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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – November 30, 2017

HOST
Larry Jordan

GUESTS
Larry O’Connor, President & Founder, Other World Computing
Gary Watson, Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Nexsan
David Schleifer, Chief Operations Officer, Primestream
Peter Agelasto IV, Founder, Digital ReLab
Greg Crosby, Director of Product Line Management, G-Technology (A Western Digital Brand)

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Announcer:  The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by KeyFlow Pro, media asset management software, designed to meet the needs of work groups at an affordable price.

Larry Jordan:  Tonight on the Buzz we are looking at storage and media asset management, both at the center of media today.  We start with Larry O’Connor, the founder and president of Other World Computing.  OWC is a well known developer of storage products, so tonight we talk with Larry about what he sees as coming trends in storage technology.

Larry Jordan:   Gary Watson is the chief technical officer for Nexsan.  They’ve designed shared storage systems for media creators. Tonight Gary talks about the challenges of designing shared storage for media editing.

Larry Jordan:   David Schleifer is the chief operations officer of Primestream.  They specialize in creating highly flexible enterprise level media asset management systems and tonight David explains the tools and pricing behind theirs.

Larry Jordan:  Peter Agelasto is the founder of Digital ReLab.  They make a media asset management system designed for creatives who think visually.  Tonight he describes what their system is and the thinking that went behind it.

Larry Jordan:  Greg Crosby is the director of product line management for G-Technology.  G-Tech is legendary in the media industry so tonight we chat with Greg about the differences between spinning media and flash, and how to pick the right storage for your next project.

Larry Jordan:  The Buzz starts now.

Announcer:  Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution.  From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.

Larry Jordan:  Welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.

Larry Jordan:  Hi, my name is Larry Jordan.  This show began when I wrote a blog talking about the importance of storage to our video editing systems.  As we move into larger frame sizes, faster frame rates, HDR, even VR, our file sizes balloon.  Our computers for the most part can keep up with this easily, but our storage, well that’s a different problem.

Larry Jordan:  Yesterday’s technology won’t work with tomorrow’s media.  Then with the average video project shooting multiple terabytes of data, finding the right shot is increasingly difficult.  That’s where media asset management systems come in.  But oh, what a range of options we have.  Tonight, we talk with two companies at just about opposite ends of the spectrum about their system and how it works with media.

Larry Jordan:  By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com.  Every issue, every week provides quick links to all the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers.  And best of all, it’s free and comes out every Saturday.

Larry Jordan:  I’ll be back with Larry O’Connor and a discussion of storage technology right after this.

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Larry Jordan:  Larry O’Connor is the founder of OWC, which stands for Other World Computing, and a long time guest on the Buzz.  Hello Larry, welcome back.

Larry O’Connor:  Hey, glad to be here Larry, thanks for having me back.

Larry Jordan:   I want to set the scene a bit here.  How long has OWC been developing storage products?

Larry O’Connor:  Our first forays into storage go back to 1990, so we’ve been doing storage products for 27 years.  In fact, it was about 1992 that we had the very first bus powered storage which at that time, bus powered off your floppy port.  Don’t see many floppies around anymore.

Larry Jordan:  Well you must have been six when you started that.  What was it that got you interested in storage in the first place?

Larry O’Connor:  It was computer technology in general.  What systems came with was never enough and the opportunities to expand externally, plus at that time with scuzzy hard drives which were light speed now compared to the floppy drives and everything else that was available at the time, it was a total win win.  Mass storage, convenience and incredible speed.

Larry Jordan:  Which gets me to my next question.  Folks have been predicting the death of spinning media for the last several years.  How come it hasn’t died yet?

Larry O’Connor:  I don’t think that those folks have their own money in the budgets that they spend because solid state is really expensive in terms of mass storage.  And the other aspect is spinning drives continue to substantially grow in capacity and in performance.  Nothing beats Flash but for things that you’re not editing, even when you are doing edit on a big project, once you’ve got the work in, it’s on the media that need it to be on, Flash offers advantages, but from a peer performance versus cost standpoint, spinning media’s not half bad and complete major projects are still done on spinning media because they’re in real time.  As long as the throughput with today’s Raids and Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3, give you the performance that you need, you’re not gaining anything by having Flash.  There’s lots of things Flash is great for, but there’s plenty of things that spinning media is far from obsolete in terms of its application.

Larry Jordan:  As our file sizes are continuing to grow geometrically, because VR is four times bigger than HD, and HDR is four times bigger, and 4K is four times bigger, suddenly we’re 16, 20 times bigger than the file sizes that we’ve ever worked with before.  Is capacity the only thing we need to think about when we’re buying new storage?

