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Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE

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Jason Whetstone
Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 21, 2009 at 4:52:43 pm

Greetings!

My video production department will be integrating a 12TB Maxx Digital EVO into our workflow. We use 6 FCP workstations, two Pro Tools LE workstations, and 2-3 After Effects workstations.

I'm the Audio Specialist at JPL, and my primary concern is with Pro Tools. I would like to use this storage solution for Pro Tools as well, but Pro Tools is extremely controlling with its drives. Trial has shown that Pro Tools will not allow record or playback of any sessions over networked drives - the OS has to see the drive as a suitable locally-attached storage volume (USB drives aren't even acceptable, even though they are locally-attached). Research into the subject has suggested that iSCSI and ATA-over-Ethernet definitely work. I'm wondering if anyone knows if either of these can be integrated into the Maxx Digital solution... I'm almost wondering if there's an application that can be run on the SAN server that will handle the AoE or iSCSI side of things. I have searched a lot, all over the place. Anyone have any solutions for me, or could point me in the right direction?

Thanks!


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Ron Amborn
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 22, 2009 at 3:41:20 am

Hello Jason,
Please contact me privately to discus your options.I have a ProTools specialist standing by.


Sincerely,
Ron Amborn President
Maxx Entertainment Digital
21562 Newland Street
Huntington Beach , Ca 92646
Direct 714-374-4944
Cell 714-713-4492 Fax 714-374-3404
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com


Sincerely,
Ron Amborn President
Maxx Entertainment Digital
21562 Newland Street
Huntington Beach , Ca 92646
Direct 714-374-4944
Cell 714-713-4492 Fax 714-374-3404
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com




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Bob Zelin
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 24, 2009 at 3:53:51 pm

Hi Jason -
the SAN you will be getting will be based on simple Apple File Sharing using AFP. This will work with your 6 FCP stations, and Adobe based MAC graphics stations.

As for your Pro Tools, I have never done it, but the people we work with have done it, so there "should" be no issue. But you have come to the right place. I will be speaking to Bill at your company
on Monday (if he is in)or on Tuesday.

Bob Zelin




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Bob Zelin
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 25, 2009 at 1:07:34 pm

Before you start crying and complaining, take a look at this current
AVID/Digidesign document on Pro Tools, and the super hi end AVID Unity ISIS shared storage system - look at the chart under MAC OS-X platform.

http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?langid=1&navid=54&itemid=28253

Bob Zelin



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Bob Zelin
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 26, 2009 at 4:10:20 pm

Jason -
this is the answer. We are in the same boat as AVID Unity ISIS.
For Final Share to work with Pro Tools on the Mac Platform, we must do the "push pull", just like Digidesign is doing with AVID Unity ISIS. This is not slick like Studio Network Solutions that is using iSCSI. We are using Apple AFP, so you will have to drag your files from Pro Tools local storage onto the shared volume, and vice versa, when you want to work on a project. Your Pro Tools project will NOT play live over the shared volume, like an iSCSI system will.

Bob Zelin




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Ron Amborn
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 26, 2009 at 4:35:44 pm

Jason,
Please contact the office directly and ask about Maxx Digitals full line of ISCSI and Fiber products. We are currently supporting several large Protools rigs .

Sincerely,
Ron Amborn President
Maxx Entertainment Digital
21562 Newland Street
Huntington Beach , Ca 92646
Direct 714-374-4944
Cell 714-713-4492 Fax 714-374-3404
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com



Sincerely,
Ron Amborn President
Maxx Entertainment Digital
21562 Newland Street
Huntington Beach , Ca 92646
Direct 714-374-4944
Cell 714-713-4492 Fax 714-374-3404
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com




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Jason Whetstone
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 26, 2009 at 5:13:24 pm

Thanks Bob.

