14 Replies Latest reply on Sep 28, 2010 5:03 PM by Matt Petersen

    Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5

    Colin Brougham Level 6

      As I've indicated over on the software forum (here and here), I'm putting together a proposal and suggested workflow for the capture, archiving, and metadata-enriching of over 200 hours of raw documentary content. The workflow part of it, I think I can pretty much suss out, with a bit of trial and error and brain-racking. However, it's the gear end of things that needs a bit of--shall we say--illumination. I've pretty much fallen out of the loop as far as keeping up with the latest in computer technology, as I prefer to just get my work done and think less about system building and tweaking, but I've read through some of the other threads and articles here about what works as far as Premiere Pro is concerned. I'm not a n00b when it comes to computer building: I've built more than I can recall, and am completely confident in doing so, but I just don't have the focus to keep up with the technology any longer. So, I'm hoping to leverage your real-world experience and your willingness to be creative when playing with someone else's money!

       

      Enough blather; here is some background and some parameters:

      • Money is "not an object," practically speaking, but I'm not looking to go hog-wild on unnecessary gear.
      • The content I've capturing and archiving is almost 100% Betacam SP footage; there are over 425 tapes in the library, constituting over 200 hours of raw content. The footage is primarily interviews, with corresponding location footage and b-roll; I would estimate the interviews to make up approximately 85% of the total content.
      • The project has a couple of goals:
        1. Preserve the footage, which is on decaying analog Beta SP tapes. The earliest tapes go back to about 1998, and range up to this year.
        2. Democratize the information contained in the footage: through both DVDs and (ideally) an online, keyword-searchable library, make the content available to anyone.
        3. Monetize the information contained in the footage: provide uncompressed or at least edit-ready versions of the content to news organizations, educational institutions, and other producers.
        4. Generate produced content from the raw material: the footage will be used to create broadcast and web-distributed documentaries and other similar media projects
      • I need to build two workstations, both able to capture and edit up to and including uncompressed 8-bit (maybe 10-bit?) NTSC SD. These workstations will likely never touch a single frame of HD footage of any kind. Any editing done on them will not likely be effects-laden; possible color-correction, but nothing too overwhelming.
        1. Workstation #1 would be the primary capture, logging, and library-injection station: it would likely not be used for any real heavy-duty "editing" (read: content assembly). It would be primarily a conduit for ingesting the analog material, cleaning it up, adding pertinent metadata, and dropping it into a shared storage appliance. It would potentially be used for encoding/generating web-format previews of the raw materials.
        2. Workstation #2 would be capable of all of the above, but would also be used for content assembly, e.g. editing the main documentary feature.
      • Ideally, we will be able to utilize some sort of shared storage for ingest and editing, instead of nearline storage on one or both of the workstations. This is the part where I need the most input, as I'm not sure what is the best course of action to take with this particular piece of hardware. For the record, I'm not talking about working simultaneously on the same footage; I know Premiere is not really designed for a networked production environment. However, I think it should be feasible to have one workstation dumping material onto the storage system, while the other retrieves it. Basically, I want to avoid redundant copies of the captured material: ingest once, use multiple times. By my calculations, 8-bit uncompressed SD for our quantity of footage will occupy 15+ terabytes (!!!) of storage. Now, in all practical terms, the actual useable and preservation-worthy content is less than two-thirds of that amount, but we will need some sort of buffer.
      • I need an I/O card for both workstations, for ingest from a BetaSP deck and output to a monitor. I'm not sure you can even get SD-only cards new any more, but I'd like to hear what folks suggest. I've worked with both Blackmagic and AJA hardware before (though older models) and have no particular preference.
      • Output will be DVD, web-distributable formats, and (eventually) broadcast, though it's a long time before that is a necessity.

       

      So, that's what I'm dealing with on this project. I'd appreciate any input on any of these aspects. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty assembling my own workstations, but I'm tempted to just go off-the-shelf or work with a systems integrator so that it's one less thing that I have to think about and then manage and support. I realize there is greater expense and less flexibility going this route, so please, convince me that that is NOT the way to go.

