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August 6th, 2013

GAMES_Nintendo-WiiUNintendo inaugurated the next generation of game consoles with the Nintendo Wii U, the company’s first high-def system with enough graphical horsepower to bear comparison to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Arguably the Wii U’s unique selling point is the enormous “control tablet”—essentially a chubby, button-loaded iPad rental—that brings the Wii’s motion controls, the Xbox’s physical ones, and the Nintendo 3DS’s touch screen together. This fits into the recent trend toward experimentation we’ve noticed in the tech sector, such as the new computing paradigms being promoted in both the high-end (Mac Pro) and low-end (Chromebooks).

Game consoles are very big business. Competition is fierce in 2013, and will culminate this November in a game console smackdown that PCmag.com says is “shaping up to be the fight of the century.” That’s when both Sony and Microsoft start selling their own “new paradigm game consoles” to counter the Nintendo Wii that’s already on sale. The Nintendo flagship is a unique system, more potent than the average computer rental, but there are few titles for it so far. Its other major new feature, the TVii subsystem for live TV and digital media, is not quite fully baked. The high-definition video is a nice addition but the Wii U’s future depends on other developers turning the new paradigm into popular games and entertainment.

Sony PlayStation 4

The Sony PlayStation 4 will retail for $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One. Although the PlayStation 4 price won’t include its new PlayStation Eye camera while the Xbox One will come bundled with Microsoft Kinect, the $100 difference is enough to catch consumers’ attention. As with such Apple products as the iconic iMac, though, many consumers gladly pay more for good design, attention to detail, and superior craftsmanship. But, Sony has the better reputation for quality control.

Playstation 4 pkgImportantly, you can play games (virtually) forever on the PlayStation 4 while remaining offline, and use your games from previous PlayStation models. While Microsoft proposed and reversed several controversial policies concerning the Xbox One, Sony has whipped its fan base into a frenzy the way Apple did at WWDC 2013. Fanboyz and fangirlz are good for business. A strong selection of top titles are lined up behind the launch-day games to keep the fans happy.

Microsoft Xbox One

The Xbox One is Microsoft’s third-generation console and its definition of “living room tech” has expanded far beyond mere gaming. The basic system combines the next-generation Kinect 2.0 sensor—more sensitive with better recognition ofGAMES_XboxOne small and/or quick gestures—with a 500GB hard drive, a single wireless controller, and its first Blu-ray drive. Connectivity is covered with HDMI in/out and USB 3.0 support. Frankly, you could connect everything from our plasma display rentals to external mass storage to this device, as it’s compatible with just about everything. Coincidence? Hardly. Microsoft is not even positioning the Xbox One as a game console. It’s meant to be the center of your life.

For spending leisure hours enjoying media and entertainment, the Xbox One has channel guides for live TV, on-demand, and subscription options; and you can split screens and jump among games, TV shows, movies, music, photos, Skype video calls, the camera at your front door, and anything else with a digital signal that you can connect to it. The proposed “security” measures initially proposed for the Xbox One (various disturbing restrictions on trading or even playing used games) were nixed in June. Exclusive Xbox One titles at or near launch day include a new Halo plus Forza Motorsports 5, Dead Rising 3, and Minecraft: Xbox One Edition.

One call to (877) 266-7725 or a quick message will result in the right answers to your unique challenges. If you already know what you need, the Quick Rental Quote page is the route to an even quicker solution. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll be here!

June 11th, 2013

Over a period of weeks this past April, Amazon conducted a unique test: It streamed 14 series pilots and let viewers vote on which should become the Internet behemoth’s first original “TV shows.” The result of “the first TV show election” led to Amazon greenlighting five original series: Alpha House and Betas for adults, plus three children’s programs. Amazon isn’t just plumping up its offerings like Apple does—adding a new iMac this year that got much thinner but marginally more powerful—and Amazon never made a secret of its ideas about the “Internetification” of TV. Those ideas are now reality.

What’s the deal?

