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Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro

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Keith Moreau
Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 18, 2012 at 4:59:03 pm

I'm hoping I'm posting in the correct forum, it was either here or in the hardware forum.

I'm going to be taking the plunge and getting a fairly high end PC to augment my aging Mac Pro for Premiere Pro CS 5.5 (and probably CS 6 as soon as the kinks are worked out). Right now my online media resides on several fast eSATA RAID 5 drives, plugged into my Mac Pro through some eSATA PCI cards. It works well and I have pretty good bandwidth, from 200MBS to 250MBS using this method, I think enough speed for the type of media I use in my edits, a combination of XDCAM EX, AVCHD, Canon H.264 with perhaps 4-5 streams at once in Multicam edits.

Adding my PC to the mix will complicate things. I want to be able to access the media on my eSATA drives, which are currently formatted for Mac, using the HFS+ file system. I have heard the Mac Drive can make Windows read this filesystem well.

The issue is sharing this media on the drives fast enough for both systems to be able to edit / access them simultaneously. I do have Gigabit ethernet, but I don't think that would be fast enough, I think practically it tops out around 70MB /second. I probably need more speed.

Also the Mac can share as SMB, but the current Mac OS 10.7 doesn't seem to share SMB all that well but I have to test it with Windows. I know for my various media player boxes it doesn't work very well or at all at this point accessing my Mac 10.7 system via SMB. In addition, SMB seems to be a really slow networking protocol. I can share via AFP or NFS, and I think NFS has the speed necesary, not sure if Windows out of the box can deal with that protocol.

I know there is such a thing as 'fiber channel' and other tech to essentially create a fast network, the Mac can also network over Firewire, but I don't think that will be fast enough either. I suppose I could see if there is a faster than Gigabit ethernet protocol using Cat 6 or whatever is the latest type of ethernet cable. I'm trying to do a shortcut here and see if the vast number of people out there have done this and what they think works best.

Thanks for any and all advice here.

Regards,

-Keith


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Ryan Patch
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:11:09 pm

Cat5 1gb is really surprisingly fast. I would look into this first, just because all other options are exponentially more expensive and difficult to run. Fiber Channel gets very expensive and difficult to run. There's a shared media storage forum here at COW, try poking around there.

Ryan


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Keith Moreau
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:32:38 pm

Thanks, that's good to know. I already have a Gigabit ethernet network so hopefully this will suffice. I've done some tests and it tops out at around 70MB/second. I have not gotten my PC yet to test but I'll report back my findings here or on the other forum.


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Chris Paul
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 19, 2012 at 10:43:39 pm

I read a while back that Walter Biscardi used Ethernet for his suites, at least for a while. As I recall the key was to turn on something called "fat bits".

Chris Paul
POV


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Walter Soyka
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:30:30 pm

[Chris Paul] "I read a while back that Walter Biscardi used Ethernet for his suites, at least for a while. As I recall the key was to turn on something called "fat bits"."

It's jumbo frames, but I like "fat bits" way better.

There are a bunch of Ethernet-based file sharing systems that will work for editorial, and as the other posters have mentioned, 70 MB/s is usually enough, especially for highly-compressed media.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Alex Udell
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 19, 2012 at 4:04:10 pm

I'd take a look and see how much overhead you are using in real time in one of your more complicated edits now.

Utilizing all these compressed formats really puts the stress on the cpu and not so much on the drives or the networking...


Ethernet may work out just fine.

Alex


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Keith Moreau
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 19, 2012 at 10:52:03 pm

Yeah, I think it's called "Jumbo Packets" and it sounds great if it works, I'll let you all know.


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 21, 2012 at 3:14:25 pm

The term you're looking for is "Jumbo Frames." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumbo_frame)

Now, here's an additional suggestion to take the GbE discussion up in bandwidth. I fully agree, that with the increase in compressed footage acquisition, GbE (single links) are more than adequate for lots of editing requirements these days, especially when coupled with PrPro's excellent native playback capabilities.

But you can increase speeds further, especially if you intend to keep the files on the Mac Pro and use the storage across multiple-clients. Now, I'm going to ignore file system issues and only talk about network infrastructure here.

The Mac Pro has two GbE ports and they can be aggregated to create a 2Gb link provided your switch also supports LACP. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_aggregation)

Until 10GBase T (10Gig over copper) becomes more affordable, LACP is a pretty effective way to increase bandwidth using existing Cat5e LAN infrastructure and GbE hardware, especially on shared storage sources like a Mac Pro (we do the same - though our infrastructure is all Mac at the moment.)

We use a setup like this from one Mac Pro with a large storage array to another Mac Pro and an iMac without speed issues. Currently all the machines use local media caches and preview/render locations to keep that traffic off the network.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Keith Moreau
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 21, 2012 at 3:19:42 pm

Thanks Petros, that's awesome. Is there software or hardware that you use in particular?


