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Lenovo’s ThinkPad W520 Mobile Workstation Praised By Indie Filmmaker

Indie filmmaker Michael Suan recently did a lengthy interview with Lenovo on why he settled on using the Lenovo ThinkPad W520 mobile workstation for editing his new film called AKP: Job 47:

“We considered doing post-production on a MacBook Pro, but we realized that it was ill-suited for handling RED EPIC footage at 4K resolution so we used a ThinkPad W520 mobile workstation. There are a couple of key ways the ThinkPad really helped us.”

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“For graphics rendering, its workstation-class GPUs and Adobe Premiere were essential. We needed a machine with a certified Quadro 2000 GPU to do the hardware acceleration of RED footage for smooth, real-time editing of 4K material. The W530’s four DIMMs for RAM (max of 32 GB) gave us plenty of memory to handle rendering the intensive workflow.”

“We needed a lot of CPU power for rendering and final outputting the film at 4K resolution. The W520 handled it like a champ with the Intel quad core i7 Extreme processor. This allowed us to do everything we needed in real-time. We did not have to render 99 percent of the effects in the film during editing (including color timing, transitions, grain and film filters, opticals, titles and overlays). The only ones needing rendering were advanced aerial stabilization shots that we took from a helicopter.”

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“The W520 has three storage drive slots, whereas others have two. That allowed us to fit the ThinkPad with three SSDs: one mSata SSD for operating system and software, one SSD for rendering and one SSD for storage (minus optical drive). Having triple SSDs inside the machine made it a true editing workstation because the software and OS can run independently on their own SSD, while rendering and raw data storage run on their own dedicated SSD. You have zero bottlenecking during the editing process. This isn’t possible on any other laptop – we’ve checked.”

“The icing on the cake with the W520 is its wide gamut 95% LCD display at 1080p resolution. This let us do on-the-spot color timing through the REDs Debayer tool without having to bring along a wide gamut timing monitor. Again, no other laptop has this feature. With an Intel Extreme quad core i7 CPU, a Quadro 2000 GPU, 32 GB or RAM, three dedicated SSDs and a wide gamut 1080p display all built into one machine the W520 is the end all of mobile post production computers. We were able to compose the rough-cut, fine-tune the final cut, and output the 1080p masters, DCP 4K master and BluRay master all on the same machine. It’s the only laptop that I’ve ever seen be able to spit out a 4K DPX and compose a DCP in a reasonable time frame.”

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AKP: Job 27 (A Killer’s Path), is still an interesting film to those who are unfamiliar with the art-house genre. It is a hybrid of gangster, noir and romance. The story is centered around a stoic Yakuza hitman who is sent from Tokyo to North America to complete his 27th job. Upon arriving, he begins to fall in love with a local prostitute who reminds him of his lost love.

You can read the entire interview over at Lenovo’s blog post.