Among Amazon’s 14 pilots were Onion News Empire, a behind-the-scenes look at the satirical Onion News operation, and a series based on the movie Zombieland. The weekend that the episodes were released for free streaming on its Instant Video service, Amazon reports, the pilots were “8 of the 10 most streamed TV episodes.” John Goodman stars in Alpha House, “a political comedy about four quirky U.S. senators” becoming roommates in Washington, D.C. The show averaged four out of five stars in some 3,000 reviews. Betas is about four quirky young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (see a pattern developing?) launching yet another social networking app. It scored 4.3 stars in 2,000+ reviews. Both pilots are still streaming for free, and will debut along with the children’s shows later this year.

Betas - amazon pilot

Amazon’s new shows are “exclusive, premium” offerings on its Prime Instant Video service, yet a free benefit of an Amazon Prime account. Members can watch the original programs in various ways—on tablet PCs and laptop rentals, via TV apps, and over Roku and other streaming devices. Amazon Prime is $79 annually and includes such nice fringe benefits as free 2-day shipping on all site purchases, access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, and a free book rental every month. Not sure about it? Amazon says, “No problem.” You can check out the service with a 30-day free trial and then decide if you want to commit to a full year. Other companies claim a better mix of content and pricing, so we’ll have to see how consumers respond.

The field gets crowded

Although Amazon is the first major content producer to empower viewers to greenlight new shows, it is not the first service to produce original Web programs. Hemlock Grove and House of Cards (with Kevin Spacey) are already on Netflix, as is the fourth season of Arrested Development. Hulu is bringing up to a dozen new series in 2013, including The Awesomes, a cartoon with Seth Meyers, and Quick Draw, a comedy Western. Interestingly, Hulu will let viewers see the shows for free on laptops and computers, but require a Hulu Plus subscription ($7.99/mo) to watch on an iPad rental, smartphone, or TV. And to watch any Netflix show, you must have a subscription (same as Hulu Plus, $7.99). The number of original shows will increase by at least eight in 2014.

Notwithstanding possible communitarian impulses, it may be that Amazon is simply hedging its bets with the voting. But consumers are notoriously fickle. If consumer polls and focus groups were consistently dependable, no new products or services that employed them would ever fail. That’s not reality. So, we shall see—and, yes, we’ll keep you posted!

One thing you never have to hedge your bet on is CRE’s expertise in high-tech gear, trade show technology rentals, and post-production technology. Call (877) 266-7725, send a message, or use the Quick Rental Quote page—but one way or another, let’s connect so you can get the unique solutions you need for the unique challenges you face. We’re always ready to help.

June 4th, 2013

cable a la carteIn a dramatic departure for an American cable company, Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) will fundamentally alter its customer relationships. After bundling services for years into 24-month contracts with an initial six- to 12-month discount period, TWC has decided to count on customers’ willingness to pay “full boat retail” for what they really want. Now that landline phone service is going the way of the dinosaur, it’s out, along with one-size-fits-all bundles and confusing price structures. What’s in? This new paradigm of à la carte ordering, of course, along with a hand-picked team to implement it.

You’re the “U” in ARPU

It all comes down to the bottom line, of course, in this case what TWC calls its “average revenue per user,” or ARPU. As long as that acronym trends up, and operations remain profitable, TWC could not care less about losing some subscribers (not too many, of course). While accumulating accounts for the sake of trumpeting “subscriber gains” was once a major goal, Time Warner’s COO Rob Marcus said in a late-April conference call with analysts that now it is “not the right thing to focus on.”  He goes on to add that such monomania is bad for “the long-term health of the business.”

Satisfying customers, with pricing secondary to top-quality product and service, means some former freebies—perhaps TWC’s app for streaming live TV to your CRE iPad rental—may have a price tag now. But customers will be in charge, says Marcus, because they can finally get what they want (mostly), and add different options to a basic TV offering. The service may cost more without the former discounts, but it will likely lack two-year commitments and eventually become the vaunted “Chinese restaurant menu” from which individual channels can be ordered. Of course, this ignores the fact that cable’s not just losing customers, it’s not getting new ones either. If the Internet gets you most everything you want, why pay for TV?

