and because of Signiant’s reputation for high security.”
“It’s not really fair to compare it to our old FTP system because Media Shuttle utilizes our full bandwidth,” says Wahlquist, “but the speed difference is night and day.”
At Signiant, we were really happy to hear how much Media Shuttle has helped Local Hero. They’ve taken another step forward in their legacy of innovation, closing a critical technology gap in professional digital filmmaking. The speed, reliability and security of Media Shuttle is helping attract the support of loyal directors, DP’s, producers, and post supervisors.
One last feature we’d like to highlight, one that Local Hero is especially proud of, is their branded web portals (like the one pictured at the beginning of this case study). Their portals have become an extension of their brand and of their business as a trusted, high-speed route for all of their file transfer needs.