Final Cut Server

Tim Burton's picture

[img]http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/2007/04/dsc_3184.jpg/img

[img]http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/2007/04/dsc_3186.jpg/img

Sounds very interesting, and i'm sure xsan is a key supporting technology.

We plan to get our hands on it asap.

T

aaron's picture

More info on the home page when I understand everything better. For now, please discuss. You folks in Las Vegas will understand this weekend better than I can hope to.

Aaron Freimark
CTO, Tekserve

aaron's picture

The webpage http://www.apple.com/finalcutserver/ does mention Xsan, which means our site isn't dead yet!

It is definitely Proximity with an Apple finish. And maybe a bit of Compressor hacked in.

I wonder what effect this will have on B4M?

Aaron Freimark
CTO, Tekserve

Tim Burton's picture

its very exciting for us, the synamic overlays feature is very good as its problematic to export a QT ref as u need all effects rendered (takes too much time).

The way I see it working for us is:

Xsan for workstations
LAN for producer / client imacs
web based content for aprooval and logging.

aaron's picture

ArtBox had a Java-based browser that worked from any web client without additional software. It seems Apple kept that around. One of the screenshots from Apple's promo video shows it running on a Windows client.

Aaron Freimark
CTO, Tekserve

Tim Burton's picture

I think it would radically alter how we interact with our xsan volumes in a day to day FCP enviroment. If all types of media can be imported into a project from the FC Server client, renders would be automatically added and even projects can be 'checked in and out' then why would we need to open the volume? (obviously it would need to be mounted)

MattG's picture

Tim's last comment is straight-on.

The idea is a solution that eschews direct SAN access from the Finder, creating a workflow layer between the apps and the storage. Although FCServer certainly doesn't need Xsan, it accelerates the use of Xsan with its intelligent understanding of the location of both the original media and the proxies that it automatically generates.

Greetings from the show floor.

What we have is a back-end that handles the cataloging, automatic transcoding and copying, notifications and responses based on events, watched folders, or other criteria being met. It's designed to run on an Mac (at a small shop, Xserve at a large install) which preferably is a client of an Xsan system.

The front end, as mentioned, is a java client that actually can be initially downloaded from a web browser pointed to the FCServer. This means that anyone, anywhere in the world, with proper credentials, can have access to proxied versions of the media at the facility, and can even chose to slow-boat the hi-res to the station that they're working at. Because FCServer clearly knows where source and proxy media are, it can automaticaly download hi-res to a machine that isn't SAN attached (read: MacBook Pro on the LAN) or provide links to SAN-based files for machines that are Xsan clients.

The clincher is the interaction with FCP, which, at the show, is looking rather seamless. The contents of a newly created FCP project can be directly saved as an project in FCServer. Changes to the project within FCServer update the next time the project is accessed. Check-in and check-out features finally give us the project locking we've needed with collaboration, and lastly, changes to the existing project at the end of a session are again updated in FCServer with a save and a check-in.

Oh, one more morsel: Because an instance of Compressor 3 is running inside, FCServer will be a means-by-which to conform source media to the "house codec," especially for facilities that ingest a wide range of formats.

It's an exciting time to be a video-based Xsan admin!

Tim Burton's picture

Indeed it is.

A lot of the workflow steps FC Server automates we are currently hand cranking, for exmaple creating proxy media using the media manage tool. Its the level of sophistication that xsan needed to compete with Unity.

I assume there is to be a level of authentication? As a post house with 10+ clients and 30+ projects in at any one time, we can have people 'borrowing' other peoples media. It would be loverly if my OD user logons apply across the board and to even the web service.

Could media be 'checked in' via the web interface?

Tim

andym's picture

aaron wrote:
I wonder what effect this will have on B4M?/quote

As a current customer I'd be very interested to get some more info on FCS. If we can finally have an end-to-end solution that 'works' and also interacts with ENPS (this is crucial) then I'll be as happy as a dog with multiple appendages..... :D

aaron's picture

[b]The five steps to Xsan, 2007 edition/b

  1. Get a Final Cut Pro system on a Mac. Come up with a witty name for your company./*
  2. Grow. Get a second or third FCP system. Don't share content./*
  3. Get Final Cut Server, run it over Gigabit. Bask in the new world of collaboration./*
  4. (about one week later) Hmm, this is slower than I thought. Learn about Xsan from [url=http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/resources/white_papers/L330496A-US_L... marketing/url. Get an FC switch. Buy Xsan. DIY./*
  5. Hmm, this is still slower than I thought, and now I'm crashing. Discover Xsanity. Find an expert to come in and reengineer the SAN. Double your storage. Get a backup solution. Get a workflow. /*/listThere's going to be a lot of business this year for good Xsan engineers.