The numbers, crunched

TWC lost almost 120,000 customers last quarter, exceeding the 92,000 predicted by industry analysts, and is in a serious battle for TV turf with Verizon’s FIOS and AT&T’s U-Verse. Despite the three-course menu the cable firms offer—TV, phone, Internet—the bosses want to see ever more home theaters, plasma display rentals, hotel/motel flat-panels, and other televisions streaming their content for that ego-boosting “screen count.” TWC could use some good news, as it also lost 35,000 phone customers (residential) in the first quarterly decrease in two years. But even with a net gain of over 130,000 residential Internet accounts, the last quarter is still an “analytical loser” because TWC was expected to see 160,000 or so.

As the company sputtered through the opening stages of its transition, some nimble moves by its financial brain trust kept the financials surprisingly solid. Forget the disappointing account figures: TWC enjoyed  a good profit last quarter. At $1.41 a share, earnings bested Bloomberg’s $1.37 analyst average guesstimate. Sales were up 6.6% to $5.48 billion, also beating the projections. TWC shares have been relatively stable since the “new thinking” has taken hold at the firm. To CEO Marcus, this signals a generally receptive attitude from investors for the new approach. “A muted reaction” in the press and financial markets is actually “a positive for us,” he said—but “the proof has to be in the pudding.” As always, CRE will keep you posted.

Whether it’s the right event production rentals, mass storage, or cutting-edge digital gear, CRE is the top one-stop shop. Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote form. Choose the method that works best for you! Ready? So are we—any time, all the time, and right now, too!

May 14th, 2013

content creationWe reported in September 2011 on the growing trend toward webcasting, by entertainment companies and conference organizers alike, and the doomsayers and anti-futurists predicted at the time that Google and other Evil Corporations would take over, well, everything. Instead, huge numbers of individuals—singers, musicians, dancers, poets, rappers, actors, comedians—have taken advantage of the technology to distribute their own material. The advantages are numerous: A great, transparent business model; no bosses, no censorship, no second-hand smoke; and the money goes directly to the creators, not to or through a middleman. This trend is not just accelerating. It’s at the “goodness, gracious, great balls of fire” level and still rising.

Comedy makes serious money

Comedians Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, and Jim Gaffigan have recently brought big-time media attention to artist-produced programming on the Internet. Last summer (2012), Louis sold all seats on his 67-show tour via his own website,  and held scalping to under 1% of sales. He also tallied 220,000 downloads of his “Live at the Beacon Theater” special, which cost $250,000 to produce and sold for $5 each ($1.1 million gross). If you downloaded it to a Mac or PC, you could easily prepare it for viewing on your smartphone, desktop, laptop, tablet PC rental, or pretty much anything with a screen. And Louis allowed buyers to download it “a few times” if they needed to, on the honor system. It worked.

Musicians have also begun to take the self-produced route in recent years. Songstress Ani DiFranco gave some suitably squishy egalitarian-ish arguments for avoiding a “corporate sellout” and starting her own company, Righteous Babe. Fact is, she’s making a lot more money now by leveraging social media and all the full array of CTS (“contemporary tech stuff”) to stay in touch with her legions of fans. You can tune her in, along with Louis and the others, wherever your WiFi- and/or 4G-connected smartphone, Android tablet, or iPad rental can get a signal (most anywhere). Louis CK and Ani are popular, and rightly so, but the term “content” extends to the rest of the verse, prose, audio, and images (still graphics, animation, video) that fill every nook and cranny of the Internet with come-ons, how-tos, and everything else. There’s content, then there’s content.