Larry O’Connor:  You know the nice thing about capacity, as long as you’re not buying archive drives, the performance drives as their density goes up, so does their performance because that is packed closer, or there’s more heads.  You have more platters that are being read from.  Performance is very important, but to be quite honest, as these capacities go up, performance is going up with them which certainly kind of helps to keep pace with those demands and putting these latest CK12 terabytes together, you’re pushing in a Raid now, well over 1,000 megs, closer to 1200 megs a second, sustained when you’re using the outer tracks on the drive.

Larry Jordan:  How do we determine what kind of storage bandwidth we need?

Larry O’Connor:  The AJA has a very nice utility that will tell you what you can do with a drive.  Quite frankly, you can do just about everything if you’re sustaining more than 1000 megabytes a second, there’s a capture and edit for transactional things.  Obviously for copy, for other ingest, your limitations are the slowest point in your chain, whatever you’re transferring to or from.  It’s really going to come down to your application of what it can do, and the computer you have.  We look at Thunderbolt 3 and storage in general, a bigger limitation, the bottleneck that you more often run into does not have to be your storage, it’s more going to be the computer or something else that’s in the middle.

Larry Jordan:  When we’re thinking about storage, storage still is not cheap.  It’s becoming less expensive than it used to, but not cheap, so we’re interested in getting value for the money.  How long should drives last?  In other words, how soon do we need to replace our gear from a planning point of view?

Larry O’Connor:    Truly drives will still last for a long time, but in terms of a production environment where you want to be able to count on that to not need a replacement mid stream, every two to three years is probably reasonable in terms of rotating active drives into archive, and even then, utilities like softRAID are really fantastic because they’ll tell you what the health of the drive is, how that drive’s performing, so you know that even if you’re putting it into an archive use, you never want to put a drive that’s failing into any continued dependency.

Larry O’Connor:  You say drives aren’t cheap.  500 megabytes back in 1995, a deal was under $300, we were the first to hit that point with a pretty cool deal between Digital Equipment Corp and these bus power solutions we had.  Today, you’re talking about 5 terabytes for not much more than $100, so a third the cost, and a thousand times the capacity.  I think storage is pretty cheap, but our demands have gone up because these files keep getting bigger, so a different way to look at is, storage is not really cheap in terms of how fast files have gotten larger, so if you need 1,000 files to be stored, 1,000 photos to be stored on your drive, you need a much bigger drive today to do that than you did a few years ago.  You cannot forget and take advantage of how fast stuff is today.  100 megabytes a second was fast three, four, five, six years ago for sure.  Today we’re pushing five or 600 is OK.  800, 900 is pretty fast.  Over 1000 now you’re starting to get there.  2000 megs a second?  Now you’re really fast.

Larry Jordan:  Well, as we will discover in an interview a little later in the show, to do 4K HDR video is almost two gigs a second.  Two gigs a second.  That’s a ton of data that’s moving across the pipe.

Larry O’Connor:  And you can do it with copper which is amazing.

Larry Jordan:  Here’s my hard question.  Are you sitting down?

Larry O’Connor:  I’m standing up because I kind of like to stay on my feet.  But if you think I should sit down, I’ll sit down.

Larry Jordan:  Make yourself comfortable, whatever’s important.  I wanted to buy some network attached storage because I needed some server type gear, and I obviously went to the OWC site first and didn’t see any.  How come you guys don’t have any network attached storage?

Larry O’Connor:  We have a line up that’s been under development for a couple of years.  We have Jupiter which is really high end and that’s something we’re going to bring to the mid stream.  There’s all sorts of NAS stuff that’s OK out there.  When we introduce NAS into the single user, the home, small business type capacity, we want something that’s a little different than every other NAS out there.  We have the ability to bring really high performance into that space and we just want to do it right.  We do sell some other brand NAS products but when our name’s on a NAS product, it’s going to be more than a NAS product, but certainly the value will be there and the performance and everything else that we like to deliver.  Right now, we don’t just want to put our name on somebody else’s box, or have a box that’s just like everyone else’s.  So give us a bit of time, we’ve got some pretty cool things in that space and higher up from that, are Jupiter products.  Those are for multiple stations and collaboration.  Really fast, expandable up to a petabyte, and truly gets amazing things done and we’re looking forward to giving a big part of that performance down to something that everybody can bring home.

Larry Jordan:  I’ve got my calendar out, I will time you.  One last question, one of the new things in High Sierra is a new file system from Apple called APFS.  Do you have opinions on it?

