The birth of the integrated production environment
In 2005 Apple introduced Xsan and changed the way Final Cut Pro editors were able to work together. Fast, shared storage for creative teams opened up incredible opportunity and fueled highly productive workflows by allowing collaboration in a flexible work environment. The further introduction of Final Cut Server in 2008 was meant to address the need to manage all of the media stored on a large Xsan, as production environments became more unwieldy and complex.
Together, with these three complementary technologies: Final Cut Pro, Xsan and Final Cut Server, Apple created a formidable solution at an unprecedented price point accessible to almost any creative team. This powerful combined solution was rapidly adopted in all corners of the industry and helped grow the market tremendously. It’s important to understand that while shared storage is one of the keys to making collaborative workflows possible, it comes with inherent challenges. Unmanaged storage that grows in an ad hoc fashion can become very difficult to maintain, especially when the system grows to hundreds, if not thousands, of Terabytes and must support a large number of users with disparate needs.
Meeting tough deadlines demands that everyone work in a disciplined fashion and follow strict guidance about where files are kept and how long they should be retained. This is difficult at the best of times and almost impossible in fast-paced production environments. Without that diligent maintenance, an Xsan volume can devolve into an unorganized collection of files–with good files mixed with unwanted files–where it is difficult to find and distinguish different versions, and where nobody can find what they need in a timely manner. This leads to lost production time, inefficiency, and missed opportunities when time could be spent on productive work and earning revenue instead. Final Cut Server provided the means to solve this storage management problem for Final Cut Pro editors in an Xsan environment. It provided the tools to create policies and rules to manage storage and workflow automations, as well as mechanisms to make files readily available to each user as required. With Final Cut Server, users could ingest files directly from Final Cut Pro, manage projects and work with a rich metadata schema to search and locate clips, as well as trigger transcodes via an easy-to-use interface that required minimal knowledge of the background technologies. For the customers that embraced this solution the opportunity to create dynamic workflows was a revelation. Final Cut Server offered a new kind of intelligence and level of integration. With it, companies could create systems that could finally manage files and storage resources.
The need for a moderns production workflow with intelligence
Today’s fast-paced, and increasingly complex production workflow will surely continue to evolve as new source and output requirements are added, and as customers demand even faster production and more use of creative content over a much longer timeframe. The speed of change and continued deadline pressure means companies need to find solutions that are able to engage with the systems they rely on today, but at the same time keep pace with each development and provide a platform for future shifts.
Xsan customers that grasped the benefits of adopting an asset management system want a solution that keeps up with the times and gives them new levels of flexibility and capability not imagined before.
Cantemo and StorNext
Cantemo Portal provides an asset management toolset that is at once familiar and entirely radical. It features a core set of powerful tools that can support small groups of users or an entire enterprise. The foundation system can be extended and modified to accommodate advanced specifications or new technologies. The browser-based interface takes user experience seriously and offers an unprecedented level of flexibility. Portal is not just one tool, but an asset management platform that can be customised and extended to suit individual requirements.
Cantemo is aware there are organisations that have invested heavily in Xsan and are now searching for the most viable alternatives for Final Cut Server. For this reason Cantemo have worked to facilitate an equally smooth migration path. For companies that continue to rely on Final Cut Server, the entire media catalogue can be simply converted and redeployed within Portal. This process encompasses all media files, metadata and ACLs, productions, ingest, export and editorial workflows, as well as external scripts and automation triggers. Crucially, Portal also provides tools to integrate with legacy versions of Final Cut Pro. This means the switch to a new system can be managed in phases. Once Portal has been established, the organisation is free to work with the latest NLE of their choice, whether that is Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro CC, Media Composer or a combination of the three. The Cantemo Archive Framework and the Cantemo Transcoder Framework mean that other tools can be seamlessly integrated. This is very important for companies that need to maintain existing investments in the associated technologies. At the same time, the forward-thinking partnership with Quantum means that Portal is able to leverage the latest advances in the StorNext 5 Workflow and Lattus Object-Based Extended Online.
Portal will intelligently manage media files throughout the entire lifecycle from ingest, through production, to distribution and archive. For systems that employ multiple tiers of storage, Portal can be configured to minimise the burden of the archive and restore process. In that context file system management becomes something that it is largely transparent to end users, the media is simply available at the right time and in the appropriate format.