Aaron Freimark
CTO, Tekserve

That's why you'll hopefully catch them at step [1], except for the witty name part, they'll definetely have to do that part themselves.

mark raudonis's picture

Cynical, but true.

Perhaps more optimistic, and definitely more profitable are the numerous MAJOR PLAYERS that are taking serious looks at FCP/X-SAN.

Mark

aaron's picture

OK, some anti-cynicism: What do you all think about launching a Final Cut Server section on Xsanity?

Aaron Freimark
CTO, Tekserve

Tim Burton's picture

Sounds like a good idea to me.

I see MattG has been busy writing the FCS quick reference guide.
[img]http://www.peachpit.com/content/downloads/peachpit/images/aptscovers/032.../img

Ok question, which machines would process the proxy files? The FC server? Would you need multiple licenses of FC Server to have multiple render machines?

MattG's picture

Well now that Tim has outed me...

Each copy of FCServer has an embedded instance of Compressor 3. That's what will make the proxies. Further, for about $3.5K additional, you'll be able to plug in an Episode Engine from Telestream and get WMV, FLV, VC1, etc. support as well.

Compressor 3, therefore, is only obtainable in three forms: within FCStudio (for $1299), FCServer 10-client ($999), or FCServer unlimited ($1999). It's not hard to figure out that the least expensive way to get a copy of Compressor 3 is by getting the $999 version of FCServer.

Compressor 3, like version 2, can be clustered via Qmaster. So, to offload the proxy making process, or any other automated process that you instruct FCServer to perform, simply buy a series of Xserves and install FCServer on them, and then cluster the Compressor instances together. Remember, to get Episode to work with all this will require separate instances of Episode Engine as well. So, the cost starts adding up, but can you imagine the speed of a cluster of Intel-enabled Compressor 3/Epsiode Engine nodes handling proxies, conforms, or cross-conversions?

Which leads to a sobering realization: Xsan design was given a great reprieve with the introduction of ProRes. This new codec will enable current bandwidths to handle HD workflows at high quality without needing to recreate volumes. But, FCServer will send us right back to the drawing board: designing dedicated volumes and/or storage pools to handle the bandwidth that the FCServer(s) will pull from the storage when churning away. Initial ideas are to govern the speed / frequency of proxy jobs in order to prevent productivity on the SAN from screeching to a grinding halt.

Which leads me to the next question [which would fit perfectly well on the new 'Final Cut Server' board] about the mention of the Episode Engine plugin into Compressor, both running locally on one machine, or clustered on a couple.
Everybody mentiones this plugin for the extra options off encoding to WMV, FLV, IMX etc., but what about using the Episode codecs for others like MPeg2 et all. Here in 'PAL country' there have been a LOT of issues with Compressors codec for MPeg2 VBR, and they where usually solved by pointing our customers towards Episode. Will we still be able to replace shaky builtin codes from Compressor with rock solid third party ones??

JohnM's picture

Artbox- 0ver 100k

MediaBeacon- 80k+ value added goodies.

FCPServer- 2k

No brainer.

ateazz's picture

heya guys

what I like about it, i dont have to worrie about contentbase or fileserve based licenses.
I like the new approach a lot
now i hope, i can "easily" export the old database to a new one.

greetzz

jelloknee's picture

aaron wrote:
[b]The five steps to Xsan, 2007 edition/b
  1. Get a Final Cut Pro system on a Mac. Come up with a witty name for your company./*
  2. Grow. Get a second or third FCP system. Don't share content./*
  3. Get Final Cut Server, run it over Gigabit. Bask in the new world of collaboration./*
  4. (about one week later) Hmm, this is slower than I thought. Learn about Xsan from [url=http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/resources/white_papers/L330496A-US_L... marketing/url. Get an FC switch. Buy Xsan. DIY./*
  5. Hmm, this is still slower than I thought, and now I'm crashing. Discover Xsanity. Find an expert to come in and reengineer the SAN. Double your storage. Get a backup solution. Get a workflow. /*/listThere's going to be a lot of business this year for good Xsan engineers./quote

    Just take a look at the perfect solution at one of Apples best European video customers:

    http://www.lunasystems.nl/page1/page1.html

    OK this guys site is in Dutch but u can get the gist... full digital end-to-end workflow with the XSan and the MatrixStore based on the Xserve platform.