       

      I thank you in advance...

        • 1. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          Colin,

           

          Thanks you for your exemplary explanation of the issue at hand. If everybody were that clear in defining the question and relevant background material, life would be so much easier. Compliments.

           

          Despite all your efforts to draw a clear picture, I do have one important question: Is using uncompressed absolutely necessary or would it be feasible to use DV?

           

          This is important for ingest, storage, bandwidth and response times, as well as the $$$ involved.

           

          If you were to say DV is OK, because the editing will mainly be shortening some original shots, cutting out some of the interview, and some color correction, nothing fancy, then the solutions may be quite easy.

           

          Ingest:

           

          Consider a Grass Valley/ Canopus ADVC-300 or higher to ingest. Your Betacam SP material will automatically be converted to DV, making for easy editing and a storage requirement that is about 5 times lower than uncompressed. For 200 hours of source material, your storage requirements are around 2.6 TB instead of 13 TB, just for the source material

           

          Workflow:

           

          Capture on PC1 over the GV/Canopus ADVC-300+ (200+ hours). Store (see below) and access from PC2 for editing and store again for export.

           

          Storage:

           

          Use a file server to store all source material. If possible use dual NIC's for the network connection. So if tape 1 had been captured, transfer it to the file server over the dual NIC's (fast) and then access that tape from the server for local storage and editing on PC2, again using dual NIC's.

           

          Use a Thecus N7700 or QNAP TS-809 Pro for backups. The Thecus has iSCSI (no sure about the QNAP) which makes it pretty easy to manage.

           

          UPS:

           

          Really get or use a UPS to safeguard your data with such a large collection.

           

          Hope this helps.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
            Colin Brougham Level 6

            Harm,

            Thanks you for your exemplary explanation of the issue at hand. If everybody were that clear in defining the question and relevant background material, life would be so much easier. Compliments.

            Aw, shucks... thanks Most people just say I'm way to detailed and analytical!

            Despite all your efforts to draw a clear picture, I do have one important question: Is using uncompressed absolutely necessary or would it be feasible to use DV?

            Well... that's the question. Ultimately, space requirements and throughput requirements expand practically exponentially when using uncompressed media. Life would certainly be much easier if all this material was DV or even something like DVCPROHD, but I'm grappling with preserving this material in as pristine of a fashion as I can. It documents a major movement and a formative part of history here in the States, so I'm necessarily reluctant to commit it to DV or similar. I'd be willing to considering something like DV50 or maybe one of the proprietary compressed formats available from various vendors (Blackmagic, AJA, Matrox--not!), but that sort of pigeonholes me to a particular OS or NLE or just otherwise is restrictive. If I'm going uncompressed, I can move this footage just about anywhere, and it'll be usable (immediate editing, notwithstanding).

             

            So, I'm at a bit of an impasse here. I'm not really sure how this will all shake out. There are, quite obviously, no easy solutions.

            Ingest:

             

            Consider a Grass Valley/ Canopus ADVC-300 or higher to ingest. Your Betacam SP material will automatically be converted to DV, making for easy editing and a storage requirement that is about 5 times lower than uncompressed. For 200 hours of source material, your storage requirements are around 2.6 TB instead of 13 TB, just for the source material

            I've used the 300 before, and it's a decent unit, but since it doesn't have component input I'll have to rule it out--particularly if I'm going to convert to DV. To date, for the near-term project I've been working on, I've been capturing using FCP and a BlackMagic DeckLinkSP card to QuickTime DV MOVs (sorry--I can hear you grinding your teeth now). I move the files over to my PC-based Premiere Pro CS4 workstation/laptop, and have no problems editing. The footage looks pretty good, too; there is DV artifacting, but it's not too bad. What's nice is that timecode comes along with the QT files, which makes recapture or relinking a breeze; I'm not sure I can capture/preserve the original TC from the BetaSP tapes by using an out-board unit like the ADVC-300. I could be wrong about this, though. In any event, I lean somewhat toward an internal I/O option because of this.

             

            Obviously, the storage requirements are a compelling reason to go DV or with some other compressed codec.