Larry O’Connor:  There’s a lot of benefits to APFS but if you’re on a hard drive or a hard drive array, there’s a lot of significant disadvantages.  We’ve actually got some blogs up at Rocket Yard which is blog.maxsales.com, recent ones give some nice visuals in terms of how APFS works, but Apple demonstrated at their keynote how fast it duplicates files.  You press a button, and blink and it’s already finished the duplication process.  It’s all metadata, and by the way in terms of stability of the file system and all the improvements people have been looking for for years over HFS Plus, APFS delivers a ton of that.  But when it comes to how it handles files, when you duplicate a file, you’re effectively creating two sets of tracks would be one way to look at it, but every time you make a modification to the duplicate, its creating additional fragments that align with the original file data, but they’re stored someplace else.  And while on a Flash drive it doesn’t matter because there’s no physical location, to read that data on a hard drive when data’s not together and contiguous, it substantially reduces performance and if you have file duplication like that on a hard drive with APFS, a whole lot of times you edit and work on a file you end up with fragments that can be far away from the original file and there’s nothing yet to really optimize that.  Worse, with Time Machine, it’s just a big old mess because it’s really intelligent in terms of its … and such but the actual practicality of loading those different versions of the same file because you have the original file, all of that data, and that’s always maintained, but then all of the edits, everything that happens after that, all the new duplications, they’re all little fragments that get stored in different places and performance on a hard drive with APFS is substantially lower than what you get with HFS plus.

Larry O’Connor:  If you ask me, I’d wait as long as possible before going to 10.13.  That’s my personal opinion.  Lots of pluses.  There’s a lot of cool things but there are those that have hard drives, and again I can’t reiterate enough, for your hard drives, leave them HFS plus.  Do not at this point do APFS.  We’re working on some pretty cool solutions that will make APFS better on a hard drive, but for the typical user, you’re going to want to avoid APFS I think on drives just the way that file system works.

Larry Jordan:  I could talk with you for another four or five hours but I think I’ve got to let you go.  For people who want more information about the products and services OWC offers, where do they go on the web?

Larry O’Connor:  A great place where you can see everything is macsales.com.

Larry Jordan:  Those are two websites, the first is macsales.com.  And OWCdigital.com.  Larry O’Connor is the founder of OWC and Larry, thanks for joining us today.

Larry O’Connor:  Always a pleasure Larry.  Thank you again for having me.

Larry Jordan:  Gary Watson is the chief technical officer of Nexsan which is a storage company.  Hello Gary, welcome back.

Gary Watson:  Hello Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  In tonight’s show we’re talking about storage and media asset management.  Where does Nexsan fit in?

Gary Watson:  Nexsan manufactures storage.  We’ve been making storage for about 18 years.  We sell to all the major film studios, television cable networks, post houses, feature animation studios, in house corporate organizations, the church broadcasting networks, all kinds of people like that.

Larry Jordan:  But it sounds like you’re talking to larger groups?  People with bigger budgets, is that true?

Gary Watson:  We have an interesting attribute of our storage products in that you can directly connect editing base directly to them.  So we have a lot of small organizations that simply buy one storage shelf and connect up to six video editors right to it.  We have everything from little 18 drive deployments up to thousands of drives.

Larry Jordan:  So rather than have to go through a switch, the editing workstation will plug directly into your unit?

Gary Watson:  Yes.  Via either ten gig Ethernet or eight or 16 gig fiber channel typically.

Larry Jordan:  Which gives you performance that should handle just about any workflow?

Gary Watson:  Yes.  We had an interesting test result come back from one of our partners, Bright Technologies that they were testing how many streams they could do.  I just got this today.  They said they did on 4K UHD, which is about as high as people go routinely today, 1895 megabytes a second per stream, they were able to sustain two read streams and one write stream, at that bandwidth on one of our storage boxes, which is a great number.  So, with smaller streams of course, your typical red dragon things, they were testing up to 55 streams out of one box.

Larry Jordan:  Well with so many storage options, what questions should we ask to make sure that we’re getting the storage system that’s best for us?

Gary Watson:  I think one of the key decisions people have to make today is whether they want to go spinning disc or flash.  Flash is always better if you can afford it.  But it’s typically something like ten times more expensive per terabyte.  As media people we’re interested in dollars per terabyte typically.  Spinning discs are just as fast as Flash for sequential workloads, so most video applications are in fact sequential.  An exception might be transcoding.  But most of the stuff we do day to day with film and television is sequential, and so it plays into the strengths of the hard drives.  And hard drives are definitely inexpensive and there was an argument there that for a while we thought that prices would converge, that Flash and spinning disc would be roughly equivalent.  But the spinning disc people have announced a new technology where they heat up the media using microwaves called MAMR is the technology, which is going to make the disc drives five to ten times bigger than they are today.  And we’re already shipping 12 terabyte hard drives today.