Everybody slow down a bit

If you hear complaints about “losing money” in the “wider” (or “broader”) digital entertainment market of today, you can bet they’re coming from traditional middlemen. Yes, the Internet has altered (okay, demolished) the traditional ways content agencies, brokers, syndicates, and even TV networks make money. Still, economic data show that, year over year, far more money is entering the overall market, much more content is being produced, and entrepreneurs are finding lots of new ways to create value. Post-production pros working with our render farms and audio pros working with PC-driven digital mixing consoles know how to create the material. That’s because content creators, the actual people sitting at the potent Mac Pro rental workstations doing the creating, must stay updated and leading-edge. They must keep pace with the technology.

The problem is that marketing execs are not keeping pace, and have no such ever-present pressure. They are not compelled to upgrade their approach like a digital artist is compelled to install the latest JavaScript update. The primary challenge, of course, is discovering and developing new methods of tapping into the new and bigger revenue streams being produced by the wider entertainment industry. Legacy firms will encounter more competitors, and individual artists—writers, musicians, poets, filmmakers, performance artists, and (of course!) comedians—will be running their own shows, literally.

creation platforms

“The Sky Is Rising”

If you hear about arts and/or entertainment industries “dying” or “being destroyed,” remember: That’s not it at all. Rather, companies are not rising to meet the new business model and marketing challenges, despite the greater long-term opportunity. Clearly, there are many exciting new opportunities, plural, and just as many ways to succeed. Nothing’s guaranteed in life, but look at the recent trends (as reported in The Sky Is Rising at Techdirt.com):

  • Entertainment spending as a portion of income: UP 15% between 2000 and 2008
  • Employment in the entertainment sector: UP 20%, with indie artists seeing 43% growth
  • Overall entertainment industry revenues: UP 66% between 1998 and 2010

Direct-to-consumer marketing can work for many products and services. It only took this long in the entertainment world because of the obstructionism of dying institutions, old business models, and maladaptive corporate cultures. Economist Joseph Schumpeter had some penetrating insights about “creative destruction” that we will consider in an upcoming blog, insights that will add to your understanding of the powerful forces unleashed by nothing more than the human imagination—as well as the countervailing forces of the status quo, always and everywhere an impediment to progress. It’s the oldest battle on Earth.

If you’ve got a battle coming up—say, planning for a big annual conference—then we’re the best ally you could have. Get the trade show convention rentals and the first-rate advice you need by calling an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, sending a message, or using our Quick Rental Quote form. However you contact us, we get on the job for you right away. Call today!

March 22nd, 2013

Long a standard part of the professional film editor’s toolbox, Final Cut Pro (FCP) truly dominated the film and video industries. It was tightly integrated with Mac OS X, very powerful, intuitive to use, andIs there a future for Mac Pro? adaptable to any number of different workflows. Add a CRE Mac Pro rental and you’ve got a big-league film editing solution, running Apple software on Apple hardware. In comparison, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, and even Avid Media Composer came up short. FCP ruled.

End of an era?

When Apple released Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) in mid-2011, it was a radical departure from preceding versions, so radical that it couldn’t open FCP files (a major gripe, of course). In a manner similar to what Adobe did with Dreamweaver and Muse in 2012, Apple seemingly “dumbed down” the product in order to attract soccer dads and family filmmakers. Those Cupertino captains of industry obviously noticed that the average iMac buyer wasn’t bundling her new computer with FCP, so they revised the film editing application to more closely resemble iMovie and iOS apps.

At CRE, we provide many fine Apple products—from the iPad rental to the fire-breathing Mac Pro tower—so we are continuously observing tech trends “up close and personal.” Today it’s all about mobile computing, the cloud, icons on touchscreens, ease of use, simplicity, and speed. Apple’s iOS, its various iDevices, the MacBook line, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the still-iconic iMac are right in that moneymaking middle of the road zone, so they get the lion’s share of attention at Apple these days. High-end towers and editing software for tens of thousands versus iPhones and iPads for tens of millions? No contest.

No longer a niche firm

As of March 1, 2013, the Mac Pro is no longer being shipped to European Union countries, EU candidate countries, or the four European Free Trade Association countries of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. (It has something to do with failing to cover the internal fan blades or some such nonsense.) While Apple has reportedly confirmed that a new Mac Pro will be available in 2013, the last disappointing revision in June drove a lack of faith in Apple’s seriousness about the line. And FCPX, despite minor revisions since its debacle of a debut, is dropping down on the list of go-to programs for pro film editors, although some still swear by it.