            Storage:

             

            Use a file server to store all source material. If possible use dual NIC's for the network connection. So if tape 1 had been captured, transfer it to the file server over the dual NIC's (fast) and then access that tape from the server for local storage and editing on PC2, again using dual NIC's.

             

            Use a Thecus N7700 or QNAP TS-809 Pro for backups. The Thecus has iSCSI (no sure about the QNAP) which makes it pretty easy to manage.

            What do you suggest for a file server? Should it be another PC, decked out with massive numbers of hard drives, or should I look at one of the SAN solutions, for example from G-Tech, Sonnet or Rorke Data? From what I've read, GigE should actually be fast enough for a couple of streams of uncompressed SD, without the need to go to something like FibreChannel. I'll never be pulling more than a couple streams at once, anyway, for any post-production on this project.

             

            I just talked with a dealer I've worked with in the past, and they've developed a new archive solution for us "smaller guys". It's called the Guardian and use LTO tapes for archival backup. I think it looks like it might be the ticket for the long-term storage of all this footage, and it's data tape, so it's more or less nonlinear if I ever need to go pull something off the tapes. It's a bit pricy, but I think the powers-that-be would recognize the importance of preserving this history. Plus, there is another project with nearly twice as much material waiting in the wings, if this works out, so it might be a worthwhile investment.

             

            And a UPS? No question!

             

            I'm sure this just serves to muddy the waters more! This is a pretty big deal--at least as far as I'm concerned--so I'm trying to think of all the possible variables before making the first step into the project, and since this isn't just for posterity's sake, I want to be sure it's done right. I really appreciate your input on this, Harm... you're just the guy I was hoping would weigh in!

             

            Any thoughts on building workstations for this particular purpose? I don't need total state of the art hardware, due to the editing style that will be employed, but I'd like to make the process as smooth and fret-free as it can possibly be.

             

            Many thanks!

            • 3. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
              ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

              Decklink will give you the option to use uncompressed or Motion Jpeg. I would highly recommend using the Motion Jpeg for this material. The Files wont be nearly as big as uncompressed and it's the most common recommended codec for archive.

               

              NAS or SAN solutions like Thecus/Clairtek Inc
              N8800: 2U Rackmount, 8 HDD Support FEATURES: 8xSATA, Stackable, iSCSI Ready, Multiple File System, Enhanced system performance for storage computing Raid 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD, QIG, CD title, power cord, Ethernet Cable, HDD tray keys, Drive Clone 5.0 CD

               

              Are the most commonly used live archive solution today. You can set these up easy enough and they give you basically infinite storage capability with redudancy at a low price. You can also use back up software to shadow 1 unit to another to increase your layers of backup.

               

              That Tape backup server is actually very slick. I have never been a tape fan since the advent of live network storage but that looks interesting and would be worth looking into for video library storage. Just make sure you add in the cost of the long term tapes with the server cost. Looks definitely worth looking into though.

              • 4. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                Colin Brougham Level 6

                Thanks for the input, EC. MotionJPEG would probably be fine, now that you mention it, especially given enough bitrate to run with. It won't be quite as lossy as DV, and the space savings (even if it's only a small percentage) will add up with this amount of material. The data pipe won't have to be nearly as fat, either.

                 

                I'm pretty interested in the tape archive server, too. Given that LTO tape costs about $30 for 800GB of storage (!!!), we could even afford to be redundant with our backups and split them to two different physical locations. The server isn't pennies, obviously, but the long-term benefit seems to be most certainly worth it, to me.

                 

                Please pardon my ignorance, but since it sounds like you know what you're talking about, can you explain what the difference is between SAN, NAS, and any other snarly acronyms? What sort of setup (thank you for the specific example) is best for multiple workstations accessing the same material?

                 

                Thank you again for the input!

                • 5. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                  Wikipedia actually doesn't have a bad explanation for these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_area_network

                   

                  Basically though NAS's and SAN's differ mainly in the protocol they use for data transfer and communication. The SAN's Protocol is faster because it has less layers than the standard NAS TCP/IP protocol. SAN's require a certain service to connect to or manage. The protocol is based on the connectivity which is iSCSI for Gbit connections.