Larry Jordan:  This gets me to the core question which is that media files are exploding in size and quantity.  What challenges does that create for you as a company?

Gary Watson:  It doesn’t create a lot of challenges for us because our capacities are growing along with the pace of the advances in video technology.  We’re pleased to see that they’re increasing, because obviously that’s good for us.  But it doesn’t create a problem for us because we’ve designed products that are designed to work with giant file sizes and giant disc sizes really without limit.  So when somebody wants to store a petabyte of data, we can definitely do that, that’s not a problem at all.  In fact we have customers who have nearly 100 petabytes on the floor.  So the high capacity thing’s not a problem for us and also as you go to these high capacity hard drives, you’re finding that the smaller boxes we make, such as 18 drives that you can load only half full if you want to, that may be enough for an entry level, two or three editor type environment.

Larry Jordan: That gets to a bigger question for me.  I mean, there’s only two or three disc manufacturers in the world, so what special sauce does Nexsan bring, because I can buy a Western Digital disc from just about anybody?

Gary Watson:  Yes, we use the same hard drives, from HDST or Seagate or whatever.  Depending on the product.  We manufacture the enclosure they go in, so we manage them and provide the fault tolerance for the discs.  We make sure that if a disc fails or a media error occurs on the disc, which they do occur, that we recover from that, usually without any interruption to the user.  And if you have hundreds of terabytes of data, you don’t want to pull up a clip one day and get a media error that renders your project dead because you can’t get past that.  So we handle the fault tolerance technologies that permit you to withstand the failure of an entire disc or multiple discs and continue running like it never happened and replace it while it’s still running.  So that’s the piece of technology we add to the puzzle.

Larry Jordan:  How do we budget for storage costs?

Gary Watson:  We sell through resellers, so our resellers charge how much they want, but I would say the typical Nexsan box goes out less than $200 a terabyte, and just to put that in perspective, a Cloud Storage solution, typically like Amazon S3 for example, charges you $20 a month per terabyte.  So that works out to like six months worth of cloud payments I think.  There are some situations where cloud makes more sense for some people, as maybe a DR site, but our on premise storage prices are so low these days that the cost of the hardware is almost nothing, and the warranties are cheap as well.

Larry Jordan:  Which gets me to my last question.  Where can people go on the web to learn more about your products?

Gary Watson:  We have a website.  It’s www.nexsan.com.  The typical media customer should be looking at our E series product, but we also have collaborative technologies called Unity which is another possible option.

Larry Jordan:  That website is all one word, nexsan.com and Gary Watson is the chief technical officer for Nexsan, and Gary, thanks for joining us today.

Gary Watson:   Thank you.

Larry Jordan:  A 25 year veteran of the technology industry, David Schleifer previously held key executive positions at Avid Technology where he built and managed the business strategy for the media and entertainment market.  Now he’s the chief operating officer for Primestream, a company specializing in media management.  Hello David, welcome.

David Schleifer:   Hello Larry, glad to be here with you.

Larry Jordan:   How would you describe Primestream?

David Schleifer:   Primestream’s an interesting company.  It’s focused on asset management but also on the dynamic part of it, so dynamic media management, which for us means that it’s not just asset management, it’s all of the rules based engine underneath it that makes it do what you really need it to do when you need it to do it.

Larry Jordan:   What does that mean?  The dynamic asset management?  I mean, it’s a database that says, “Here’s your assets” right?

David Schleifer:   That’s a big part of it, but having your assets in the right place, when you want them, in the right format when you need them, perhaps managing the life cycle of the assets so that it gets archived at the appropriate time with the appropriate metadata.  Those are all functions of the dynamic part.

Larry Jordan:   Well how does your system work?

David Schleifer:   The first thing I’d say is we need to listen and we need to understand what your requirements are.  Of course you could just use it, but to really make it sing and to make it tune to your requirements, we have to understand them.  Do you want the formats converted?  Are you a standalone facility or are you a multi site facility?  Do you need that media to be moved, transcoded?  All of those things are rules based actions that we can take place.  As media comes in, basically you’re going to go through the process of capturing it, managing it, producing with it, and distributing it and we help every step along the way.

Larry Jordan:   It sounds like you’ve got a much bigger view of media asset management than simply helping an editor find a particular shot?  You’re really taking media from the moment its created until post distribution, is that true?

