Looking for Networked Storage
Our small studio is currently running 3 Win 7/64bit edit bays with Adobe CS4 and CS5 editing XDcam, HDV and Canon 5dm2 files. I am looking to add centralized storage that can be accessed by all 3 computers. We plan on getting away from editing projects on local hard drives and switching to editing footage via the networked storage. Can I just get a NAS file server and edit off of that, or are those mainly for storage only? I don't think I need to go the fiber channel route and would like to stick with Ethernet. I have plenty of 1T to 1.5T 7200 Sata drives that I can use to fill a storage bay. Looking to spend 3 to 5k. Since I am new to this, please let me know what I would need hardware wise to set up something like this.
You cannot take drives that are lying around and build a network storage device that will work or be reliable for video editing, especially HD (even though it's compressed) over NAS.
You CAN purchase systems that are made for this purpose and it will work (even for compresed HD over Gig-E ethernet). But I don't think 3-5K would be anywhere close to enough to build a system that will:
Another issue you might run into is HDV is typically a nightmare to work with in terms of decoding for playback on most NLE systems. Many people transcode to a lighter codec, like Cineform, Matrox I-Frame, Main Concept and others.
B: be reliable
C: provide backup of your files.
We're a similar size shop (4 edits systems, 3 doing SD, 1 HD), and we spent well over 15k equipping a shared storage system (including backup and a new managed Gig-E switch and a few other things). We opted for the Apace vStor, since it's affordable, works exactly as advertised, and it requires no third-party SAN/NAS management software. It also works with every NLE systems out there, including yours. They help you with technical configuration, they spent hours installing our system via "Go to Meeting" over the phone, and the darn thing just works. It's been on now for 2 years and we've never had 1 second of down-time, zero crashes/lockups, and not a single instance of playback issues. The only "hint" of a problem we had was we couldn't capture uncompressed SD in one of the 4 suites. Turns out they didn't have jumbo frames enabled. Enabling it increases out read/write speeds by 15-20% and we were good to go on that.
You can forego the ethernet switch and hook most NAS based systems up directly to your edit stations ethernet card, but you need to have 2 cards in each workstation. One dedicated to connecting to the shared video storage, and a second that's dedicated to regular file sharing.
And I cannot emphasize the importance of backups. If you get a 4TB shared storage system (runs between $7500-$8500), you STILL need a high-performance ethernet based backup drive as well. We use the LaCie rack-mount ethernet drives and they too have been rock solid over two years with ZERO downtime or trouble. But a 4TB LaCie ethernet drive still runs at least $1800 or so.
Others on the list here can pipe in, but you do not want to skimp on your storage if video editing is how you make your money. It will burn you...and you'll spend more time troubleshooting and maintaining something you build than it's worth in terms of money saved.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Thank you so much for the detailed response. It sounds like I am better off just getting a file sharing network storage that every computer can access, but not edit from. I have 5 or 6 external drives that have various offline projects. Right now it is a real pain to find those projects if I need to bring something back online.
Another issue is that I can't really access all of my drives in my systems from our other edit bays. They show up on the network but not all drives are accesible.
I am open to any other suggestions for creating a centralized storage for video.
If your budget is limited, that would be your best compromise. I believe people call that near-line storage or something like that. What we do is backup all of our video, audio and project files every night using Second Copy (great, low-cost, easy to use backup software), so we basically have exact duplicates of our shared storage drives our rack-mount LaCie network drives.
They're actually fast enough to edit simple, short-form projects that don't have more than 2 or 3 video streams, so if we had a major crash, we could probably still get short form stuff out the door by rendering a project to this drive. It's definitely not fast or robust enough for everyday use though and it'll choke after playing about a minute of video even if it's just a stream or two.
You should really check out some of the companies that advertise here on the Cow, Maxx digital gets a lot of good feedback and Bob Zelin (forum moderator) is very high on them. But there are also companies out there like EditShare, Studio Network Solutions and others that sell turnk-key solutions. We just found that Apace was the most affordable and the most flexible in terms of how you can set a system up among the turn-key companies.
You can probably build something yourself that will work...but you'll spend a LOT of time, and if something DOESN'T work right or breaks down after you've got it working, guess who fixes it? That's right...YOU! So that's why it's worth it to pay more for a system that's proven. I believe all of Bob's DIY configurations are for Mac bases systems, but he may be able to give you some pointers on a Windows/CS4 based solution too.
Magnetic Image, Inc.