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 21, 2012 at 4:11:56 pm

I am going to make a very quick "Link Aggregation for Mac Pros" Howto an post a link to that here.

But to directly answer your question...

Here's what you need:
- LACP-capable GbE Switch
- 2 Cat 5e or Cat 6 cables to connect to the switch

That's it! OS X has had link aggregation capabilities for a while and it's a very simple affair as you'll see in a few minutes!

Regarding the switch we're using, it's a basic 24-port managed GbE switch, purchased about 5 years ago because it was pretty cheap and although it sounds like a hairdryer (it's in a server closet) it's been trouble-free - not requiring a single reboot.

We've since upgraded all other switches to HP ProCurve as they have a lifetime warranty and if I had to buy one today that was a basic, managed switch I'd pick this one up: http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/HP-V1810-24G-Switch-Smart-Buy/1837433.aspx - I still can't believe HP offers lifetime warranties on networking equipment!

I'll post a quick video in a few hours.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Ed Murphy
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Dec 6, 2012 at 5:10:46 pm

Hey Petros,

Thanks for your contributions. I wonder if you can speek to my recent experience with link aggregation and managed switches in a Mac environment? I tested and found what I think is strange behavior...

For a few years our setup has consisted of two Netgear GS108T "smart" switches, two Qnap NAS RAIDs for our media library, four MacPros, and two iMacs. The Qnap NASs are each connected to the switches with LACP link aggregation over two ports each.

Now, I've recently found poor network performance on those computers connected via the second switch which I assume is due to the bottleneck of only being uplinked to the first switch via one GbE port. I would like to resolve that, expand network capacity, and setup link aggregation on the four MacPros as you have described, by upgrading our switches. I'm looking at the HP ProCurve you mentioned as well as other Netgear and Cisco options.

However, I wanted to determine what kind of performance boost I could expect before purchasing, so I set up my MacPro with link aggregation and just did a few simple file transfer tests. I believe the results to be strange and I was hoping you might have some thoughts.

Both tests involved copying a 7.14GB file from the Qnap RAID to a local drive and back again. The results were the same in each direction.

Test 1: MacPro connected via single GbE port 5, Qnap connected via aggregated ports 1 and 2. (Current setup.)
Transfer rate in activity monitor peaked and sustained approx 80MB/sec, transfer took 1:41 time.

Test 2: MacPro connected via aggregated ports 3 and 4, Qnap connected via aggregated ports 1 and 2.
Transfer rate in activity monitor peaked around 200MB/sec and sustained approx 160MB/sec, transfer took 1:41 time.

So, while there appeared to be about double the network traffic from one case to the other, the transfer took just as long in both setups! I repeated this several times. How could that be?
Do you have any idea what might be going on?
Should I expect different results with a newer switch, like the HP for example?

Any insights are appreciated.

Ed Murphy
Senior Editor / Technical Director
David Lynch Foundation Television


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Dec 6, 2012 at 7:07:05 pm

Perhaps I was a little misleading (not intentionally sorry!) in my aggregation howto/info.

Aggregation will not double your point to point bandwidth. IE you wont be able to start receiving data at 2Gbps. It should increase your point to multi-point bandwidth. Think of it a bit like train tracks with each connected station being a train. You can't have one train occupy both tracks at once, but you can send two trains at the same time.

That is to say that you can send more data out to two stations at once, not 2Gbps to a single station. Activity monitor will report twice the data going out on an aggregate link in a station-to-station test but that's just because it's sending copies of the data over both ports.

There's also the control protocol overhead and other bottlenecks to think of, but you're right in wondering what you're seeing, the tools can provide what are seemingly impossible results at a glance and performance is never really doubled in practice - just increased over the single-port option.

And in our case, all of the hardware was already in place (Mac Pros with their two ports, and a 3com switch with LACP support).

Our setup here has one primary station sending out to three other edit stations, all on GbE. It's certainly still a low-cost solution to a performance problem better solved by having the primary station on a 10GbE uplink, but, like others we can't afford that yet. At the same time I don't think investing in new GbE tech is wise unless it's absolutely mandatory as 10GbE will and is, becoming more affordable all the time.

You might find some increase in performance by making sure you're using Jumbo frames but it will be modest (even minor) at best. I don't think a newer switch will make a difference though I could be wrong - switches have internal throughput limits based on their own processor and design and it would depend how good (or bad) your current switch is, but one or two connections shouldn't push the limits of even the lowliest switch.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Ed Murphy
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Dec 6, 2012 at 8:05:29 pm

Thank you for the detailed response, Petros.

That all makes sense, and yes I forgot to mention I use jumbo frames wherever possible. It makes very little difference if at all, but I like to have it on in principle.

I'm sure we're going to upgrade to a new switch anyways, at least to solve the bottleneck I have over the 1GbE uplink from one 8 port Netgear to the other, and also to allow us more ports in general.