The prospect of no professional-grade Mac and the absorption of FCPX into iMovie 15 or so are scary scenarios for many Mac-loving creative professionals. So much for taking care of the “pro users.” Of course, Apple is no longer a niche firm, but a world brand that was, for a time, more valuable than any other. You might think that a company sitting on billions in cash and straddling the tech world like a colossus could keep a niche operation going to serve professional users. You would be right, it could be done. What does it mean that Apple isn’t doing so?

Whether you need a Mac or a Windows Workstation, a call to (877) 266-7725 or a short message puts an experienced Account Executive to work finding just the right high-end computer rentals for your next project, or a solution to your digital storage woes. Know what you need? Use our Quick Rental Quote form and get it done now. Remember: Whatever the technology problem, the solution is CRE!

November 27th, 2012

REFERENCE

Sun Seeker (iOS $8.99; Android $5.99) maps Old Sol’s path via “augmented reality” and indicates hourly intervals, sunrise/sunset and winter/summer solstice paths so you can set up outdoor shots. A map view gives you the sun’s direction for every hour of the day.

Final Cut Pro field guideMoviola’s Final Cut Pro Field Guide (iOS $3.99) is a must-have for anyone working with FCP (for which you want Mac Pro rental power). Get help with troubleshooting, editorial workflows, emerging tech (RED, P2, etc.), keyboard shortcuts and more. With great resources – from software and hardware to reviews and online forums – shutterbugs, lensers, and cutters are never alone.

The Filmmakers Guide to Location Filming (Android, free) from the Location Managers Guild of America is the primo resource guide for auteurs in every niche: feature films, TV episodes and newfangled webisodes, music videos, commercials and more. Whatever you do, if you need render farms or a van full of servers, this guide will steer you to the right people, places, and things.

MANAGEMENT

Tcoder AppUsing TCoder (iOS, $3.99) results in “notes with a timeline” to keep notes from interviews, live presentations and press conferences in sync with, say, audio captured on one of our digital recorder rentals. You can e-mail your notes from within the app, a real time-saver.

Producer (iOS, $14.99) is finely tuned for managing film and video projects. From budgeting and personnel to shooting schedules and inventory, it’s right at hand on the set or in the field. Export PDFs to share with other crew that may be using tablet PC rentals running Windows.

PRODUCTION

ProPrompter (iOS, $9.99; Android, $9.99) does an effective job as a teleprompter on an iPad rental or Android tablet. You can import MS-Word files directly from Word and control scrolling speed, looping, countdown, cue points and more, via Bluetooth remote control if you like.

Softbox Lite (iOS, freeAndroid, free) is a portable lighting system with soft box or light table options, color temperature support for matching white balance and an efficient, minimalist interface. Don’t get caught in the dark again.

AUDIO/VIDEO

Reel Director (iOS, $1.99) offers HD output with little quality loss due to editing, and has a full range of effects, from totally customizable text to 28 unique transitions. With real multitasking, it’s like having iMovie on an iMac – except it’s on an iPad or iPhone.

FiRe 2 appFiRe 2 (iOS, $5.99) is a recent upgrade of the first iPhone recorder to display real-time waveforms accurately, support markers and offer native SoundCloud integration. New features: advanced editing, EQ and effects by Audiofile Engineering, iZotope input processing, Dropbox integration and region support.

CLOUD STORAGE

The last app is actually half app and half service, and comes with a lot of different labels for the same commodity: cloud storage. You can get from 2GB to 10GB free from Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, ASUS WebStorage and Drive from Google, among many others. Why do you need cloud storage? We tell you all about it here and here.

Besides having the post-production gear and trade show convention rentals you need, we can’t stop thinking of new ways to help. So watch for more blogs like this one to give you the top apps for meeting planners, conference organizers, trade show exhibitors, marketing managers, and other professionals. A single call or e-mail puts an experienced Account Executive to work developing solutions uniquely suited to your situation. If you already know what you need, hit the Quick Rental Quote page and get it handled ASAP!

