Jim Malcolm, General Manager, North America, Humaneyes Technologies
Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates, Inc.
Larry O’Connor, Founder & CEO, Other World Computing
Sam Mestman, CEO, Lumaforge
Jordan Winkelman, Solutions Architect, Quantum
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we are looking at the current state of storage and there are big surprises coming. We start though with NAB Insight. Jim Malcolm, General Manager for North America, for Humaneyes, talks about improving diversity in immersive media. In fact, they’re hosting an event at NAB in April, to encourage more women and minorities to create immersive experiences.
Larry Jordan: Next, we shift to storage with Tom Coughlin, President of Coughlin and Associates; setting the scene for emerging new storage technology. They will hear more about it at NAB. Faster storage, yes, but even more intriguing is permanent storage that’s so fast, it could replace RAM.
Larry Jordan: Next, Larry O’Connor, CEO of OWC, explains new storage technology trends that we might see at NAB, that relate to direct attached storage. One of the questions I’m very curious about is whether RAIDs are about to be replaced by something even faster.
Larry Jordan: Next, Sam Mestman, President of Lumaforge, showcases new trends in shared storage that can improve the workflow of workgroups. What questions do you need to ask, when considering adding shared storage to your editing workflow?
Larry Jordan: Next, Jordan Winkelman, Solutions Architect for Quantum, showcases their newest storage system built around MVME; a new storage architecture that is far, far faster than any single device we’ve worked with before.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with this week’s doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking. Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professional. 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. Hello, my name is Larry Jordan. NAB Insight is our behind the scenes look at the upcoming NAB Show. We’re all familiar with the tradeshow itself; but there is a lot more going on that you may not know about. NAB Insight helps you plan your trip, to make the most of what’s available.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, Jim Malcolm, General Manager for North America, for Humaneyes, describes an event they’re hosting at NAB; seeking to get more women and minorities involved in creating interactive, immersive experiences. For too long, most media has been created by men; however, all of us have interesting stories to tell, or experiences to share. I’m looking forward to chatting with Jim, to learn more about what he’s planning.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy the Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support, to help us grow our audience. Now it’s time for our weekly doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James, happy Thursday.
James DeRuvo: Happy Thursday Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what have we got that’s news this week?
James DeRuvo: This last weekend was the Oscars and I remember, last week, we did a story about how ARRI was dominant in most of the Oscar nominations for Best Picture this year. With the exception of documentaries. When you get into documentaries, the camera that’s dominant are Canon cameras; which I found very interesting. Canon cameras were used in every single documentary nominated at the Academy Awards; mostly the C300 Mark II and the Canon 5D Mark III.
Larry Jordan: What makes Canon so popular.
James DeRuvo: When you look at the lower cost of the Canon Cinema EOS platform, it’s ergonomic; but, especially, its compact design makes it a lot of sense for documentarians who would rather shoot out in the field. Especially when you look at the Oscar winner this year for Best Documentary, Free Solo. It was about a free climber climbing sheer rock faces of mountains all around the world and when you’re the poor cameraman that has to follow him up the mountainside, it makes sense that you want to keep yourself as nimble as possible and that’s what that Cinema EOS C300 lets you do. It makes a lot of sense to me.
Larry Jordan: ARRI got the features and Canon got the documentaries.
James DeRuvo: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Well we’ve had a lot of camera news recently; so, do you have something different this week for our second story?
James DeRuvo: I have a rather depressing story, quite frankly. YouTube’s copyright system, honestly, I think it’s irretrievably broken; as it is now being used by blackmailers, to blackmail content creators to pay them money to remove copyright strikes. YouTube content creators are complaining that they are being hit with multiple copyright strikes by phantom users; who then contact them, demanding money be paid to them via Bitcoin, or PayPal.
James DeRuvo: YouTube’s appeals process also opens the creator up to further harassment; as they have to provide contact information that the blackmailer can see and exploit and all the monetisation and counter notification options are removed during the copyright claim process; so there’s very little a content creator can do. They can appeal, but most of them are not comfortable in doing so.
Larry Jordan: So they’re hit with a false claim for copyright infringement and, during the processing of that false claim, the YouTuber loses the ability to make money on their video?
James DeRuvo: Yes and the videos are just automatically taken down.
Larry Jordan: YouTube’s labouring under a host of problems recently. What’s going on?
James DeRuvo: I think it’s just a case of, they’re just too big. They’re a victim of their own success really. Since YouTube has changed their monetisation policies, in order to please advertisers; you know, the whole adpocalypse issue that came about last year, these channels have to work a lot harder to reach an arbitrary plateau. The plateau is 4,000 viewing hours a year, 10,000 subscribers and 10,000 views in a year and you have to renew that every single year, in order to qualify for monetisation.
James DeRuvo: Smaller channels don’t have to worry about a lot of stuff, because they’re not making any money; but those that are right on the cusp, who just qualify, are a prime target for these blackmailers. The bigger, top YouTube channels, like ABC and Jimmy Kimmel and the Tonight Show and those, they don’t have to worry about that; they have concierge services through YouTube directly. They can just pick up the phone, make a call if there’s a problem and it gets handled. But these smaller guys, the guys somewhere in the middle, they just make the requirements, they’re just starting to make money and then they get hit with copyright claims by blackmailers.
James DeRuvo: YouTube is very hesitant to help, because, they don’t want to come down as ruling against a copyright claim who may be legitimate; even though, most of the time they’re not. It’s a really unfortunate situation and I honestly think it’s broken and it can’t be fixed.