Do you think it would be pointless to aggregate links on the four MacPros once it is easy for us to do so with the new switch because of the train analogy you described? It sounds like it would possibly help in situations where one workstation was sending or receiving data to multiple NASs or other workstations in terms of a file transfer or similar. Is it also possible though, that the OS/network/NLE (PPro in this case) would be smart enough to use those multiple tracks when working with multiple sets of media? Perhaps only when that media is in different locations? (Stations.)

Also, you said "Our setup here has one primary station sending out to three other edit stations, all on GbE. It's certainly still a low-cost solution to a performance problem better solved by having the primary station on a 10GbE uplink"
Does this imply I could uplink via 10GbE to one of my NASs to at least improve performance to/from that node? I thought uplinks were only meant for other switches.
What I imagine asking that question:
Our largest NAS is the Qnap 879 Pro, which has the option to install a 10GbE NIC for about $300. I was looking at these 24 port HP switches: http://www1.hp.com/us/en/products/switches/HP_1810_Switch_Series/index.aspx'>http://h17007.http://www1.hp.com/us/en/products/switches/HP_1810_Switch_Series/index.aspx however those don't appear to have 10GbE uplink options. If I were to instead go with one that does appear to, such as the Cisco 2960-S line http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/switches/ps5718/ps6406/product_d... could I theoretically uplink via 10GbE to our 879 Pro for greater performance of at least that media storage to the rest of the network?

Thank you again for your thoughts.

Ed Murphy
Senior Editor / Technical Director
David Lynch Foundation Television


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 21, 2012 at 9:24:52 pm

And here it is: http://slrdwrds.shiftfocus.ca/2012/06/21/link-aggregation-on-a-mac-pro-os-x...

I didn't have a ton of time today but I did my best!

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Keith Moreau
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 21, 2012 at 10:12:47 pm

Petros, that is so awesome, thanks for doing it. I imagine something like this also exists for Windows PCs, I need to get a managed switch, as I have a large 'unmanaged' one, but the fewer port ones are cheap, I just need 4-8 ports for the current use.

Thanks so much!!!!

-Keith


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:21:34 am

I have Windows 7 virtualized on a number of our machines. I'll see if I can't do something similar tomorrow. Either way, the same is absolutely possible.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Petros Kolyvas
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jun 22, 2012 at 2:29:23 pm

So I've probably led your question way off the mark, but I have to take one on the chin here regarding Windows.

Link Aggregation is only supported in Windows 7 by drivers of appropriate hardware. Windows 7 itself doesn't support Link Aggregation out of the box. As we don't have actual Windows hardware here I can't run through the process, although it's as simple as the OS X one, provided the NIC supports Aggregation or "Teaming." (See here: http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/network-interface-card-nic/q-how-do-i-c...

Another thing I think I wasn't clear on is that our setup has one Mac Pro serving three edit stations. I believe Link Aggregation is best used in small shops where each client machine (irrespective of OS) is running a 1Gb/sec link and the "server" can serve each of them at near top-speed. Because GbE is cheap, you can add and aggregate a 4-port card for about $750 and serve multiple clients without saturating a single 1GbE link.

Of course, none of this deals with sharing between Mac and Windows - but it's something I'm interested in as well since the future still looks uncertain for professional-level Mac hardware in the near-term and coupled with the fact our CS6 licenses are platform agnostic we could move in a heartbeat if we had to.

--
There is no intuitive interface, not even the nipple. It's all learned. - Bruce Ediger


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Keith Moreau
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:24:26 pm

I got some of the hardware, an 8 port managed switch, an extra Sonnet PCI-E card for my PC which supposedly supports link aggregation and somehow passes that onto the built in Ethernet (which I have serious doubts - in PC land this stuff is very arcane and iffy I have found) and am about to try the link aggregation, thanks again for all the great help.

The next problem has to do with sharing the same project files over the network between Mac and PC. If I take a project, for example created on Mac PPro, then open it in Windows over a SMB share, Premiere Pro doesn't seem to have any clue where the files are and asks me to locate every one. In addition Premiere Pro doesn't give me a clue about the original path, it just tells me 00000.MTS could not be located I happen to use AVCHD a lot and therefore there are multiple 00000.MTS files throughout my project.

Is there some utility on Windows that allows me to 'fool' Windows into knowing about the Mac paths that are stored in Premiere Pro, some type of mapping or configuration file in windows where I can say, for example "5500_GB_EXT_2" == "Z:Mac-Pro5500_GB_EXT2" Since on my Windows I have fixed drive mapping to my Mac's shared drives over the network, this would be a one time setting. If not I can't bear to have to spend hours relinking every time I use the same project, created on Mac, on Windows.

Thanks for any advice!


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Matt Trubac
Re: Strategy for Sharing Media Between Mac and Windows Premiere Pro
on Oct 5, 2012 at 12:29:12 pm

Did you have any success with this? I'm considering doing the same. Which 8 port managed switch did you get? Would you recommend it? Thanks!


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