July 7th, 2011

The Confession

Whoa! What’s Kiefer Sutherland doing at the top of the CRE blog? Has CRE “gone Hollywood”?

Truth be told, CRE has been in Hollywood for a long time, if we define “Hollywood” as “the entertainment industry around L.A.” CRE Rentals’ high-end gear (like render farm rentals) and powerful computers (Macs and PCs with the right software) support media professionals from creation through production, post-production and distribution. That last one, distribution, is our subject today – specifically, the new surge of programs going “direct to Web.”

The “old” days?

The year 2000 may not seem like the “old” days, but in Tech Time it’s eons ago. The first “direct-to-Internet movie” debuted that year, a sci-fi story entitled The Quantum Project — it was filmed with a Panasonic DVCPRO50 digital camcorder and good special effects.

When you discover that the movie didn’t stream, but had to be downloaded and watched in Windows Media Player, suddenly it does seem like 2000 was the Stone Age. Finally, a decade after that inauspicious start, the Web is showing signs of maturing into a first-rate distribution channel for original programming, especially since storage aids like Ethernet disk RAID rentals can make workloads shorter than what used to take days.

So where’s Kiefer?

Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt star in the Web series, The Confession, on Hulu.com, comprising 10 seven-minute webisodes. Co-producer Chris Young of Digital Broadcasting Group says the show sets a high bar “for what is possible in original webisodic content” and is clearly aiming at “motion picture quality.” Young expects a “seismic shift in how content of this caliber is released” and believes that well-produced programs could attract audiences rivaling those “of a hit television series.”

Talented pros of many kinds look to CRE for high-powered help, from our people and our equipment. Our AJA Io HD rentals are a great example of how to tackle a big project with Final Cut, for instance. It takes the same general kind of hardware and software to make a webisode as it does to make a movie – they are just delivered in different formats. Even if you want to compress and convert your production to MPEG-4 (mp4, h264) for watching on iPad Rentals, you still must create it at the highest possible resolution, then “repurpose” it for DVD, HDTV, traditional TV broadcast and so on.

From audio visual rentals for your movie set to Xserve rentals for networking, CRE has you covered. If you know what you need, use the handy Quick Rental Quote form. Otherwise, call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive for help in blowing through that bottleneck or ramping up that new project.

July 1st, 2010

Those who lived (even better, worked) through the so-called paradigm shifts in desktop publishing (mid-1980s) and audio recording (through the 1990s) will recognize today’s “digital film revolution” talk. In the early and mid-1980s, when Apple’s LaserWriter teamed up with its Macintosh kin and Aldus Corporation’s PageMaker, some technology observers declared the new publishing model would put “freedom of the press into overdrive” and result in a real renaissance in publishing. It didn’t. In the 1990s, new digital technology put a recording studio in every teen rockers’ computer, but no Grammy Awards were snagged by any of these home recordists. Bottom line, there is no push-button solution.

The changes that technology wrought in printing and recording took years to evolve into new workflows, as the technology was adopted and learned. It’s evolution, not revolution, that drives the creative arts. It is the same with digital filmmaking. Budding filmmakers must understand that just having the same high-tech tools as leading filmmakers doesn’t mean they can make Taxi Driver or Citizen Kane. Buying Apple’s Final Cut Pro doesn’t mean they are going to ace the post-production on that new TV pilot. To work at a professional level, one either has to put in the time to master these things, or get help with them. The reason the indie film industry is slowly but surely becoming an ongoing source of work for L.A. post-production houses is because smart indie filmmakers know when they need help, and are not ashamed to go get it.