On Friday I spoke with Rob, who connected me with a Pro Tools guru (Brad? Forgive me if I'm wrong on the name). He was extremely helpful and said that the best solution for Pro Tools is to go iSCSI or AoE. But those solutions are separate from AFP file sharing; they cannot co-exist on the same storage media. Final Share via AFP, iSCSI, AoE. Pick one and stick with it.

The "push pull" thing is as you said, the only way to go with our Final Share. I don't want to do manual copying to the server. That's clunky, and leaves problems with version control. If I was the only one using it, I would not worry. But if that were the case, I wouldn't need shared storage, now, would I? ;-)

Still there is hope. The process can be automated! What we'll probably do is to use a program called "Synchronize Pro X" (http://www.qdea.com). It's only $100. The name basically says it all. Work on a local drive and the program synchronizes your work drive with a folder or partition somewhere else (Final Share). Set up properly, Synchronize Pro can mirror several systems' local work areas to one networked directory, creating the illusion of shared storage. Or, the machines can sync to each other independently of a SAN through AFP. The demo of this program only works up to 10 MB, but downloading it and installing it on both machines was enough to convince me that this is the best (and cheapest) solution. It can do an immediate synchronization after Pro Tools is done with a record pass, or a sync at any time on a recurring basis. After the sync, you have a backup of your work, since it lives in two (or more) places. Synchronize Pro will even archive files that are removed from a mirror (for instance, I manually delete something from my local drive, which mirrors to the Final Share, but the files can be archived during the sync and not permanently deleted). So, it can be a backup/archive solution as well, while at the same time giving me and other Pro Tools engineers the "illusion" of shared storage. Looks like this could work.

We've got to develop some workflows. I will keep the forum up to date on how this works.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 26, 2009 at 7:47:48 pm

Jason -
this is great news. I was unaware of Synchronize Pro X, and as you are aware, iSCSI will NOT work with Maxx Digital Final Share. I will look at their website right now. Thanks for the info !

Bob Zelin




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Bob Zelin
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 26, 2009 at 9:54:44 pm

this is a great idea. I just went to the Qdea website. You will create a simple folder on the Final Share drive. The Final Share drive will appear to ALL systems as a simple single mounted hard drive, so to the pro tools guy, it's just another drive. But Synchronize ProX will keep writing backup files from your local storage to this "shared folder".

If this becomes a pain, using the master drive, we can setup additional drives (even a simple FW800 drive)on the Final Share server to become this drive. Because we use simple Apple File sharing, we can just pop on another drive, go into the SHARING menu, assign it as a shared volume, assign the users (the pro tools guys), and you are done. A dedicated drive for you, that can be read by all the video editors if you like. Or it can remain a dedicated shared volume just for the Pro Tools guys.

You deserve a cookie for finding Synchronize Pro X !

BobZelin




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Jason Whetstone
Re: Integration with Pro Tools via iSCSI or AoE
on May 27, 2009 at 2:49:19 pm

LOL. Thanks Bob. I do love cookies, but I'm not the one who deserves it for finding Synchronize Pro. The Pro Tools guy (Brad? again, sorry if that's incorrect, I'm horrible with names) that Rob connected me with last Friday is the one who told me about it.

It works very well... there are a few quirks, but it's extremely robust and will definitely work. The only thing that doesn't work 100% is "Sync when changes are made in folder:" when the folder is on a network volume. Since the system isn't continually monitoring the network directory for changes, it doesn't always see them right away. It was only a problem when I tried to open a session in Audio 1, save it, and then try to open the same session in Audio 2 only moments later. Audio 2 hadn't seen the change on the network volume yet and thus had not synced. This could potentially be a problem when "switching suites" which we have to do occasionally. One of our audio suites is larger than the other, and occasionally one of us has to boot the other to the smaller one if we need the room. In these situations we'd probably have to do a manual sync, which isn't a big deal. Also, I'm sure AppleScript could be used to get around this. I'm becoming very good at it... I've written several AppleScripts that have saved myself and our video editors quite a bit of time and have streamlined and organized our work.


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