Yes, You Can Take It With You

2017 NAB Show Submission
by James McKenna, VP Marketing and Pre-Sales

No, not your earthly wealth, your kids have likely already spent that. Your storage system! Before you sigh and move on to the next article about the latest 10K camera, I’d like to share with you a very slick workflow with the hope that it might give you some inspiration.

Due to the progression of frame size, rate and depth, production crews are finding themselves bringing larger and larger storage arrays on location to capture and view what’s being shot. A typical workflow involves transferring camera original files onto a standalone RAID device and possibly making an additional backup to LTO. The storage unit is taken to the facility and the long copy onto the video storage network is started. Come back in the morning or on Monday and if everything went well, you can start working.

How can we make this better – Satellite uplink? Cloud, WIFI, …Bluetooth? No, you still need storage on-site to capture the footage, verify and back it up. However, that storage doesn’t have to be standalone, and it’s possible to avoid that long copy and the inherent risks that go along with it, not to mention the possible need to re-link media where file paths have changed. Having a small, shared environment on site opens new methods of footage analysis, continuity management, rough assembly, and scene verification. More eyes on the shots ensure you catch any issues before striking set.

You can imagine the advantage for sports-oriented productions. All that footage must come back and be integrated into the larger environment, but you still have a long stay at the arena, stadium, or park. A shared system allows you to put editors on the melts and packages while you’re still on site. When you break down and return the system to the facility, you should be able to instantly connect it up and get everyone working again. No copying required. No searching for media, and no re-linking of project files to new media paths. When speed really matters, and sometimes it really does, there’s no need to wait to copy hundreds or thousands of gigabytes, all the while crossing your fingers in hope that it all gets across. Seems like an obvious win for the facility, but few shared storage networks actually allow for this type of workflow.

Workgroups using Facilis Technology networks are working smart by taking systems like the compact TerraBlock 8D on the road with them. Thanks to the architecture of Facilis shared storage, TerraBlock servers are autonomous. Editors and assistants can simply disconnect a server from the shared network and set it up on location to get a microcosm of the larger network. Once back at the post house, the media from the smaller network can be instantly made available on our high performance shared storage network to all users with permission to access it.

So why can’t this be done with other shared storage systems? Other systems use servers that are joined together in a cluster and can’t be separated, or they simply use drive enclosures that have no ability to work independently and can’t be removed without reformatting the entire drive set. Facilis uniquely uses storage servers as a scalability option. These component servers are all capable of working as the head unit, as a storage component, or as a fully functional SAN system, depending on what you need them to do. We could use a fancy name like “Facilis Dynamic System Segmentation”, but the name doesn’t matter, it’s just the best way to design a system for this purpose.

Adding to this functionality is the Facilis Hub Server. As its name suggests, the Hub gives our customers a central point of access for all the servers on the network. This works very well with the idea of movable server units, providing “hot” add-on to an existing network in production and increasing the overall scalability and performance of the network. The flexibility of a TerraBlock network goes beyond scalability of size and performance, and directly affects your efficiency. As we all know, time is in short supply with today’s accelerated production and post production schedules.

It’s clear that the simplicity in the design of Facilis networks offers advantages over the traditional enterprise NAS and SAN. Now with the Hub Server, we can also provide the seamless scalability of bandwidth and capacity that made those traditional systems so popular. Yes, you can take your shared storage network with you, but it’s important to pick a system with the architecture that allows it.  As file sizes and the amount of media only continues to grow, select the storage network that will avoid the lost time that might really matter on your next production.

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