SHARED VIDEO PROJECTS & THE FINAL CUT PRO X
Apple’s Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) is a professional editing, compositing and effects solution that is increasingly popular in freelance circles for film, video and TV post production.
Collaborative editing with FCPX is considerably faster, safer and more productive than hosting media assets on individual workstations. Plus, by reducing the need for high-speed storage arrays for each MacBook Pro and Mac Pro, centralized media sharing can help achieve significant cost-savings.
By having a built-in specific FCPX workspace profile, GB Labs’ SPACE was designed for shared editing environments and can deliver FCPX editors the fastest and most stable platform available.
While sharing Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe’s Premiere Pro, and Grass Valley Edius projects is very straightforward with GB Labs’ SPACE storage systems, unfortunately FCPX was not originally designed to support workgroup environments. However, since 10.0.1 Apple has been working to support FCPX project sharing. It is now a viable option but it still involves a slightly more complex process. There are currently (version 10.0.8) a number of initial steps to take to begin editing collaboratively with FCPX.
Each Mac OS computer has to be set up to select SPACE as a SAN location. Users can then add SPACE as the location in FCPX where Events and Projects can be created. This process is not complicated or difficult for any editor or supervisor with Mac experience: it involves little more than changing a setting in the Finder Preferences. However, it does need to be carried out on each workstation individually and there are still occasional minor glitches to overcome.
Libraries were a new feature in Final Cut Pro X version 10.1 and later. A library contains both projects and events in one place. Think of libraries as a way to collect and organize related projects and events at a higher level. For example, you could use a separate library for each of your professional clients. Alternatively you could use libraries to separate different video productions, each of which contains its own projects and events.
Because a library contains both projects and events, it provides a single consolidated location for all your source media and edits. It’s easy to open and close libraries to access the media you need, and it’s simple to move media and projects between libraries
Once set up, project sharing with FCPX is a slick and productive experience with SPACE. Media is ingested onto Tier 1 SPACE storage. Mac or PC edit, audio and graphics stations can be connected directly via 1Gb Ethernet; many more can join the workgroup with the use of a multi-port switch. All users now have instant, uninterrupted, concurrent access to HD media and project files over the network. FCPX projects open on each Mac workstation fast and efficiently with all links and media in place – there’s no need for duplication of media for every user.
As FCPX is often used in conjunction with other software tools, such as Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D, it is good to know that SPACE can support these packages in a shared environment. Also vital is the system’s ability to work concurrently with Apple, Windows and Linux clients – there’s full support for true multi-disciplinary workgroups.
New assets ingested onto the system are often transcoded, as FCPX prefers to work with the ProRes format. SPACE has the performance simultaneously to accommodate real-time HD editors and to integrate with media processing and encoding nodes for an uninterrupted end-to-end post production workflow.
We recommend that as files are brought onto SPACE, users should plan a structure for the data. A logical folder system on the storage volume will help editors quickly identify and access each media asset and help them use FCPX without a glitch.
To help achieve this consistency, many organizations standardize a defined workflow for where files are stored and where projects are created. Adopting this type of convention makes it unnecessary for editors to re-link projects. They can also hot-desk without having to re-establish pathways in the software.
SETTING UP CLIENT WORKSTATIONS
Attach laptops, workstations (Mac, PC & Linux) to your network with standard 1Gbe connections. Then map a network drive or mount the volume – it’s as simple as that. No client software, no configuration, no driver, no licence, no limit to the number of users.
Networks that run at 10Gb Ethernet are also fully supported: a 10Gb card in the storage units (standard in SPACE) and clients. Again, there is no further configuration required. Even the latest iMac, Mac mini computers and Mac Book Pro laptops can connect to 10Gbe networks with a PCI network adapter card installed in a Sonnet Echo external Thunderbolt chassis.
LOCATION EDITING & SMALL WORKGROUPS
Small workgroups (of 2 – 8 editors) can also share projects with GB Labs products, either in the office or in the field. The desktop Midi devices and portable Mini systems have the performance to undertake sophisticated editing jobs from any location. Simple networking, instant client attachment and sustained performance turns FCPX into a real go-anywhere workgroup NLE.
Many of our users connect Mini and Midi systems to their network on returning to the facility where data is transferred onto SPACE or ECHO for finishing, archiving or back-up.
Typically only active and recent projects and media assets reside on Tier 1 storage. As SPACE is installed on standard IP networks, users can upload or offload data using any workstation. By connecting ECHO Tier 2 storage, no client is required to transfer media from one storage system to another.
Indeed, with GB Labs’ CORE 3 OS development, intelligent hierarchical storage management is built in: periodically, SPACE will automatically transfer aged projects and files onto ECHO for nearline archiving. If editors wish to view an archived project, it is instantly available via ECHO. If they wish to begin re-editing, it can be switched back to SPACE quickly for online editing. FCPX projects that are completed and ready for deep archive are written to LTO-6 or LTO-7 tape, using VAULT LTO, a centralized high-speed system that also resides on the same Ethernet network.
MANAGING MULTIPLE PROJECTS
While SPACE can hold hundreds of projects and many Terabytes of media, locating old projects and archiving numerous completed jobs can be time-consuming. To increase efficiency, many organizations adopt asset management and project sharing systems, such as SquareBox’s CatDV, Focal Point Server, Flavoursys from Strawberry, Cantemo Portal or the Metus MAM Library to track, catalogue, search and process files and projects. SPACE supports third party DAM tools with their streamlined media workflow. With CatDV, for example, FCPX projects can be tracked and retrieved accurately whether they are held on Tier 1, Tier 2 or are archived on LTO tape.
As well as cataloging files and projects, some of these applications offer tools to assign team members and to track the progress of jobs.
TOO MUCH DATA, TOO LITTLE CAPACITY?
As FCPX supports video resolution up-to 4K and high bitrate files, storage capacities can become an issue. SPACE and ECHO can be expanded in minutes with EX expansion modules that dynamically increase the size of your storage. At the same time this can enhance system performance. Alternatively, additional SPACE and ECHO systems can be attached to the network, via a new Ethernet connection.
SPACE’s CORE 3 OS incorporates Active Directory synchronization whereby system administrators can assign security levels to users and groups of users. It is now possible to restrict deletion rights, grant super-user status and specify read/write privileges.
To guard against system outage, SPACE has extensive UPS (universal power supply) support, but if, despite RAID protection, media is damaged, SPACE has data automated backup tools to clone files from SPACE to any other GB Labs storage system including ECHO. Any risk is therefore greatly diminished.
GOING BEYOND HD