                   

                  The benefit of these solutions is they stay live for clients all of the time so client's can pull data as needed. If you have a unit that has multiple GBIT ports and supports load balancing, you can increase the speed of the storage unit. The speed increase is the maximum bandwidth per Gbit connection for Gigabit networks. That is about 125 MB/s per Gbit connection but normally works out to be 80 to 100MB/s actual on SAN units per Gbit connection depending on the units you get. Motion Jpeg SD bit rate is more than low enough to run directly from SAN's and you might get a couple clients per Gbit connection. If not clients can move files locally to work and then back to SAN when finished.

                   

                  If you want shared storage to work from to go with the Tape backup server then you will need to combine the 2 together. 1 or 2 SAN units and the Tape server unit.

                  • 6. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                    Colin Brougham Level 6

                    Brilliant; that is extremely helpful. Thanks so much!

                    • 7. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                      Colin Brougham Level 6

                      Does anyone have an opinion of the Data Robotics DroboElite? Pricewise it looks to be a little more than the Thecus and featurewise, it looks fairly comparable, and I like the thought of being able to start "small" (crazy when we can call 8TB "small") and build up as needed. But maybe I'm just wowed by how simple it looks...?

                       

                      Also, with the apparently standard dual GigE connections on most or all of these NAS units, how do you best utilize that connectivity? Since I'll be having two workstations that need access to the NAS, do I connect one workstation to each of the ports, or do you run through a switch/hub/router/whatever? I'd just like to be able to keep the pipe open as wide as possible for simultaneous ingest and edting/playback as needed.

                      • 8. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                        Harm Millaard Level 7

                        The most flexible way is to use a managed switch. That way you can allocate priorities, depending on your need for speed.

                        • 9. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                          Colin Brougham Level 6

                          I might be refining my initial workstation building goals quite a bit. Instead of building two new systems, I think I'm going to build one new i7 workstation that will be the primary "editing" rig, and then, since the project already has a Mac Pro running FCP, I'm going to upgrade the OS, GPU and RAM, add a capture card of some sort, install Premiere, and then use that as our "capture/logging" rig. With the Mac, I'll hang an external RAID off of it for raw capture, and then we'll get one of the NAS solutions to use as a near-term archive as we process the footage. Then, I can shuffle footage over from the NAS to the internals on the PC workstation for the actual editing. Since I'm the lead editor on the project, and I'm more comfortable on a PC, and the guy who will be the ***'t editor is more of a Mac-dork, this would work. Any thoughts on this workflow?

                           

                          I've been looking at some of the other more recent threads in which others have laid out their build plans, so I took a crack at picking some pieces over at Newegg. My eyes start to glaze over after looking at this stuff for awhile, and reading user reviews becomes a fruitless endeavor after after too much geek-speak. Talk about making me feel old...at 31! Anyway, if any of you who know your stuff could take a look at this and help me refine it, I would be grateful:

                           

                          Qty.Product DescriptionSavingsTotal Price
                          1
                          LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe  Support
                          LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe  Support
                          Item #: N82E16827106335
                          Return Policy: Standard  Return Policy

                          $28.99
                          1
                          COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower  Computer Case
                          COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower  Computer Case
                          Item #: N82E16811119160
                          Return Policy: Standard  Return Policy
                          -$20.00 Instant

                          $159.99
                          $139.99
                          2
                          Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s  3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
                          Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s  3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
                          Item #: N82E16822136284
                          Return Policy: Standard  Return Policy
                          -$10.00 Instant

                          $219.98
                          $199.98
                          ($99.99 each)
                          1
                          Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM SATA  3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
                          Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM SATA  3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
                          Item #: N82E16822136296
                          Return Policy: Standard  Return Policy

                          $149.99
                          1
                          COOLER MASTER Silent Pro RS850-AMBAJ3-US 850W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V  v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power  Supply
                          COOLER MASTER Silent Pro RS850-AMBAJ3-US 850W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V  v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active ...
                          Item #: N82E16817171048
                          Return Policy: Standard  Return Policy
                          -$30.00 Instant