Getting the right technology tools

Digital Film Technology Rental The old saying, “It’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools,” makes the point that you need to develop expertise, gain experience and mature in your art and craft. When the soundtrack is weak and the spoken words indistinct, you need a pro’s help. Doing the ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) correctly and mixing the different sounds at the proper levels are all essential for a professional film. The kinds of post facilities that use CRE Mac Pro rentals are just the kinds of places that smart indie filmmakers turn to for those important pieces of the puzzle. For some it means just ADR and mastering, for others it may mean trimming, transitions and fades, rolling credits or even conversion to other digital formats (for iPods, iPads, phones, computers and so on).

As novice filmmakers continue to learn the craft, many will also learn to do post-production, and some will even form new companies to offer their services. For start-up and even existing post-production facilities, the technology tools available and their evolution are essential in driving innovation in digital film making.

CRE supports companies that, in turn, help a lot of up and coming filmmakers. By making everything from AJA Io HD rentals to fast iMac rentals available with a simple e-mail, phone call or Quick Rental Quote form, CRE enables post-production companies to take on work whenever it comes in. In no time at all, we can outfit you to get it all done – with PCs, Macs, Xserve RAID rentals, monitors and any other hardware you need, plus specialized software for your specialized work. Our #1 job is helping you get your jobs done!

February 23rd, 2010

Those of you who read Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, not to mention all the specialty TV-biz newsletters, know that the last six weeks or so have seen a lot of action on the TV pilot front. ABC gave the greenlight to two dramas and a comedy in one day, with Fox, NBC and CBS spreading out their action over a bit more calendar space. Fact is, though, that the pilot season is in full swing, which means companies great and small will be doing title sequences, post-processing, digital effects and other work for the producers of the shows. CRE, of course, specializes in supporting the entertainment industry with the best computers and other high-tech equipment.

Entertainment Industry Rentals

It was not that long ago that it took a room full of computing power to produce a single four-minute cartoon. Now there are independent films being created on single Macintoshes. Even the 17-inch iMac, for example, has a Core 2 Duo processor and a gigabyte of RAM, an unthinkably powerful combination that would have seemed otherworldly in the 2001 TV season (remember The Lone Gunmen?). It is muscular enough for audio/video chores and provides a potent platform for Adobe’s Creative Suite, too.

Technology rentals for the  entertainment industry

Running hither and yon to meetings, day and night? If you take along one of the CRE laptop rentals, like the HP NX9010 with a 3GHz Pentium, you will power your way through them all. You will be in constant contact with its WiFi, and the 1GB of RAM will keep you multitasking with notes, video clips, audio addenda and everything else that is likely to come up. Staying put at your desk? Offload your extra work to your assistant or pilot-season temp, outfitted with an HP/Compaq D510, a desktop rentals star with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4. This rental package comes with a 17-inch LCD monitor, too.

CRE covers you no matter what your production needs. From 30″ Apple Cinema Display rental for a big-screen work window, to powerful video and post solutions like the PowerMac G5 with Kona card rentals, we have it all. No matter what you have to do, we have the equipment to help you get it done, and everything arrives to you tested, double-checked and ready to rock, every time. Even more, we can provide the office equipment rentals to tie everything together – whether it’s an HP 4000N B&W laser printer or an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner. CRE has got you covered.

Need some help configuring a system or figuring out a solution for your pilot season workload? Our Account Executives know what you need and have been helping entertainment industry professionals of all kinds for a long, long time. We know what you’re up against, and we know how to help. Contact us today, or fill out a Quick Rental Quote form if you already know what you need, and we will get on the job for you, right now. We do our best to help you do your best, which is the kind of win-win formula we like.

September 1st, 2009

What we now know as Apple Final Cut Pro, now in version 7 while the Studio package is in version 2, was actually created by Macromedia. That’s the company that took over the venerable FreeHand vector drawing program way back when, and also brought Dreamweaver (née GoLive), Flash and a few other goodies along when Adobe absorbed them in 2005.

Long story short, Macromedia brought a beta version of a program called KeyGrip to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in 1998 (NAB1998) but found no takers. In somewhat of a strategic move, Apple bought up the KeyGrip code and the team that birthed it, added Firewire and DV support, continued developing the product and released it at NAB1999 as Final Cut Pro (FCP).