Larry Jordan: Well you’re right, that’s depressing. Let’s move onto our third story. What have you got for that?
James DeRuvo: I have a religious debate for you.
Larry Jordan: Go for it.
James DeRuvo: The big question being presented this week is, are ISO ratings and cameras totally faked? A professional photographer named Tony Northrup took to YouTube this week, to make the case that camera ISO ratings are completely fake; they’re just made up. He says that, today’s digital image sensors are largely ISO agnostic and you can just adjust your lower ISO image in post, up to five stops; even when it’s completely in darkened light and it will look nearly identical as something that’s shot at a higher ISO.
James DeRuvo: He also says that, camera ISO ratings are wildly all over the place; not only from manufacturer to manufacturer, but sometimes from model to model inside of a manufacturer. It’s a very compelling case on YouTube about it and it’s starting to cause photographers to really debate it online. I do think that it is worth talking about and it’s something that camera companies could largely solve, by just being more transparent in how they give us these ISO ratings. They just don’t tell us, they just make it up.
Larry Jordan: What other stories are you working on for this week?
James DeRuvo: Well, other stories we’re following this week include Adobe fixes audio issues and a Premiere that could cause speakers in your MacBook Pro to blow out. Are action cameras hitting a feature plateau? Also, we have great new hardware and software reviews.
Larry Jordan: Where can we go on the web, to follow these and all the other stories that you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief of doddleNEWS and joins us every week. I’ll see you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: See you next week.
Larry Jordan: Jim Malcolm is the General Manager for North America, for Humaneyes Technologies. He’s responsible for managing the Vuze VR camera product ecosystem and he also sits on the Board of Directors for the Consumer Technology Association and is a past President of the Imaging Alliance. Hello Jim, welcome.
Jim Malcolm: Hello Larry, how are you today?
Larry Jordan: I am doing great, because I’m looking forward to our conversation. In the past, you and I have talked about the VR products that Humaneyes creates. But tonight, on our NAB Insight segment, I’m going to learn more about what you personally are doing at NAB in April. I understand you’re speaking at the Conference; what are you talking about?
Jim Malcolm: I’ll not only be on the stage myself speaking, but what we’re trying to do right now is, really showcase some real use case scenarios in virtual reality and, quite frankly, showcase some of the women in technology. We’ll be on stage with a programme called Teaching Students the Power and the Future of VR and I will share the stage with a lady by the name of Kathleen Johnson.
Larry Jordan: When did you pick this subject?
Jim Malcolm: You know, there’s obviously a lot going on in technology right now; a lot happening in virtual reality and, when I start looking at the amazing storytellers that are out there, there’s a lot of women out there that are maybe under-represented, or they don’t often get a stage. We thought this would be a great platform to showcase Kathleen and the work that she’s doing with the Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma.
Larry Jordan: Well, is this going to be presented in your booth, or is it presented somewhere else?
Jim Malcolm: It’s actually somewhere else. We are going to hold this event in the North Hall, at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. There is something called the Innovation Theatre there. We’ll be in the Innovation Theatre, North Hall, Las Vegas Convention Centre.
Larry Jordan: Give me an example of what a typical presentation would be. I know that you’re still in flux, but how have you got it sketched in your mind?
Jim Malcolm: We will be on stage for about 45 minutes and we’re going to talk about what the University of Oklahoma is doing to bring virtual reality to life. That’s not just the computer programming side of things, but the ability to take linear video and bring it in. Through one of those programmes, I think we’ll showcase and show the Journalism School and the efforts that they’re doing with sending students to Washington D.C. to report on government issues in virtual reality.
Larry Jordan: What was it that got you connected to the University of Oklahoma in the first place?
Jim Malcolm: They’re one of the heavy users of the Vuze VR cameras and they’ve been building a pretty good portfolio of student work; largely because the Vuze camera’s so simple to use; they can put it in the hands of a student, have them run out and shoot and they can run back and produce all within one class.
Larry Jordan: Are you going to be doing VR at the show itself, or just talking about it?
Jim Malcolm: At the talk, we’re going to be talking about it; but another group of us are going to be over running some events, or daily workshops, that we’re going to hold over at the Wynn Hotel. At these, we’re going to solicit small groups of between six and eight students and we’ll hold a couple of sessions each day. We’ll go out and film around the hotel and then come back and make a final piece in virtual reality.
Larry Jordan: So you’re going to be dashing between the North Hall, to do the presentations, the Wynn Hotel to do the VR stuff and then your booth to be able to showcase the final result. You are going to wear yourself out.
Jim Malcolm: Well, you know what the good thing about NAB is, it’s similar to other tradeshows in Vegas. Just wear nice shoes, or comfortable shoes. I guess they don’t have to be nice, they have to be comfortable.
Larry Jordan: Very true, the comfortable part is the most important. If you were to sketch a goal, for what you’d like your presentations and talks to accomplish, what would it be?
Jim Malcolm: It’s really about putting the role of VR video; whether that’s 360 full immersive, or VR 180 stereo back into the minds of creators. For a while, the VR video component kind of got pushed back on the backburner, because maybe it wasn’t the latest and greatest shiny thing. But, now with some advances in things like Unity and Unreal, you can take linear video and make non-linear experiences out of that, in a really immersive and complete VR project.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to attend, what do they have to do? Do they have to join the Conference; or, how can they attend your talk?