                          $179.99
                          $149.99
                          1
                          Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System  Builders
                          Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders  - OEM
                          Item #: N82E16832116758
                          Return Policy: Software  Standard Return Policy

                          $139.99
                          1
                          ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX  Intel Motherboard
                          Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core  Desktop Processor Model BX80601930
                          OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3  12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK
                          -$36.00 Instant
                          -$20.00 Combo

                          $824.97
                          $768.97
                          Subtotal:$1,577.90

                           

                          I'm missing some parts, like a CPU cooler, additional fans, and GPU; I welcome suggestions on all. I'm not sure quite what to do about the GPU: I'd either be satisfied getting the GTX 285, or maybe one of the other GTX models that can be enabled with the hack. I'm not going to require much in the way of GPU acceleration for the kind of work I'll be doing with this box (at least, I don't think so), so the latter option would OK as either a permanent installation or a cheaper temporary installation that would be replaced if/when the GTX 400 series gets the green light.

                           

                          So, what needs to be cut, and what needs to be bumped? Geeks: speak to me!

                           

                          Thanks, all...

                          • 10. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                            Chuck A. McIntyre Level 3

                            I would double-check that Coolermaster power supply on your list.  It's been some time since I've read a PSU torture test.  In the last test I read though, the Coolermaster Power supplies didn't do too well.  There may have been flames and smoke if I am remembering correctly. I use Coolermaster cases though.  I think their cases are great.  I have had great success with Corsair Power Supplies.  We recently bought two monster 1000 watt units with the installable power cables.  The Corsair power supplies are highly rated.  I think PC Power and Cooling, now owned by OCZ still make the very finest Power Supplies available.

                            • 11. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                              Colin Brougham Level 6

                              Thanks Chuck! Actually, I was looking at the specs for the machines you built, and this is partially inspired by that. The PSU was one I was completely unsure of, and saw that you were using the Corsair unit.

                               

                              If I'm not going to be overloading this machine with drives and a crazy monster GPU, can I get away with something in the 800-900W range? The 1000W is pretty spendy, and seems like it might be overkill for the purposes of the machine for this project.

                               

                              Thanks again.

                              • 12. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                                Harm Millaard Level 7

                                Colin,

                                 

                                Have a look here for the PSU and see what is needed under 100% load and with 30% capacitor aging and then add 10 - 15% to the suggested wattage to be safe: eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Pro v2.5

                                • 13. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                  We have been using certain coolermaster PSU's for over a year now and their failure rate has been the lowest we have seen in

                                  years. They are also very quiet if you get the right ones. I am not sure which units were tested in what the previous post mentioned but the ones we use definitely do not have any problems. 900W should be more than enough for what you need.

                                   

                                  The Drobo Pro's are great for data backup but are slower than the standard SAN/NAS units due to the modified raid they implement. A Drobo Pro will be about 20 to 25MB/s a sec slower than the standard SAN/NAS units. If you want to work directly from the network storage then a Drobo is not the way to go. If you want it as a backup/archive solution get the Drobo for that. Get a standard SAN/NAS for direct editing storage.

                                  • 14. Re: Guidance needed for building workstations and a workflow around CS5
                                    Matt Petersen Level 3

                                    sorry to re-open this old thread.

                                     

                                    Colin, I was just wondering how you got, particularly with your shared storage solution.

                                     

                                    I'm just about to add a third edit box to our small studio. Currently we do the "hard drive shuffle", with our main working disks being drives in e-Sata cradle. The performance we're getting is fine (our max footage at the moment is HDV).

                                     

                                    As I watched the copy speed (through TeraCopy) of a file across our GB network, it occured to me that editing off some sort of shared system, via our existing Cat 6, might be a distinct possibility.

                                     

                                    So to cut a long question short: did you implement a shared file system based on network infrastructure, which one, and how is it working for you??

                                     

                                    kind regards

                                     

                                    Matthew P