    Rough translation:

    - 3 Xsan's 50 TB (TerraBytes) ... its now actually nearer 70TB
    - 8 Final Cut Pro montage set's
    - 4 Ingest FCP set's
    - 11 FORK servers/ingest/playout/eindregie Xserve's
    - Artbox (Should move to Final Cut Server)
    - FlipFactory
    - MatrixStore digital asset archive 50 TB
    - Apple's Open Directory

jelloknee's picture

more detail in the EO reference doc from Object Matrix website...

http://object-matrix.com/downloads.shtml

mostly marketing blurb .. interesting but marketing .. appendix page is probs the best.

yep, they also have a [url=http://www.apple.com/nl/pro/publishing/eo/]Apple Pro Story/url on the site for a while now, though also in dutch. couldn't find an englisch version of it.

jelloknee's picture

http://www.apple.com/uk/pro/profiles/amv/

I wonder if these guys and EO will be going down the FCS route.

donald's picture

jelloknee wrote:
http://www.apple.com/uk/pro/profiles/amv/

I wonder if these guys and EO will be going down the FCS route./quote

It has our attention ;-)
Do not be too optimistic. We have the components, but a good workflow is another step.

donald (at eo dot nl)

Tim Burton's picture

I was over at AMV a couple of weeks ago, and they were quite keen to move to FC Server.

T

neilsm's picture

Quote:
Compressor 3, like version 2, can be clustered via Qmaster./quote

Has anyone figured out a way to implement a reliable and effecient 'render farm' for Apple COLOR using any combination of:-

1) multiple versions of COLOR attached to a 4gb fiber SAN

2) Xsan

3) Qmaster

4) Xgrid

5) anythng else that will get around the GPU bottleneck required for rendering QTs or DPX out of Apple COLOR ... will FC Server help?

Thanks,
Neil
Hollywood-DI
LA. CA

Tim Burton's picture

only rather crudely duplicating the project and sending different shots to render on multiple machines.

Speed wise, the 8Core X1900 setup seems to be the one to have, easily kills our old quad G5 when rendering.

Did anyone ever get a copy of 'Final Render' out of Roland?

jelloknee's picture

Anyone have the inside scoop on when FCS might actually be released? I guess IBC but I get the impression that it may be too soon given that there is not much chatter around the beta-test programs.

Tim Burton's picture

End of this month for beta! End of next month for GM, thats the rumour.

T

Yep, there's reseller training planned somewhere pretty close after the IBC, which has been told to me wouldn't happen if they wouldn't have something to train with.

jelloknee's picture

Tim Burton wrote:
End of this month for beta! End of next month for GM, thats the rumour.
/quote

Anyone taken delivery yet?

J

Scot Olson's picture

Any word on a release date for Final Cut Server?

I wouldn't be expecting something before December or so...

jelloknee's picture

March being touted....

owch!

mark raudonis's picture

What happened? Did they divert resources to fixing media manager? :)

Mark

maccebu's picture

hi all,

which do you think is better b4m or apple finalcut server? please give insight to those who are using b4m...

thanks

Scot Olson's picture

Bumping this thread in hopes of an estimated release date for Final Cut Server. Anyone in the know?

Tim Burton's picture

NAB I would say.

T

Scot Olson's picture

NAB is my hope as well, however - if you had a great new product aimed squarely at the TV station/broadcast market - and ready to ship - would you pull completely out of NAB as an exhibitor?

Tim Burton's picture

nope id stick it on the website and let all the systems integrators plug it for you.

T

jelloknee's picture

Tim Burton wrote:
nope id stick it on the website and let all the systems integrators plug it for you.

T/quote

That and create such a fuss about not going that they get more attention for releasing FCS whilst not there than if they had attended...

Clever folks...

Bryson's picture

I'll be looking for an announcement myself @ NAB. But honestly, this is going to be a bigger product for xsan admins than anyone else. The OD and server background that it requires to integrate make it basically unusable to anyone without a good admin.

Boys, get ready, you're stock is going up again.

That $2,000 will only let you get a good look at how much you're going to have to spend to get it running correctly. I saw the "no-brainer" comment a few pages back and had to respond.

My estimate, FCP = $10-20,000 to roll out in a working fashion for hardware and software, not counting the SAN/storage with a healthy consulting contract to keep it rolling, pretty much as aaron laid it out... unless you have in house smart guys like the folks on here. Once again Apple secures our future by buying an enterprise level solution and rolling out to our "point and click" friends. I can't wait to see the "FCP Server Assistant". ;) Still, I'm stoked to see them start this market, just like they did with raids and SAN. I do way more work on third party stuff because Apple paved the way. It's all good news.