Jim Malcolm: The talk itself does require you to have a badge; so you have to have access to the NAB; so any of the badge holders, you can get in with that. Because the workshops are being held off the show floor, at the hotel, we can also invite some other members, that maybe are not badged for the NAB itself.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to participate in the event at the Wynn, how do they sign up?
Jim Malcolm: They’re going to have to hold their breath just a little bit, I don’t have the signup sheet done yet. But we’ll get it all posted on vuze.camera and we’ll have links there, as well as our Facebook and other social media platform; for people to come and sign up.
Larry Jordan: As long as I’m making you feel guilty, when are you going to post the information about the North Hall events?
Jim Malcolm: You know what? My goal is to get that done by Monday. How’s that sound? I’ll try to get it done sooner but, with my programmer, I think that it’s going to be Monday before we get that out.
Larry Jordan: That sounds like a plan. So the North Hall is going to occur multiple times each day, or once a day and multiple days across the NAB?
Jim Malcolm: That just happens once and that’s going to be on April 9 at 10:30 am. It is an appointment type programme that you’re going to want to get to. April 9, 10.30 am, North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Centre, in the Innovation Theatre.
Larry Jordan: On Monday, when you’ve got this posted to the website, where can people go on the web to learn more?
Jim Malcolm: Again, it’s going to be www.vuze.camera.
Larry Jordan: That’s vuze.camera and Jim Malcolm is the General Manager for North America, for Humaneyes Technology and the driving force behind the Vuze VR camera ecosystem. Jim, thanks for joining us today, I wish you great success and get this posted quickly; because I think a lot of people would like to sign up.
Jim Malcolm: I will indeed. Thanks for the reminder.
Larry Jordan: You take care. Have a busy weekend. We’ll talk to you soon.
Male Voiceover: Join the Digital Production Buzz at the 2019 NAB Show in Last Vegas, Nevada. Starting Monday April 8, Larry Jordan and The Buzz team are taking their microphones on the road; to cover the latest news and trends from the largest media show in the world. Every hour of every day, The Buzz is live on the tradeshow floor; creating 27 news shows in four days; more than 100 interviews with key industry leaders.
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Larry Jordan: Tom Coughlin is a Silicon Valley Consultant, a Storage Analyst and a Fellow of the IEEE; as well as the organiser of the Annual Storage Visions and Creative Storage Conferences. Hello Tom, welcome back.
Tom Coughlin: Hello Larry, thank you.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe what Coughlin and Associates does?
Tom Coughlin: Coughlin Associates is a firm I started around 2000. We’ve been putting on some events; you mentioned Creative Storage, Storage Visions are some of those events and we were a share of the Flash Memory Summit for ten years. We do market and technology analysis; in fact, there’s an annual report on Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment and, also, a survey of media entertainment professionals on the use of storage; that partially uses some of that survey data. In addition, I do consulting of all different sorts; on digital storage technologies and applications; all manner of things from technical things, to due diligence for investors and things of that sort.
Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in storage?
Tom Coughlin: I first got interested in storage, actually, in college. I had a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics and I was working at a company the south of Minneapolis and they had a magnetic sensor that I was working on. It was a thin film device and I needed to make some magnetic measurements. There is a Fellow at the University of Minnesota, Professor Jack Judy and he had some measurement equipment. I was able to go there and use that and I met him and I thought he was a pretty cool guy. He was working on magnetic recording technologies; particularly with thin film magnetic recording technology.
Tom Coughlin: I got initially into magnetic recording, worked on the Heads in media, for instance, that work in hard disk drives and tapes and even floppy disks back in the day. My initial activities in storage were actually making the devices on which you store things on and I, you know, kept up with what’s been going on in the industry; both in the system level and software and device level sensing.
Larry Jordan: I want to ask you about new technology; but before I do, this report on media and entertainment intrigues me. What are you learning about the storage needs in media and entertainment?
Tom Coughlin: Media and entertainment, actually, all the different elements in the workflow may have somewhat different requirements. Whether it’s capturing content on camera, or doing post-production work; editing post-production, distributing content or archiving. They have different characteristics and different sort of storage devices may be used for it. It’s been fascinating to see the development of those technologies. Files are getting larger, because the resolutions are going up. 4K is very common, there’s 8K out there, there’s even people doing 16K video work nowadays and, if you do that 360, it gets to be pretty large files.
Tom Coughlin: The same time people are doing that, the amount of storage is growing much, much faster than the budgets for storage and, therefore, people have had to develop very clever ways of handling content and storing it. We have a great variety of different types of storage technologies that are out there now, that include the Cloud storage; you know, for people keeping things for collaboration, or even for long-term retention. Actually, more in the media and entertainment industry. That may be hard disk drives, may be flash even, or even possibly tape being used there.
Tom Coughlin: In the editing space, a lot of that’s been hard disk drive base traditionally, but some of the data rates required for some of these new media; especially doing multi-streams of content at the same time, is actually moving to flash memory based devices. Especially some of the new flash interfaces on solid-state drives. An example of that is the NVMe non-volatile memory express interface.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that’s exciting in our industry is that we’ve got NAB coming up in a couple of months. What new technology or trends are you expecting at NAB?
Tom Coughlin: I’m expecting, of course, a growth in storage on the Cloud and things people are doing in Cloud based storage in data connected data centres. There’s very interesting things that are going on in terms of, as I mentioned before, the solid stage storage that are going to be more important in these applications. I think we’re going to see more of that at the NAB.
