First Look: B&H's Post Production Display Area


We always hear about loyal customers who travel great distances and visit New York City's many incredible sites and always find the time to stop by B&H's Superstore on 34th Street and 9th Avenue. These customers are usually flabbergasted at the sheer size, overwhelmed by the amount of products on display, marvel at the conveyor belt system and equally impressed with the knowledge of our Sales Associates. But most of our out-of-town customers only know B&H as the home for photography and nothing else. Well, B&H is a lot more.

The recently completed expansion project has doubled the size of the Superstore to 70,000 square feet. Each specialty area now has extra space to let us to offer more demonstrations and instruction to go along with our comprehensive product line. Since B&H's arrival at its current location in 1998, the Post Production demo area has gone through several variations, each alteration more of a reaction to the evolving stages of entire store than leading its own business model. That has all changed with the new redesigned Post Production demo section.

Entering the store from 9th Avenue, a client only has to glance to the right to notice the expanded Pro Video section, with an increased presence for the Post Production workstations. When designing a separate area for professional level equipment, B&H consulted with the Pro Video Sales Manager John Pace and his experienced team of Sales Associates for the best possible experience for the customer.

The Post demo area is now an extension of the Pro Video section, seamlessly blending all aspects of production from acquisition equipment to the finishing stage. This integration of gear doesn't stop at the new architectural design. B&H has raised the bar of the staffs' expertise. Each Sales Associate is a end-user in their own right, whether it is shooting, lighting, sound, writing, producing, directing, editing or graphics. They bring to the table their own individual experiences, offering unique viewpoints of what is best for the customer, not what is best for B&H. Every Sales Associate has gone through a rigorous testing process, qualifying them to expertly assist our end-users and assure their satisfaction. And not one of our sales staff works on commission, so they are not encouraged to sell one product over the other for a bigger profit. They advise each individual's based on their requirements and point them in the best possible direction for their needs.

In the Post Production demo area, there are dedicated Demo Specialists, responsible to properly explain the equipment on hand, answer pre and post sales technical questions from clients, and maintain the area. The business clientele is carefully consulted with from pre-sales demonstrations to post sales installation and support. A strong working relationship also exists between the Sales Associate and Manufacturer Representatives, insuring an open line of communication for potential technical issues or future upgrades.

A Research and Development plan has been implemented that improves the Pro Video Workstation quality, stability and customer satisfaction. B&H's Pro Video R&D Team diligently researched the workstations compatibility with a wide variety of products, manufacturers, software revisions and platforms. B&H has developed several useful products that can adhere to stringent testing and has successfully developed operational workstations, and continues testing all new revisions that may improve overall product quality.

Based on this research, B&H is rolling out a series of workstations, meticulously designed and built to guarantee a reliable editing, compositing and animating system. Whether it be for Windows or Mac, these systems can be integrated with a software and hardware solution that best complements our clients.

For years, Rain Recording has been delivering systems for the Audio Professional, but now B&H has partnered with them and developed the ideal solution for the Video Professional. First up for the Windows systems is the B&H exclusive Rain Recording Element Octo-Core Digital Media Workstation.. The Element has two 2.26GHz Intel Xeon Nehalem Quad Core E5520 processors, 4GB DDR3 memory (upgradeable to 48GB), nVIDIA Quadro FX3800 graphics card and is equipped with three 500GB SATA II 7200rpm drives, the Raid is expandable up to 12TB's in the main tower. Utilizing Rain's Quiet Cool Design, the Element is a full size aluminum chassis housing a motherboard with two PCI Express x16, one of each of PCI Express x1, x4 and x8 slots and has 8 internal bays for drive expansion. And because Rain Recording has been designing systems for the audio pro, the Element runs practically silent.

The next level down is another B&H exclusive, the Rain Recording Nimbus V Digital Video Computer Workstation. Included is a 2.8GHz Intel Lynnfield Core i7 860 Quad-Core processor, 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 memory (upgradeable to 16GB), 1.5TB storage and a nVIDIA Quadro FX 1700 Graphics card. Both systems are equipped with Dual-Layer DVD burners and one year warranties and can be configured with either Adobe Production Premium CS5 or Avid Media Composer. And depending on your requirements, the Adobe systems can easily be upgraded with hardware capture boards from Aja or Blackmagic.

B&H also has a custom designed workstation with Matrox RT.X2 and Adobe Premiere CS4 that has been a reliable system for many of our clientele. Installed with a 3.06GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 6GB RAM, 5TB storage, DVD Burner and nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT EE Graphics, this Windows 7 workstation is an excellent way to break into video editing without breaking the bank.

On the Mac side, B&H has put together two Mac Pro workstations. The A 2.93GHz 8-Core System with 6GB RAM, 1TB SATA Hard Drive, Dual-Layer SuperDrive, ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB Graphics and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is an ideal desktop solution for Final Cut Studio 3, Apple's full post suite for editing, titling, compression, audio and compositing. A similar Mac Pro is also available with 8GB RAM and 640GB SATA Hard Drive.

Each Mac system can be configured with either an internal or external hard drive array specific to the client's needs. To expand the I/O's, an AJA Kona LHi with rackmountable breakout box is added for SD and HD editing and conversion. The Kona LHi is capable of editing from HDV to uncompressed, HDMI 1.3a and 3G SDI support and 24-bit AES/EBU digital audio at 48 KHz. The 10-bit uncompressed card supports all of Apple's ProRes 422 formats, 1080p50/60, QuickTime, DVCPRO HD and broadcast quality up/down/cross conversion.

The AJA Kona LHi ties up a post production facility with a wide range of audio and video sources, frame rates and formats, and utilizes several types of digital and analog sources. The broadcast quality convertor is hardware based, so it is available at all times and you can embed or disembed audio. And by independently configuring the outputs, the AJA Kona LHi can output HD and SD simultaneously.

Each system must be catered to individual needs, and B&H carries a wide range of third party plug-in software from Boris FX, Digieffects, Red Giant and other developers to expand the tools of the editor. Hundreds of applications are available addressing filter, titling, audio, compositing and FX requirements for your project.

But this is only part of the story. Next month we will be covering the other half of the puzzle with an overview of B&H's Pro Audio workstations, followed by how the two sides meet with ideal setup for the ultimate Post Production configurations.