David Schleifer:   We can.  We can also just sit in one small part of the workflow, but I think it all works best even if you’re not using us, if you’re thinking through the whole process.  When you come to extract value from an asset, either because you’re in the middle of using it or because you used it several months ago and want to get back at it, that all depends on the whole workflow that you’ve put in place around it, what metadata you’ve gathered around it, your ability to reach where you’ve put it.  All of those are important components of designing the workflow.

Larry Jordan:   I was looking at your website and Primestream has a who’s who of major media companies as clients.  However, vast amounts of media are being required by smaller companies and independent producers.  Can they even afford your products?

David Schleifer:   Absolutely.  It’s all scalable and we’re working to put solutions in the Cloud which would be much more you spaced.  It’s not the type of system that is all Cadillac, and again, because of the nature of how we build it, you only buy the licenses you need and you buy the services you need to accomplish your workflow.  So there’s no need to be frightened off and to think that if you’re not buying a whole fleet of vehicles, that you can’t touch the system.

Larry Jordan:  How would you describe a starter system?  Where is it priced?

David Schleifer:  That’s a good question and it’s hard to give out price points, but let’s say in the under $100,000 range you could manage multiple users, 240 terabytes of storage included.  I’m including all the peripheral cost for the systems, not just our software.  Assuming you’re starting from scratch.  Everything you would need to be able to bring in files or a couple of channels of ingest, and we could scale down from that as well.  If all you need is an instance where you’re just going to manage a couple of assets, coming in hourly or daily, that would be a much smaller system and certainly something that could shrink down to run on a single machine.

Larry Jordan:  David, one of the things that fascinates me is the range in pricing of media asset management software.  It starts with entry level packages of a few hundred dollars, up through systems like yourself which cost 100,000.  Why do prices range so much?  What is the driving factor in cost?

David Schleifer:  That’s a great question and ultimately it comes down to the interfaces that that application has.  It’s scalability.  Often the packages that you get that are very powerful and small will be limited to function across certain other peripherals or only up to a certain size.  If you’re looking for something that can scale from a handful of users up to thousands of users, that’s where you get into requirements that require scalability and performance and interconnectivity with a variety of systems.  The folks who are spending $100,000 or more on a package want to make sure that whatever they throw at it you can handle.  So all of that’s built in.  Now, if you pay a little more when you scale down, you get the benefits of what a larger customer has asked out of this system, so you do get those benefits, but if your requirements are always going to be two users working together, collaborating, or perhaps three or four and you don’t mind running on consumer hardware and things like that, you can go with one of the more affordable packages.

Larry Jordan:  So your perspective, the way that you view the market is, you’re viewing it from the enterprise, the major studio level as opposed to the small work group independent producer level?

David Schleifer:  We scale from medium work groups I would say, on up.  You find us in enterprise, in broadcast, across sports production and in some odd places.

Larry Jordan:  For people that want more information about Primestream’s products, where can they go on the web?

David Schleifer:  Go straight to Primestream.com with or without the w’s at the beginning, you’ll find us.

Larry Jordan:  David Schleifer is the COO, chief operating officer of Primestream, and David thanks for joining us today.

David Schleifer: Thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan:  Peter Agelasto has spent over 20 years in the music business and works nearly every day with recording and internet media technologies.  Originally though, he was a Mayan archaeologist, then turned his focus to digital culture as the internet grew in prominence.  He recently developed a media platform called Starchive which counts Bob Dylan as its first client.  Hello Peter, welcome.

Peter Agelasto IV:  Hi Larry, how are you today?

Larry Jordan:  A Mayan archaeologist?

Peter Agelasto IV:  Why not?  We all had lives before the internet, or most of us did.  With archaeology I was fascinated with people, I was fascinated with material culture and artifacts, and little did I know that fast forward 20 years, once I left the axial trenches in Honduras, that I’d find myself still doing archaeology but only really in a digital way.

Larry Jordan:  So let’s shift gears, forward about five or six technological lifetimes.  How would you describe Starchive?  What is it?

Peter Agelasto IV:  Starchive is a software product.  It is a product that unifies and centralizes all types of files.  Starchive was designed originally to solve some of my own problems that I encountered in a recording studio that I run to this day, and the problems that we were working to solve which were digital asset management systems are just too expensive.  Going to look for things was the bane of our existence, and we were also creatives so we were more focused on creating things than we were really organizing them, believe it or not.

Larry Jordan:  Well who do you see as the target audience for Starchive?