Tom Coughlin: I think, in the solid state storage, there is a movement to the NVMe protocol versus the SAS and SATA; because it’s built around the capabilities of solid state and persistent memory technologies and allows you to get more of that to the outside, where the user can actually use it; versus SATA and SAS.
Larry Jordan: Is NVMe a communications protocol, like SAS; or is it a storage object itself?
Tom Coughlin: It’s more a protocol for how you handle data. There’s a group in Sneer that’s been working on a programming model and NVMe, important elements in that is the movement towards, how do I treat storage more like memory? You might see some of this at the NAB; about use of remote memory, direct memory access in a storage device; that allows you to treat memory in another box, or another place like it’s your memory. I’ve heard some really fascinating things that are being done with that, which may have some media and entertainment applications.
Tom Coughlin: There’s enormous changes going on in terms of both the direct attached storage capabilities that people have and, also, the shared storage capabilities and that also goes, of course, in the Hyperscale and the Cloud guys as well. There is also a lot of working going on, in additional to the traditional storage vendors. There are a lot of folks that are working on more open type systems, with a lot of softer defined and more generic hardware.
Larry Jordan: Exciting times in storage. There’s a whole lot going on.
Tom Coughlin: There’s a lot of stuff going on; memory and storage is, I think, a very exciting area. The other thing is possibly the use of emerging memories for media stuff.
Larry Jordan: Emerging memory, what’s that?
Tom Coughlin: Things like magnetic random access memory, resistive random access memory; a whole bunch of non-volatile memory technologies that are looking to replace volatile memory, like SRAM and DRAM in computing systems.
Larry Jordan: Which means that the memory wouldn’t disappear when the computer gets shut down.
Tom Coughlin: That’s right, or you can turn the computer off and the memory’s still there; so you can save energy and you don’t lose the data. On the other hand, also, if you want to get rid of the data, you have to intentionally do that. So there’s some fascinating things going on that I think will offer a great variety of options for people working and needing storage in the media and entertainment space; for all different parts of the workflow.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to talk to Larry O’Connor right after you; learning about direct attached storage and we’ll talk to Sam Mestman about shared storage, after we get done with Larry. Talk to me about how NVMe is going to be used. Are we looking to have NVMe, which is again a protocol not an object, replace SSDs; or is it going to replace RAIDs; or is it going to be something totally different?
Tom Coughlin: It’s a little more complicated than that. The NVMe interface itself is going to be a new solid state drive type interface; which can come in many different form factors and many different physical connections; but it’s going to replace SAS and SATA eventually. Right now, it’s more expensive; but because of the additional performance it gives and the commitment that the storage industry has made to this technology, I think the costs are going to go down very fast and it’s going to eventually replace, for a lot of new storage, the SATA and SAS traditional storage systems.
Tom Coughlin: In fact, there’s even some talk about building hard drive boxes, that would have an NVMe interface. I think Western Digital introduced a product like that last year, as part of some NVMe work they were doing.
Tom Coughlin: The other side of it is, that the NVMe protocol, there’s developed technologies for carrying that over a fabric; for instance, a fibre channel, or InfiniBand type of fabrics and, more recently, and this is probably going to be the most exciting, with the Ethernet type fabrics; so with IP based systems.
Tom Coughlin: There’s a lot of work going into creating IP based storage systems that are using NVMe over fabric and the fabric, in that case, being the Ethernet connectivity. That could be part, actually, of digital workflows like the SMPTE Ethernet based workflows being promoted down and becoming very popular in the elements of media and entertainment industry.
Larry Jordan: Recently, Quantum announced a new product, which is NVMe based and a little later in the show, we’re going to be talking with Jordan Winkelman, who is a Solutions Architect for Quantum; to learn more about what this box can do.
Tom Coughlin: Excellent.
Larry Jordan: I think you’re right, we’re seeing some significant changes in storage technology and especially in speeds. For people that want to learn more about what’s happening in storage, or purchase your media and entertainment report, where can they go on the web?
Tom Coughlin: You can find information on that in what’s called the Tech Papers section of the tomcoughlin.com webpage.
Larry Jordan: Tomcoughlin.com is the website and Tom Coughlin himself is the voice you’ve been listening to. A Silicon Valley Consultant, Storage Analyst and President of Coughlin and Associates. Tom, thanks for joining us today.
Tom Coughlin: You’re welcome Larry. Always a pleasure to talk to you.
Larry Jordan: Larry O’Connor is the Founder and CEO of Other World Computing; which we all know as OWC. He founded it in 1988 and is both a reseller and a developer, supporting all things Mac for more than 30 years. Hello Larry, welcome back.
Larry O’Connor: Hey, thanks for having me back Larry. Always a pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Well it’s always fun talking to you, because every time I do, I learn something and I suspect that’s going to be the case tonight as well. In the last segment, we heard Tom Coughlin give us an overview of new storage technology; with an eye toward trends coming out at NAB. From your perspective, focusing more on direct attached storage, what trends are you expecting at NAB this year?
Larry O’Connor: Bigger, faster and more need for it. I think that’s it, in a nutshell.
Larry Jordan: Bigger, faster and more. Well let’s pick faster; because that’s something we’re reflecting on. What’s going to make us faster?
