Affordable Shared Storage Solution for Video Editors

Affordable Shared Storage Solution for Video Editors

In 2016, The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be opening on the National Mall, in Washington, DC, right next to the Washington Monument.  I was honored to be hired by Black Robin Media as a DP and chief editor for a series of videos that will be part of several featured exhibits in the museum. This project has been a giant adventure, covering music, movies, TV, sports and many other aspects of Black life over the centuries. Our post production team consists of three editors working on three separate Mac based edit systems.  Because of a combination of ever-shifting delivery schedules and client approvals, we wanted to design a strategy that would allow each editor the ability to access any project at any time and pick up right where the last editor left off. We also wanted to be able to seamlessly work on all the projects from any of the three edit systems.

Our main challenge was to keep all three systems in sync and up-to-date at all times.  An ideal solution would be to employ a system likeEditShare or Avid Unity ISIS.  Even though we’re working in Adobe Creative Cloud, specifically CC, ISIS could have proved a powerful solution. and have collaborated to make it possible for Premiere Pro to take full advantage of the ISIS Shared Storage.  Sadly that solution was financially and technologically out of reach. A simpler and more affordable option would have been to employ a single network attached storage device like a Drobo, Synology orQ-Nap, as a central repository of media assets and project files, that all three edit systems could source from.  Unfortunately, the network connection in our offices is not reliable enough to sustain the data throughput necessary for smooth and efficient . Alternatively, we could have executed nightly back ups to a central NAS. That way, if one of us needed to pick up on a fellow editors project, we could just pull from the previous night’s backup.  While that is a workable solution, we feared the slow ramp-ups with all the file transfers and re-linking, not to mention the potential of getting out of sync with which version is the most recent – the one on the edit system or the one in the NAS.

The Solution – BitTorrent

Our team is a lean, effective and creative operation, as such, we were searching for the most efficient and cost-effective system that would allow any editor to work on any project, from any machine in the office at any time. (I know, that’s a lot of anys.)  Each edit system consisted of some variety of iMac or MacPro, with a 12TB Promise Technologies Pegasus 5 attached, running the latest versions of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of applications. After exhaustive research, we decided on a product call, Sync by BitTorrent.

What is Sync?

Sync is a simple, fast and secure way to share and sync files, leveraging the of BitTorrent.

According to Wikipedia:

BitTorrent is a communications protocolfor the practice of peer-to-peer file sharingthat is used to distribute large amounts ofdata over the Internet. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and peer-to-peer networks.

Yep, that’s right, this is the technology that powers all those pirate movie sharing services, but Sync has nothing to with that behavior.  What BitTorrent technology offers us with Sync is, it allows for virtually real-time syncing of all the data related to every project.  It’s sorta like an automated, shared cloud storage – without the need to actually store anything in the cloud.  So, as new data is created on one of our edit systems, that data is synced over the Internet to a mirrored project folder on the RAIDs attached to our other two edit systems.

Advantages

One of the advantages of BitTorrent technology is it’s blazing fast. Sync advertises its file transfers as 16 times faster than most cloud services. Along with that speed is that fact that the data transfer does not need to be contiguous. So if a large file transfer is interrupted by a power outage, network failure, or simply one of the other systems be rebooted, the transfer does not need to start again from the beginning. The data transfer picks up where it left off, the next time the network connection is reestablished. The really nice thing about all this is, none of this activity seems to have any negative impact on core system performance.

The advantages go far beyond being able to pick up and work on any project from anywhere. We’re also all able to easily access and use assets from any project, at any time. Since each edit system is working off its own directly connected RAID, There are no issues created due to network lag or congestion. And most important is the redundancy. Since the data syncing is happening virtually in real-time, each time a project is saved, a new file is created or a new piece of media is added – a copy (or backup) is synced to each of the other two system’s RAIDs.  There’s no worry of lost project data at any point in the process.

How Does It Work?

Sync’s user interface is very clean and intuitive. Once installed it’s as simple as identifying a folder to sync (share) and sharing the folder with teammates.  There is a key associated with each folder you choose to share.  You have the option of sharing that key link via email, copy and paste the key or via a QR code, which can be scanned with a mobile device. (Did I mention that Sync also works on mobile?)

Before sharing you also have the option to set permissions to a read/write for read-only mode. This is very handy for working with partners who may need to track the progress of the project but are not active contributors. Once the key link is received at the other end. The user simply clicks on the link to activate syncing.  If Sync is not already installed, the user is prompted to download and install the app.  Once installed, it’s just matter of pointing to where you want to store the synced/shared data and Sync starts the initial data transfer. It’s that simple.

Although we didn’t do it for this project, now that we have the system in place, it makes it much easier for us to work with collaborators at remote locations. We can easily share our projects with colorist, designers, composers, sound designers and of course, other editors.  They can have access to all the same assets that we have in the office and we all can collaborate effortlessly.

Cost

Did I forget to mention that everything described is in the free version of Sync?