Peter Agelasto IV:  The target audience is really anyone who’s sick and tired of today’s digital asset management systems.  We have a cultural bent towards creatives because we really came from publishing and video production and audio production, and that special slant is because we’re very visual people.  So for example, if I’m searching through videos, I kind of know what I’m looking for when I see it.  So Starchive is a very visual platform.  You can search and play back across multiple storage environments, but today we’ve got folks as diverse as Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, the New York Philharmonic and also a very exciting group out of Amman, Jordan, going back to my archaeology roots, they used Starchives to archive all of their material from a very special site called Petra.  Your listeners might remember Petra as being in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It is that marble Greek looking city at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Larry Jordan:  Where does it fit in the production process?  Are you in the creative process, or in distribution or where?

Peter Agelasto IV:  Awesome question.  So I like to answer that by saying, the entire digital world has everything to learn from musicians and artists.  The one I think, the power of creativity is a super force in the universe, but really from a production standpoint and working with digital material and web publishing, it was really musicians who took this upon themselves to learn TML back in the early days of the web.

Larry Jordan:  So with all the different media management products that are out there, why should a producer pick yours? Or more importantly, what questions should they ask to pick the best media management package for them?

Peter Agelasto IV:  Great question.  Digital ReLab loves what we’re doing.  We’ve got small teams, we bring a lot of enthusiasm and passion and we’re also solutions driven.  But I think there’s a lot of great choices out there and Digital ReLab might not be the best choice for everybody.  What I would say is answering the following questions is really helpful in picking out what kind of system you really need.  First of all, what are you doing?  If you’re just a photographer, and you don’t have the need to store huge production files locally, a Cloud option is great.  Our system has combined Cloud and local storage options into it, so for the production companies, the video producers who are shooting all day long at pro res 422 or greater, just those file sizes are huge to put into the Cloud.  Therefore, a lot of the trends in asset management in storing to Cloud offerings, is just leaving behind a lot of these producers, saying “Gosh, got all these things I need to edit but they’re too big to upload, they’re too big to download, what do we do?”  But I think you really need to ask yourself, what’s the end goal?  A lot of systems sell you on a bunch of functions and features and tout that “All of these great things are going to help you get organized.  They’re going to give you all of this workflow so that you can do all this work to get organized.”  Well, where we see opportunity is that sometimes things are actually quite well organized but not very accessible.  Focusing on “What are you doing,” helps unlock the questions of, “Where should I store this?  How much time should I really spend around organization, rather than building upon the organizational scheme that we already have?”  I think also, really asking them, “OK, if everything was organized and you had a search field in front of you, and you started looking for things, how would you search for things?”  Because it’s in that kind of working backwards from the end goals that you can get really quick and easy wins with automating ingest and metadata tagging etcetera.

Larry Jordan:  From a pricing point of view, how are you priced?

Peter Agelasto IV:  First is we do not charge for storage.  We really felt like giving users and customers the ability to pay for and bring their own storage was worthwhile.  So back to pricing.  Today Starchives starts at $500 a month, and in the Cloud we have a pricing model of just a small installation fee of $2500, onetime fee.  You could have a million users using your application, with only those two support sheets at $500 a month.

Larry Jordan:  And for people that want more information about your product, where can they go on the web?

Peter Agelasto IV:  They can visit us at digitalrelab.com.

Larry Jordan:  That’s all one word, digitalrelab.com and Peter Agelasto is the founder of Digital ReLab and Peter, thanks for joining us today.

Peter Agelasto IV:  Larry, it’s been a pleasure.  Have a wonderful day.

Larry Jordan:   Here’s another website I want to introduce you to.  doddlenews.com. doddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries.  It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry.  doddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production.  These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals.  doddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, film makers and story tellers.  From photography to film making, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed.  Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go.  doddlenews.com.

Larry Jordan:  Greg Crosby is the director of product line management at G-Technology which is a company owned by Western Digital.  This title means that he both loves storage and gets to figure out what cool new hardware we’ll be using next.  Hello Greg, welcome.

Greg Crosby:  Hello Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan:  Greg, this week we’re talking about storage.  File sizes are exploding, media projects regularly create multiple terabytes of data spread across thousands of files.  What are storage vendors like G-Tech doing to help us keep up?

Greg Crosby:   Well we’re definitely bringing a variety of different storage products that are meeting those needs and requirements, with higher data rates, higher frame rates are increasing the amount of storage that’s needed, and also the performance that’s needed to be able to move that data is also another key component to that.  So we’re embracing new interface technology like Thunderbolt 3.  We’re offering higher capacity storage solutions.  Now we have 12 terabyte capacity drives that are available in our products, so we can easily offer a variety of different solutions that are meeting the needs of our creative customers.

Larry Jordan:  It may just be that I have this conservative bent, but when I hear a single hard drive stores 12 terabytes of data, does that thing actually work, and is it reliable?  It just makes me feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.