Larry O’Connor: I think it’s flash and just the general innovation and availability and cost of flash. Just the technology itself, you know, it’s unbelievable how fast you can access storage. The likes of Thunderbolt and you don’t even have to have a … , you can plug things in with a copper cable.
Larry Jordan: Are you seeing speed changes due to faster protocols; or are you seeing the hardware itself getting faster?
Larry O’Connor: Well, the hardware has to get faster, to take advantage of the protocols; but the interfaces, we’ve gone to PCI 10, 20, 30 and 40s on the blocks and each time that we … the PCI interface, we were doubling the bandwidth per channel. Thunderbolt, of course, is an extension to PCIe and, for PCIe, effectively, that’s a path straight to the heart of the computer.
Larry O’Connor: Now it used to be, you go through Firewire … USB, we had SATA, you had all these layers and now we have these interfaces that let us, effectively, interface that storage right where with the CPU, right with the system and it’s, for lack of a better term, I mean, there’s nothing between you and that super highway. Everything operates at maximum efficiency. You don’t have to think about how it all works, you can just plug it in. That’s the miracle of technology, it just works.
Larry Jordan: Well I suspect somebody on your team is thinking a lot about how to make it work; but from our end, we just plug it in. One of the things that Tom was talking about is a new storage protocol called NVMe; which stands for non-volatile memory express. How does that fit into your vision flor locally attached storage? Is it something that applies, or is it not relevant?
Larry O’Connor: We actually introduced our first NVMe flash drive, you know, just a year and a half ago and it absolutely applies and it opens doors. If you go back to the way storage was you may use a PCI interface to connect the storage, but there was a controller, or something in between the processor and that storage that’s actually negotiating and handling the transaction.
Larry O’Connor: The flash which is, you know, effectively a memory in its own right, is something that’s extremely fast and anything you can do to take away barriers between it and the processor is a more, how shall we say, frictionless experience, in terms of the CPU manipulating … working on a project. I guess, instead of having a funnel, you know, everything has to go into this funnel and work its way through, you basically have a wide open pipe.
Larry O’Connor: There’s also a super fire command set, in terms of, there is less translation. It’s almost, instead of having an operating language over binary coding in machine language.
Larry Jordan: Is there the potential that NVMe is so fast that it would replace a RAID? Because RAID is essentially taking slower devices and ganging them together, for greater storage capacity and greater performance; but NVMe has the potential for vastly greater performance than any RAID.
Larry O’Connor: It does, but you still have limitations, the actual hardware has to … technology itself. The nice thing with NVMe it’s channelized and with PCIe you have, effectively, lanes to the processor. It’s really just great for …. You can effectively say yes, you can limit it, RAID. I guess I’ll just answer it by saying yes and no.
Larry Jordan: The infamous it depends answer. Yes. Another issue that came up this week regarding storage is the renaming of USB that the USB Naming Committee decided to go through. I was going to ask if you had an opinion; so, what’s your opinion?
Larry O’Connor: You know, they already confused the world with the whole 31 and GEN I and GEN 2 and now everything’s just suddenly going to be 3.2; because that’s just going to make all the sense in the world to everybody. You know, we had a conversation about this yesterday. I like where it’s going, into a unified interface actually, where USB 4 and Thunderbolt will share the same, you’d be able to plug the same device, etc.
Larry O’Connor: But the naming, people want to look at a cable and look at an interface and know that that plugs into their computer and it works. Just using 3.1 was already confusing and I don’t think most people understand what 3.1 is. The people who do understand, you know, really don’t need the renaming and the people who don’t understand, they need to have a five gigabits, ten gigabits, 20 gigabits and that doesn’t mean a whole lot other than, does that connect or plug into my computer?
Larry Jordan: It struck me as one of the more stupid decisions I’ve ever heard of; so, I’m on your side. It’s not going to help anybody except people who already know the answer.
Larry O’Connor: That’s about right.
Larry Jordan: One other thought, real quick. One of the things that you guys do is SoftRAID and one of the issues I ran into with SoftRAID is, I had to access a SoftRAID, which is a RAID device that’s done in software, rather than hardware, is access a RAID device which is several years old and the drivers were out of date. If we’re using SoftRAID, do we need to worry about it for archiving purposes?
Larry O’Connor: Going backwards, depending on the RAID that could be a challenge; but going forwards and not so much the driver, first of the later version of the SoftRAID, easy to update, it takes care of that. But the backwards compatibility is extremely strong. The simple answer would be no and the nice thing about SoftRAID for archiving, because it’s software, there’s nothing proprietary, you know, it’s very open.
Larry O’Connor: The driver is built into the OS so, in terms of future OS versions being able to access to fire SoftRAID … that’s not an issue and you never have to worry about that proprietary hardware chipset and going out and not being available to effectively put your drives back into.
Larry O’Connor: But if you pull those drives out and move it to even another of the same brand RAID a few years down the road, in addition to the fact it probably blows your RAID volume, you know, the compatibility doesn’t necessarily move around and we run into this a lot with data recovery houses, because they are always looking for some of the older RAID boxes when they have to do special recovery. You don’t have that challenge with SoftRAID.
Larry Jordan: If I’ve got an older device and I’ve got it on the shelf for a bit, just because it’s holding media, if the driver becomes out of date, when the newer version looks back at the older version, it will bring the older version back up to speed?
Larry O’Connor: Correct.
Larry Jordan: Cool. I was worried about that and I figured, I should ask the source. Larry, for people that need more information about the products that you’re going to be doing at NAB, or any of your other products, where can they go on the web?