The free version offers:

  • No file size limits
  • Unlimited number of folders
  • Sync across all mobile platforms

For $39.95, the Pro version offers:

  • All Free features +
  • Automatically add folders across all your devices
  • Save space with Selective Sync
  • Dynamically control access permissions

The needs of our project only scratched the surface of all that Sync offers. For more information about Sync visit https://www.getsync.com/

Atomos Shogun 4k HDMI Recorder

Atomos Shogun 4k HDMI Recorder

Atomos_Showgun_4K

At NAB 2014, Atomos launched their new Atomos Shogun 4k HDMI recorder.  One thing to note is the ability to record 4k via HDMI. That will make this a very good companion for the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony a7S.

Press Release

[su_quote]

ATOMOS SHOW NEW 4K HDMI MONITOR/RECORDER AT NAB 2014

?Melbourne, Australia – April 7th, 2014: Atomos, the creator of the award-winning Ninja and Samurai camera-?mounted recorders, and the pocket-sized Connect converters, will launch the new 4K Apple ProRes and RAW capable 12G-SDI and 4K HDMI Shogun at NAB 2014, (7-10 April, Las Vegas Convention Center, booth number
?C9532).

“Shogun is the culmination of everything we stand for, amazing edit codec’s from the sensor like 4K ProRes and RAW Cinema DNG. Affordable 4K recording through Raided HDD’s and SSD’s and unbelievable custom panels for monitoring”. said Jeromy Young, CEO and Founder of Atomos. “Super light and slim and at a price point under 2K. We offer a faster more affordable camera to timeline workflow with revolutionary 4K cameras from Sony, Panasonic and Canon”.

The new Atomos Shogun is the world’s first 12G SDI & 4K HDMI I/O monitor recorder and deck and features a stunning 1920×1080 SuperAtom IPS 7? touchscreen 325 PPI 179-degree viewing. 400nit brightness and multi-frequency (48/50/60Hz) operation, depending on video input, giving super-smooth monitoring and playback.

The Shogun utilises both 4K and HD clean output from HDMI cameras such as the latest Sony A7S, Panasonic GH4, 4K SDI C500, and can record 24, 25 or 30p from the camera and up to 120fps HD if the camera is capable. It also has genlock in for synced playout and features optional Wifi for remote control from iOS or Android devices. Improved audio handling with the included Lemo breakout cable for XLR Audio gives balanced audio, mic and Phantom power.

?Since the company was founded in 2010 Atomos have broken new ground in the design and functionality of ?recording, monitoring and playback devices. Atomos strive to set new standards by working closely with camera manufactures on essential features like auto record trigger, matching timecode and increased recording ?capability.

Like the Samurai and Ninja Blade, Shogun allows you to set up the shot with waveform and monitor assist tools, ?record pristine, 422 10-bit images straight from the camera sensor directly, all to inexpensive single SSDs or RAIDed HDDs, captured using 4K/HD ProRes, Uncompressed RAW Cinema DNG or Avid DNxHD codecs.

[/su_quote]

Say Hello to Avid Media Composer 7

Say Hello to Avid Media Composer 7

image

Avid has released its pro-grade non-linear editor, Media Composer 7, as part of its NAB 2013 news. New features in Media Composer 7 include the following: AMA media management — Media linked via Avid Media Access (AMA) now benefits from the complete suite of industry-leading media management tools formerly reserved for native Avid media. Dynamic media folders — Accelerates and simplifies AMA media management tasks automatically in the background. FrameFlex™ tool and LUT support — Enables editors to ingest 2K, 4K, and 5K media with real-time color space conversion and deliver content directly to HD. Master Audio Fader — Enables editors to control overall program volume and insert plug-ins for compression, equalization, and compliance metering. Clip Gain — Editors can adjust gain on a specific clip, independent of track-based automation, without engaging separate audio tools. Symphony Color Correction option — Lets editors add advanced color correction tools previously found only in Avid Symphony. Interplay Sphere for Mac — Enables creative teams to edit, share, tag, track, and sync media as it flows through the production process anywhere in the world (Media Composer Interplay Edition required). Media Composer 7 now retails for $999. A version that offers the ability to connect to Avid Interplay will retail for $1499. [via Avid]

FCP X Updated – Is There Still A Place For It?

FCP X Updated – Is There Still A Place For It?

 

Remember that big FCP SuperMeet at NAB 2011 that announced FCP X and everyone went wild in anticipation. Then the app finally dropped for an unheard of price of $300. It seemed for a minute that FCP X was set to flip the NLE industry on its head, but just a minute later it became quite clear that this was not the post tool that most pro editors could depend on, despite some truly amazing new features. 

Yesterday, Apple released an update to FCP X that makes some strides toward wooing back the pros who jumped ship, in a big way, for Avid and Premiere.  The latest update delivers a 64 camera multicam feature, a very advance chroma key feature, and finally XML and the ability to work with directly with 3rd party plugins, app, and peripherals from the likes of AJA, Blackmagic and Matrox. Many will be happy to know the Magic Bullet Look is working natively.

I think the best FCP X feature that may give Apple a chance at regaining some of those defected Editors is it’s price.  At just $300, it pretty easy for most pros to keep a copy of the app on their system, alongside whatever they’re working with today.  As new features are added, you can easily give them a test drive.  It may be a pretty tough sell to get switchers to switch back, but I still have very high hopes for the future of FCP X. 

Read more about update to FCP X here.