Greg Crosby: It definitely does work.  We’re very fortunate within the G-Technology brand to utilize some of the best hard drives on the planet.  We use the Ultrastar Enterprise Class hard drives in a lot of our three and a half inch base platforms.  12 terabytes is a lot of data to be on one single disc, but I’m very confident and I’ve used the drives myself obviously to store all that content.  And with other products that have the rate capability, it’s also providing that additional data redundancy and some additional levels of protection, so there’s different ways of being able to have a nice strategy to protect that data and to be able to store that amount of data.

Larry Jordan:  There’s multiple types of drives.  There’s NAS Drives, Eenterprise Drives, and Consumer Drives and who else knows what.  How do we decide which of these to get, and does it really make a difference to the individual media producer?

Greg Crosby:  I think it does actually make a difference.  There are a variety of different classifications for drives.  As I mentioned for G-Technology, we primarily use the Enterprise Class storage products, and those drives do go through additional levels of testing and validation to become that Enterprise Class qualified drive.  So I think it is important.  When you have your creative content, your creative baby as a lot of people like to say, on a storage product, you want to make sure that it’s being stored in the most reliable solution available on the market.  And that’s what G-Technology provides.

Larry Jordan:  Do they test each individual drive, or are they extensively testing a random sample that comes off the line?  Because with the number of drives you have to manufacture is there ever time to test a drive?

Greg Crosby:  They are, they go through a variety of different testing and qualification processes.  For us with the enterprise drives, we’re getting basically the cream of the crop to the drives that are being put into our products.  They do go through some other additional testing to validate that they do meet that requirement.  Then I think more importantly too is we have lots of different end users and customers that are using our products out there in the field.  G-Technology’s always been known for the reliability and I think just the use of our drives and products in the field are a good testament to that reliability and the quality of what we provide.

Larry Jordan:  I’m looking around my office and I see any number of silver G-Tech boxes but they’re all Firewire.  Can I buy an empty enclosure and move the drive?  Or do I need to replace everything?

Greg Crosby:  You actually do need to replace.  Some of the technology as you mentioned, the interface technology does change.  We also use different types of Raid chips and Raid controllers that also will impact your ability to use what you currently have.  Sounds like you’re a great opportunity for our team to reach out and make sure you’re on the latest and greatest and are migrating that content into the newest technology.

Larry Jordan:  Let’s just say that I’m drowning in terabytes.  I’ve given up keeping track, but it’s more than one.  G-Tech has offered both spinning media storage and SSD storage for a long while, and the benefits of SSD in terms of speed is significant.  Why is it that Apple is the only company that’s been able to blend the two into a Fusion Drive?  What makes that technology so unattainable for everybody else?

Greg Crosby:  I think a lot of it is having access to the metadata of the files themselves, with the operating systems being able to see what files are being accessed consistently.  That has that intelligence there.  It can be done, but I think it’s a little bit more difficult from more of the device side of things and we definitely see that as an opportunity, with the mixture of media that we have, to be able to provide that solution to our customer and we are looking at possibilities for the future to enable that.

Larry Jordan:  Something for us to look forward to, this’ll be very nice.  There’s lots of storage products out there both from G-Tech and the competition.  What criteria should we use to determine which storage product to buy?  Is it solely capacity?

Greg Crosby:  No, I think there’s other factors.  Obviously the media that’s being used, whether that be again Enterprise Class hard drives or high quality hard drives, what we put into the G-Tech portfolio, or even the Flash side of it.  One of the great exciting things about our new larger company, is that we have a lot of great innovative technology to put into our products, even down to really high performance, high endurance Flash drives.  So I think the media is definitely an important aspect.  I think also as you referred to us, the silver drives.  The look and the feel of the products is another important aspect.  Then I think the service and support and warranties also are another big factor.  We have now on a lot of our Thunderbolt enabled products a five year warranty across our portfolio of product, so we really stand behind our product, the quality, the reliability and the performance of which G-Technology has been known for.

Larry Jordan:  One of the things that’s fascinating a lot of us is this whole idea of machine learning or artificial intelligence.  Does that play a role at all in storage?

Greg Crosby:  I think so.  Definitely in a variety of different ways.  I think there’s some interesting things from a device side, but it becomes even more interesting on the software and application side. The intelligence that you can now apply to all of your storage media, to be able to go and have it  search for pictures of cars, or have it go and search for somebody skiing down a mountain.  I think there’s lots of possibilities to where you can basically provide more value to the media that you have, and over a longer life as well.  You know, as you mentioned, having lots of drives at some point in time it’d be great to aggregate and put that all into one spot, and then provide some intelligence that can go and say, “This is what’s on this drive and this is what’s back up and not backed up, and here is the actual content that you have available to you to be able to use.”