Larry O’Connor: You can visit us at owc.com and macsales.com and you can learn all about SoftRAID, MEDIAFOUR and do a AKITIO group and, of course, all the great things that OWC and Mac Sales has been bringing to the world for all these years.
Larry Jordan: Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what your new toys are at NAB in just a couple of months and I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas when the time comes. You take care and thanks for your time tonight.
Larry O’Connor: My pleasure Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: Sam Mestman is the President of Lumaforge; a company that makes server based hardware that is optimised for media editing. He’s also the Founder of We Make Movies; a Los Angeles based independent film community. Hello Sam, welcome back.
Sam Mestman: Hello Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Sam before we get down to talking specifically about storage, how would you define Lumaforge?
Sam Mestman: So Lumaforge, I think, at its core is a workflow company; we set out to make life easier for post-production professionals and the biggest way that we realized that we could do that from the very beginning was to go after the shared storage market and make something simple, approachable, that even an editor like me could use. That’s really where it came from.
Sam Mestman: Now we are focused on making life easier for video teams everywhere, with our Jellyfish and Share Station products.
Larry Jordan: Earlier in the show, we heard from Tom Coughlin; who set the scene for storage technology and Larry O’Connor, looking at direct attack storage. Since Lumaforge focuses on shared storage, from your perspective, what trends are you expecting at NAB regarding shared storage?
Sam Mestman: In terms of NAB, I think, look, the world is getting more connected; collaboration is becoming more and more important and the way that people connect to their assets visually. You’re seeing more and more people even becoming aware of what shared storage is at this point. It used to sort of be this thing that certain people had, or you would have the same network that sort of worked for everybody; but dedicated storage for media and entertainment, as we see more and more smaller video teams pop up across the world, this is now becoming a thing is becoming very important people.
Sam Mestman: The reason it’s becoming so important is because, now, every place you go is building its own internal movie studio and now it needs to manage all these assets internally. The way that works with MAMs and some of these other things, these are some of the big challenges that we’re sort of working with our clients on.
Larry Jordan: Lumaforge specialises in shared storage; but there’s huge companies; I’m thinking QNAP and Synology, that create shared storage. Why does Lumaforge exist?
Sam Mestman: What it really comes down to, it’s basically a by filmmakers for a filmmaker sort of thing. Being diplomatic, the reality of the situation is, none of these other companies are designing things purely for media and entertainment and for the demands that a video team will really put its system through. We’re there because there was a void and if those solutions were really, truly working for our customers, we would not have been able to enter the market. But the truth of the matter is, in a lot of the situations, people might have one of those and they’re coming to us because they know they need something that actually works.
Larry Jordan: Clearly, companies like QNAP and Synology are reputable companies; I don’t mean to say otherwise. But what are the challenges of having media on shared storage?
Sam Mestman: Oh, the make great products, don’t get me wrong; that’s not what I’m trying to say at all. But video specifically has certain demands that you don’t really understand. It’s not like passing PDFs or, you know, songs, or photos around; you actually need something that has a minimal amount of latency, will not cause a beach ball when you push the space bar and allows you to touch lots of things very quickly in your timeline and move it around.
Sam Mestman: Those are all large files and the responsiveness of that experience and being able to play 4K media across multiple machines, you need something that is a really good air traffic controller; that allows all of your team’s needs to sort of be served coming in and out and you need optimised hardware for that.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of servers; Jellyfish is one of them. I keep coming across terms like SMB and AFP. What are these?
Sam Mestman: Well, those are two terms that I never wanted to learn either. But, what I can tell you is, they are networking protocols; they’re basically languages for networking that your computer will understand. AFP is Apple’s old version; I believe it’s Apple File Protocol or something.
Sam Mestman: But the bottom line is, it’s been pretty much removed as a standard; so it’s graduating outwards, whereas SMB is now Apple’s preferred networking standard. Along with NFS, actually, which is very well supported and those have pluses and minuses, depending on what you’re doing. However, we make recommendations to our customers all the time about them and, quite frankly, it’s a ton of stuff that I never wanted to learn, but now I know and I pass onto others, to save them, hopefully, a bunch of time.
Larry Jordan: For people that have questions about which to pick, there’s advice on Lumaforge’s website; in terms of which protocol is the best?
Sam Mestman: Yes. If you reach out to us, we’ve got a whole little graph on mentioning which one to use. In terms of SMB, typically, Adobe plays very well with SMB; so Adobe apps and Final Cut Libraries perform best on NFS. That’s something to consider. Resolve plays well on both. If you need to go cross platform you might be SMB with Windows; so Mac and Windows and SMB play well together; whereas Mac and Linux play better on NFS. There’s lots of ins and out, but we have a little chart that you can check out.
Larry Jordan: There’s no one simple solution is there?
Sam Mestman: I guess it’s a double edged sword. If there was, we wouldn’t exist and if there wasn’t, everyone’s life would be a lot easier.
Larry Jordan: By the way, congratulations on the news that your gear is now being sold in Apple stores; that’s a huge accomplishment.
Sam Mestman: Yes, thank you.
Larry Jordan: What does that tell you about the need for high performance storage into the mass market?
Sam Mestman: I think, what it tells you is that, the pro video market and video as a medium is exploding. Everybody is doing now; it’s required if you have a business, to have high quality video and the deliverables are exploding and the assets that are required and the amount that are coming in, escalating into 4K. At a certain point, when all that happens, you need something that’s going to manage that, in particular and I think it’s very clear the fact that, like, it’s now present on the Apple Store and things like that. There is a need to be served and I think we feel very privileged to be the company that Apple went with.