Meanwhile, its old code and low optimization took Adobe Premiere’s Mac market share steadily downward, to the point that Premiere Pro became a Windows-only product at about the turn of the millennium. Starting then, however, FCP began making serious inroads into the Hollywood movie scene, and by 2007 it had just about half (49%) of the domestic professional editing market, compared to 22% for Avid.

It began with a teen flick

Demonstrating the power and potential of a consumer (more like “prosumer”) product, the teen movie Rules of Attraction was edited on a beta release of FCP3 in 2001. This made the film’s director, Roger Avary, something of an unofficial spokesman for Apple’s editing software, which caused a few industry pros—editors, directors of photography, directors, producers—to take notice. The entertainment world as a whole then noticed, and FCP won an Emmy in 2002 for its “impact on the television industry.”

Mac Rental with Final Cut Pro (FCP)All the Macs that CRE rents—from MacBook Pros to the Mac Pro towers—are able to run FCP, so professional and amateur moviemakers alike can work on their latest masterpieces at home, on a soundstage or on location. Some of the heavy lifting for special effects may take some extra horsepower, additional time or both, but the fact is that FCP has democratized the filmmaking field more than any other product, service, or invention.

Gaining momentum still

There is no doubt that FCP’s involvement in the production of the 2008 Brad Pitt hit, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, sent a powerful “get on board” message to filmmakers still undecided about the software. The movie led the year’s Oscar nominations with a baker’s dozen (13, remember?) and was noteworthy for the excellent look and seamless special effects. Renting CRE’s Mac Pro with FCP gets you the same power that brought a bucket of Oscar noms to this well-regarded film.

Even before Benjamin Button, however, a long list of first-rate films attested to the growing power and popularity of Apple’s editing package (see Mac Movies List, below), including multiple Oscar-winner Cold Mountain, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima and the Best Movie of 2008, No Country for Old Men.

Big help for small films

It’s not only big studios and bankable stars that benefit from the Mac’s creative muscle. Able Edwards, made in 2004 by director Graham Robertson and producer Steve Soderbergh, was shot on a small Hollywood green-screen stage in 15 days on a $30,000 budget. It was edited on a single PowerMac G4 with a mere 2GB of RAM, using FCP alongside Maya, QuickTime and Adobe Photoshop. Five years later, the iMacs that CRE rents have many times the power of that G4, so a low-cost rental can put you in the race for Oscar gold—assuming you have a great script, a talented cast and a distribution deal (YouTube may do in a pinch).

As far as a “movie on a shoestring” story, there’s an even better one. Johnatan Caouette made his a 2003 documentary film, Tarnation, on an iMac for a final budget of $281. If you think that’s impressive, he didn’t even use FCP, he did it all with iMovie. Incredibly, the distributor spent over 1,400 times more (nearly $400,000) promoting the flick and bringing it to theaters. Caouette didn’t even have an external hard drive for storage, much less a RAID array like CRE rents, and dealt with iMovie’s limitations by producing 15 minutes of the film at a time. He would then dump each segment onto his Hi-8 tape master, delete it from the iMac and start up on the next piece.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way—but where there’s a Mac, it’ll save the day. If you are thinking of giving Universal and Paramount some competition, and need a little extra post-production prowess, CRE is here with the right solutions. One of our specialties is supporting animators, editors and special effect pros in the entertainment industry, so contact us by filling out the CRE Quick Quote Rental Form , calling us toll-free at (877) 266-7725 or sending an e-mail for a quick, courteous and knowledgeable response.

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Major films edited with FCP:

Black Snake Moan
Burn After Reading
Cold Mountain
Corpse Bride
Full Frontal
Happy Feet
Intolerable Cruelty
Jarhead
Letters from Iwo Jima
Napoleon Dynamite
No Country for Old Men
Open Water
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Super Size Me
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Ladykillers
The Ring
The Ring 2
The Rules of Attraction
The Simpsons Movie
Zodiac

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