Larry Jordan:  What G-Tech  products should media creators consider when they’re deciding to supplement their storage?

Greg Crosby:  Obviously back up is a key component to have.  Multiple copies of your data is always a key factor, so utilizing things like multiple G drives or G Raids, I think are always a great way of being able to have multiple copies of your data.  I think the faster interfaces are really great especially on the creative side, because you’re removing any of the bottlenecks, or bottleneck potentials that may happen.  And I think with the newer technology, Apple based systems, there’s this new Thunderbolt 3 technology that’s there and how do you simplify that and make sure that it all interacts and works together to optimize the workflow?  So I would look at our Thunderbolt 3 solutions and even for those that need a higher capacity, collaborative storage, our G-Rack’s another great example of the types of products that G-Tech’s bringing to the market.

Larry Jordan:  Should we use different criteria in picking storage, depending upon where we are in the production process?  Does a DIT need something different than an editor, than a cinematographer?

Greg Crosby:  Yes, I definitely think that there’s the right tool for the job.  We have a lot of customers that are using G drives as an example, like a large USB drive for all intents and purposes.  They need to move four terabytes of data from one location to the next.  Our G drives are great solutions for that.  The G drive’s also a great solution for somebody that’s just looking to back up their system, or to be able to store a nice photo library or a project on.  On the opposite side of that, we have a lot of our customers that are shooting four to six terabytes a day and they utilize our eight drive, Thunderbolt 3 solution to store and aggregate and back up all that data while they’re on the road or on set.  I also think that G-Technology, in our position within the media and entertainment space, is definitely well positioned.  You know, we have another group within our company that focuses on seven petabyte storage solutions, and actually our G-Rack 12 has the ability to talk directly to that large seven petabyte active scale solution.  I think those are the things that we’re really looking to try to solve from G-Technology, those workflow solutions is really what we focus on.

Larry Jordan:  For people who want more information and to see exactly what products are available, where can they go on the web?

Greg Crosby:  You can visit us at G-technology.com.

Larry Jordan:  Greg Crosby is the director of product line management for G-Technology, and Greg, as always, thanks for joining us.

Greg Crosby: Thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan:  You know, I was just thinking.  Almost every day I get an email from someone trying to decide what computer they should buy.  And I have a number of articles on my website on how to configure a new computer for video editing.  But what surprises me, is how few questions I get asking about what storage to buy.  As Gary said during his interview, a 4K HDR video file requires 1.9 gigabytes per second of storage bandwidth.  That’s faster than Firewire, Thunderbolt 1, even Thunderbolt 2, yet far too many editors assume that the speed of their computer is all they need to consider when buying a system that will future proof their editing.  Your computer is safe, but probably not your storage.

Larry Jordan:   Things get even more complex as you start to share storage between multiple editors.  Suddenly issues such as switching, cabling, even connection protocols in addition to Ethernet speeds, become both relevant and limiting.  Our storage is critically important, and far too often, underestimated in the design of any video editing system.  Then, when you combine dozens of terabytes of storage with the shoot as much as you like for free aspect of digital media, we end up with projects that have thousands of shots, often with multiple shots contained within the same clip.

Larry Jordan:   How do we find what we need?  Greg Crosby of G-Tech told me a story after our interview that they hired a production team to shoot a video for G-Tech.  The team shot 27 terabytes of data, but the deadline was so short they didn’t have time to even review all the media that they shot.  After they delivered the project, they went back through the footage and discovered all kinds of great shots that they would have put in the video if only they could have found them during the edit process.

Larry Jordan:  As editors, we are really really good at organizing our media.  Now we need the ability to find all those great shots, when we need them.  Just something I’m thinking about.

Larry Jordan:  I want to thank our guests for this week, Larry O’Connor of OWC, Gary Watson of Nexsan, David Schleifer of Primestream, Peter Agelasto of Digital ReLab, Greg Crosby of G-Technology  and James DeRuvo with doddleNEWS.

Larry Jordan:   There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and available to you today.  Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday.

Larry Jordan:  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuzz and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.

Larry Jordan:   Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by Smartsound.com.  Text transcripts are provided by Take1 Transcription.  Visit Take1.tv to learn how they can help you.

Larry Jordan:   Our producer is Debbie Price.  My name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.

Larry Jordan:  The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2017 by Thalo LLC.

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Five Years Ago Today on The Buzz...


Jonathan Handel, Entertainment Labor Reporter for “The Hollywood Reporter” talked about the attempt to unionize film actors just before filming of “The Hobbit” started.