Larry Jordan: What should we be thinking about when we’re planning to add shared storage to our editing workflow:
Sam Mestman: Number one, who’s going to be managing it and what is the architecture that you need to put in and what is your workflow going to be? We build stuff that’s really easy and approachable for somebody as dumb as me to use. The question you should ask yourself fast is, is it going to be you who’s integrating this stuff, or are you going to have an IT person that’s dedicated to this; who’s going to manage some of the networking? What’s the relationship to the hardware going to be like and adjust accordingly.
Sam Mestman: Additionally, what is your workflow and can you get a demo of your workflow on whatever solution it is, prior to getting it; as I would recommend that you do so.
Larry Jordan: Sam, I just read about something called Faster Together. What’s this?
Sam Mestman: We’ve been doing this the last couple of years; once on the show floor and once across the street. It’s a bunch of sort of TED talk style presentations. But then we found out that the Super Meet was not going to be happening this year and we sort of talked to Michael Horton and we stepped in and we’re like, there has to be a cool event on a Tuesday night, that people can go to, that’s community focused, that’s going to put on great presentations.
Sam Mestman: We decided, instead of doing what we do on the show flow, with all these presentations, we decided to sort of pick up the mantle of the Super Meet and give the community a show that we’re really, really excited about. We wanted to make it focus back on the users and a little bit less of the technology dog and pony shows; so, everything you see is going to be from a user perspective and we’ve got some really, really cool presentations coming up. It’s going to be a blast and we’ve got Michael Horton involved. It’s going to be at the Rio on Tuesday night, at NAB.
Sam Mestman: If you were at the Super Meet last year, it’s going to be in the exact same place, it’s just going to be called Faster Together this year; but Michael Horton’s going to be there. There’s still going to be a raffle, there’s still going to be all the same people and then a bunch of new ones that you haven’t seen before.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like there’s all kinds of things happening in shared storage and things to learn. For people that want to learn more about the products and tools that Lumaforge has available, where can they go on the web?
Larry Jordan: That’s lumaforge.com and Sam Mestman is the President of Lumaforge. Sam, thanks for joining us today.
Sam Mestman: Larry, thanks as always.
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 platform specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in-depth organisational tools for busy production professionals.
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Larry Jordan: Jordan Winkelman is a Solutions Architect for Quantum. As such, he designs high performance scale out storage infrastructures for media and entertainment workflows. Hello Jordan, welcome.
Jordan Winkelman: Hello Larry, thanks for having me on tonight.
Larry Jordan: It is my pleasure. Solutions Architect is an unusual title. What do you do at Quantum?
Jordan Winkelman: In the enterprise storage space, there’s usually a person who listens to the customers’ needs and builds a customer solution that meets their specific workflows. I’m an architect who designs those storage solutions for media and entertainment customers, as well as those in other vertical markets, like sciences and oil and gas, seismic explorations and surveillance. We cover a lot of different markets, other than just the media and entertainment world.
Larry Jordan: For tonight, let’s stay focused on media and entertainment and, more specifically, let’s focus on smaller workgroups versus enterprises. How would you describe the products that Quantum creates for that market?
Jordan Winkelman: Quantum creates storage platforms that are shared storage, in what we call a scale out SAN. Think of it as taking a RAID and if you need to grow, adding another like sized RAID and that doubles your capacity and your performance. We can do that nearly forever. What we allow is for customers to start small and grow out their solution as their needs change; such as upgrading from HD to 4K, or 4K to 8K; meanwhile, maintaining a single disk that all of their end users to share, whether other a high performance protocol like Fibre Channel, or other a traditional NAS protocol like SMB, or NFLs.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I was noticing when I was wondering around Quantum’s website, researching this segment, is that Quantum makes a big deal out of its support for StorNext. What’s StorNext?
Jordan Winkelman: StorNext is our shared file system, that allows us to scale near infinitely. It was designed originally for high performance media workloads and big files like, you know, satellite video and things of the like. It allows us to develop these scalable infrastructures and it worked so well that, about 15 years ago, Apple actually licensed it and called it Xsan; even though it is the StorNext file system. They wrapped a pretty wrapper around our tool and sold it with the Excerpts and the Excerpts RAIDS and so, every Mac user actually has StorNext on their computer already.
Larry Jordan: Is StorNext something that would be used in a high performance editing environment; or is it better used for storage of completed assets?
Jordan Winkelman: Actually, it’s for both. We have both a high performance file system for video editorial; where you can scale from just a few users up to hundreds, all on the same big disk. But we also have a built-in archiving system, that allows us to write data down to tape libraries; like those the Quantum cells and into the Cloud, or into a variety of different disk formats or whatever you want to store the data on. It allows us to reduce the long-term costs of a customer’s archive data, by allowing them to move those assets down to a low cost storage like LTO, which has a $20 a terabyte price point.
Jordan Winkelman: Additionally, we have integration with pretty much every asset management system out there; so that you can search the archives via whatever your chosen asset management system is and retrieve that data back online, to be edited by a whole team of people. Very easy to get access to your data that’s no longer online.
Larry Jordan: Is StorNext something that we can use separate from Quantum Storage; or, do I have to have a Quantum box to be able to use StorNext?
