Shared Project vs. Shared Media

Shared media was a very big thing when it became available in the mid-90s. Back then 67 gigs cost $20,000 and fit into a case the size of a suitcase. Sharing your media could save a lot of money.

But today, with 500 gig drives becoming common, storage costs peanuts. And that makes me wonder whether shared storage is such a big deal anymore. 300 gigs can hold a typical feature film at Avid’s 14:1 compression. With DNxHD 36, the same material would take up roughly a terabyte.

So we’re not sharing storage to save money anymore. We’re doing it for convenience, to avoid the time and trouble involved in duplicating media every day during production, and in duplicating render files as they’re created. I’m starting to wonder whether it’s worth it. The Media Composer seems to be more responsive with local storage, and local storage is smaller, lighter and quieter. You don’t have to run cables, you don’t have to buy or rent Unity, you don’t have to manage Unity.

The big loss, if you go with duplicated media, is the ability to share a project. You need Unity to do that. And that just doesn’t make sense anymore. With today’s CPUs, I can’t believe that we need a big, expensive server to share a li’l ole project. I suspect that you could easily support two users with the project hosted on one of their editing machines. But even if you had to go with a separate CPU, you ought to be able to do it for a couple of thousand bucks.

In other words, the sweet spot for a small film is shared project and duplicated media. In fact, it ought to be possible to do your media duplication automatically, with a utility that would compare media folders across a network and synchronize them.

This just isn’t rocket science anymore. Lighter is better. And Avid ought to make it possible. For a small editing environment with an editor and an assistant or two, Unity feels more and more like a sledge hammer banging in a carpet tack. Final Cut is going to add shared projects one of these days and when they do, you can be sure they’ll do it inexpensively. Avid could do it now and show independents that it understands what they need.

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7 Comments on “Shared Project vs. Shared Media”

  1. Mark Burton Says:

    A Sleek Unity would be great for feature work – small form factor, quiet(er), limited connections.
    Personally I want to see this area perfected rather than a duplicated media setup.

    As a side note, Editshare version 5 boasts:
    “Powerful Synchronization Tool; Duplicate media files across two or more servers — whether they’re located in the same building or on the other side of the world.”

    Plus, a system which would seem to suite the Unity lite setup; Editshare Field
    http://www.editshare.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=134&Itemid=170

    I used a 2TB Editshare on a feature a few years ago and although it was a much older version (v2.0) with no shared project support, it performed really well and was rock solid. It was ridiculously noisy though! This field unit looks very promising for smaller feature setups, especially if you are travelling around with the shoot.

  2. Steve Says:

    Looks interesting — no pricing on their site, though. Do you know how much it costs?

  3. Mark Burton Says:

    I can’t find a price for the Field unit online, but their standard 19″ studio unit with the same 3TB is around $6,750:
    http://www2.promax.com/EditShare-3TB-Storage

    I guess the field unit may be a bit more expensive. Good value though.

  4. oded farber Says:

    you talk about all the NAS solutions as rocket science, but beside Editshare, the main issue in NAB this year was exactly these solutions.
    you can VM (virtual machine) your whole office and make your media and storage available to your offline, online sound and secretaries.
    use your secretary’s CPU to render and share projects between Avid, FCP, afterFX etc…
    place a one suite for digitizing and the rest is tapeless…
    nor Avid or Editshare offers it – yet. but the tech is there

  5. Mark Burton Says:

    Ok, the Field unit is $22,500 ! WOW. Forget the field unit, go with the standard 19″ unit, much better value and perfect for shared feature work.

  6. oded farber Says:

    anyone that is interested in this subject can get some answers through:

    http://orenshalmy.googlepages.com/

    he’s currently involved in a central storage/data solution project.

  7. Steve Says:

    Not much on that page. Can you give us more information?


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