Jordan Winkelman: I would say that it’s easiest to use the Quantum box, because we provide a server and the storage environment. There are customers that use other enterprise storage platforms under StorNext; but traditionally today, it’s usually Quantum Storage from top to bottom. We provide a full package solution with support from top to bottom; all the way down into the clients and it’s just easier when it’s part of a solution than it’s a known value.
Larry Jordan: One of the other new boxes that you’ve come out is using a protocol called NVMe and Tom Coughlin, earlier in the show, was explaining that NVMe is a way of talking to storage, to make it work a whole lot faster. What’s Quantum doing in this regard?
Jordan Winkelman: You had some great questions for some of your earlier guests about, is NVMe, you know, going to replace RAID. What Quantum is actually doing with NVMe today is building RAID systems on top of NVMe attached drives. NVMe is basically an extension of the PCI bus inside your computer and each NVMe drive, you know, will do something like three gigabytes per second. Most of your traditional RAID controllers today were designed for hard drives and as the new flash technologies have come out, the RAID controllers have actually been the bottlenecks.
Jordan Winkelman: Quantum has developed a new system that allows us to act as a software based RAID, so that you can get around the bottlenecks of traditional RAID controllers and make use of the very powerful Intel processors; to give you a near intranet amount of performances, based on the number of NVMe drives you have.
Jordan Winkelman: If you look at the SSD that, you know, has maybe an NVMe interface in most MacBook Pros today, those can go a couple of gigabytes per second, depending on which version you have. Well, we’ll take 24 NVMe drives, give you RAID on top of it and give you in the range of 20-24 gigabytes per second, read and write, in one small platform.
Larry Jordan: But how are you going to connect it, to be able to get that kind of performance?
Jordan Winkelman: We use what are called block protocols; whether a fibre channel, which is a single cable that goes 32 gigabytes; or a newer 100 gigabyte Ethernet protocol using RDMA or Remote Direct Memory Access; that allows you to team those cables, or those connections together and get the aggregate performance, even into a single workstation. We did most of our performance testing with a single server achieving 20 plus gigabytes per second.
Larry Jordan: That’s the new fabric that Tom was talking about; being able to connect via 100 gigabit Ethernet, to deliver that kind of performance to an individual workstation.
Jordan Winkelman: Correct.
Larry Jordan: That’s amazing stuff. Are you going to be showing this new device at NAB?
Jordan Winkelman: Absolutely. We are going to be demonstrating this device and typically we have uncompressed 8K workflows that we are doing in the booth; so that customers can see what you can really achieve with multiple uncompressed 8K streams running on the same system.
Larry Jordan: Uncompressed 8K. That will just leave my jaw on the floor. That’s amazing. Where can people go on the web to learn more about the products that Quantum is creating?
Jordan Winkelman: We have our traditional website, which is www.quantum.com; which has our entire product portfolio. But we also have www.stornext.com; which is very tuned and focused on the media and entertainment market.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. Jordan Winkelman is a Solutions Architect for Quantum and, Jordan, thanks for joining us today. The website is stornext.com and quantum.com and we’ll see you at NAB.
Jordan Winkelman: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, for most of my life, I viewed network television and, to a lesser extent, feature films as the ultimate in video production. They were the standard against which I judged all other programmes and, indeed, in today’s world, network television is creating some amazing work. But, for the last several years, I’ve also taught a university course; focused, not on filmmakers, or professional videographers, but on Engineering and Business students who want to improve their communication skills, in order to get a job in business.
Larry Jordan: In each of these classes, I discovered there was a balance. I wanted to explain and teach the techniques that professionals had developed over the years, to create successful promos, ads and programmes; while some of the students just wanted to learn enough to get by. Their mantra was, why do we need to learn this when we can be successful on YouTube without knowing any of this? That is a hard argument to refute. Some YouTubers generate tens of millions of views and millions of dollars; but not all of them, not even most of them.
Larry Jordan: Then tonight, Sam Mossman, President of Lumaforge, said something that clarified this issue for me. The pro video market, Sam said, and video as a medium, is exploding; everybody is doing it now. It’s required if you have a business to have high quality video and that is the key. Competition for customers and eyeballs has moved definitively from print to video; video on websites, video on social media, video on traditional media; no-one reads anymore. For any business to be successful, they must communicate effectively, clearly and powerfully, using moving images. White papers are read by geeks, videos are watched by the world.
Larry Jordan: For my students to succeed in the world today, they must master visual communication skills; it is no longer nice to know, it’s a business survival skill. Content creativity and quality are the touchpoints to success. Just as with my students, video professionals need to keep hammering the point that business success today relies on powerful visual stories; stories that capture the hearts and minds of customers.
Larry Jordan: Yes, there are challenges in our industry, but a lack of audience is not one of them. As Sam said, the world of video is exploding; our job as visual communicators is to harness that interest and remind potential clients that their business success rests on leveraging high quality video and communication tools. Simply, to keep up with the competition.
Larry Jordan: Creative visual content creators and that means us, are more critical to business success than ever. You don’t need to be a filmmaker to change the world; you only need to know how to unlock the power in the moving image and that skill belongs to all of us. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week; Jim Malcolm with Humaneyes, Tom Coughlin with Coughlin and Associates, Larry O’Connor with OWC, Sam Mestman with Lumaforge, Jordan Winkelman with Quantum and James DeRuvo with doddleNEWS. 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 all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Our Producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.