Tag Archives: Imagine Products

NAB: Imagine Products and StorageDNA enhance LTO and LTFS

By Jonathan S. Abrams

That’s right. We are still taking NAB. There was a lot to cover!

So, the first appointment I booked for NAB Show 2018, both in terms of my show schedule (10am Monday) and the vendors I was in contact with, was with StorageDNA’s Jeff Krueger, VP of worldwide sales. Weeks later, I found out that StorageDNA was collaborating with Imagine Products on myLTOdna, so I extended my appointment. Doug Hynes, senior director of business development for StorageDNA, and Michelle Maddox, marketing director of Imagine Products, joined me to discuss what they had ready for the show.

The introduction of LTFS during NAB 2010 allowed LTO tape to be accessed as if it was a hard drive. Since LTO tape is linear, executing multiple operations at once and treating it like a hard drive results in performance falling off of a cliff. It also could cause the drive to engage in shoeshining, or shuttling of the tape back-and-forth over the same section.

Imagine Products’ main screen.

Eight years later, these performance and operation issues have been addressed by StorageDNA’s creation of HyperTape, which is their enhanced Linear File Transfer System that is part of Imagine Products’ myLTOdna application. My first question was “Is HyperTape yet another tape format?” Fortunately for myself and other users, the answer is “No.”

What is HyperTape? It is a workflow powered by dnaLTFS. The word “enhanced” in the description of HyperTape as an enhanced Linear File Transfer System refers to a middleware in their myLTOdna application for Mac OS. There are three commands that can be executed to put an LTO drive into either read-only, write-only or training mode. Putting the LTO drive into an “only mode” allows it to achieve up to 300MB/s of throughput. This is where the Hyper in HyperTape comes from. These modes can also be engaged from the command line.

Training mode allows for analyzing the files stored on an LTO tape and then storing that information in a Random Access Database (RAD). The creation of the RAD can be automated using Imagine Products’ PrimeTranscoder. Otherwise, each file on the tape must be opened in order to train myLTOdna and create a RAD.

As for shoeshining, or shuttling of the tape back-and-forth over the same section, this is avoided by intelligently writing files to LTO tape. This intelligence is proprietary and is built into the back-end of the software. The result is that you can load a clip in Avid’s Media Composer, Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve or Adobe’s Premiere Pro and then load a subclip from that content into your project. You still should not load a clip from tape and just press play. Remember, this is LTO tape you are reading from.

The target customer for myLTOdna is a DIT with camera masters who wants to reduce how much time it takes to backup their footage. Previously, DITs would transfer the camera card’s contents to a hard drive using an application such as Imagine Products’ ShotPut Pro. Once the footage had been transferred to a hard drive, it could then be transferred to LTO tape. Using myLTOdna in read-only mode allows a DIT to bypass the hard drive and go straight from the camera card to an LTO tape. Because the target customer is already using ShotPut Pro, the UI for myLTOdna was designed to be comfortable and not difficult to use or understand.

The licensing for dnaLTFS is tied to the serial number of an LTO drive. StorageDNA’s Krueger explained that, “dnaLTFS is the drive license that works with stand alone mac LTO drives today.” Purchasing a license for dnaLTFS allows the user to later upgrade to StorageDNA’s DNAevolution M Series product if they need automation and scheduling features without having to purchase another drive license if the same LTO drive is used.

Krueger went on to say, “We will have (dnaLTFS) integrated into our DNAevolution product in the future.” DNAevolution’s cost of entry is $5,000. A single LTO drive license starts at $1,250. Licensing is perpetual, and updates are available without a support contract. myLTOdna, like ShotPut Pro and PrimeTranscoder, is a one-time purchase (perpetual license). It will phone home on first launch. Remote support is available for $250 per year.

I also envision myLTOdna being useful outside of the DIT market. Indeed, this was the thinking when the collaboration between Imagine Products and StorageDNA began. If you do not mind doing manual work and want to keep your costs low, myLTOdna is for you. If you later need automation and can budget for the efficiencies that you get with it, then DNAevolution is what you can upgrade to.


Jonathan S. Abrams is the Chief Technical Engineer at Nutmeg, a creative marketing, production and post resource, located in New York City.

My Passion Project: We Call Her Yolanda

By Anthony Bari Jr.

For the past couple years, I’ve been producing a documentary called We Call Her Yolanda. After volunteering on disaster relief in the Philippines in the aftermath of 2013’s super typhoon, I was taken with the people’s positivity and resiliency even though they had lost everything, including loved ones and livelihoods. I was inspired to go back and start filming a documentary, the shooting for which just wrapped.

While the rest of the world knew the devastating storm as Typhoon Haiyan, Filipinos had their own name for it — Super Typhoon Yolanda. As such, We Call Her Yolanda was an apt title for the film.

Production
For We Call Her Yolanda, we completed four shoots over two years on a mix of cameras and formats. We used two GoPro Hero4 Black cameras (one was mounted on a drone and the other was first-person view), two Canon C300s, a Sony FS7 and a Canon 5D Mark II. We always travelled with at least two laptops for transcoding and media management. We also carried G-Technology hard drives in our backpacks. I relied heavily on software presets for this project, setting up a bunch of them before we left for the Philippines so we could bag and tag all files during the trip.

Just one of Bari’s shooting setups.

For those who are still dragging and dropping hundreds of gigabytes of media from card to drive, beware. That method is wide open to error. ShotPut Pro, Imagine Products’ offloading app, is my go-to tool for safely offloading media. Computers and technology aren’t perfect, so offloading camera cards and making multiple backups is incredibly important. Version 6 has a new interface that looks just like the Finder window on my Mac.

The software’s checksumming capability verifies the integrity of every data transfer and raises a flag if things don’t add up. This feature is not only important for ensuring complete backups, but it also helps pinpoint problems with hardware or systems — and gives me the visual tools to explain the problems to clients.

Rather than just sticking a camera in people’s faces and asking them for their stories during the Yolanda shoots, we spent a lot of time getting to know people and making them comfortable with our team and the technology. Meanwhile, we shot lots of B-roll. Between the relationship building, the filming, the travel and other rigors of the shoot, it was a busy project that kept our whole team going nonstop — which meant I couldn’t always take care of media management myself like I would prefer.

Another critical tool in my data-wrangling workflow also happens to be from Imagine Products — ProxyMill transcoding software, which they recently revamped into PrimeTranscoder. I use this software’s presets a lot. By digging into the tools on the preset menu, flipping switches, or checking/unchecking boxes in the interface, I can program all sorts of functionality and even map certain functions to specific scenarios. For example, I can merge multiple interviews into a single low-res file and program the tool to apply timecode and/or a LUT file to it before sending to a producer or client for review. The fact that I can kick out a low-resolution, color corrected clip that has everything on it and send it off immediately is a big deal. I just dial it in, save it, and it’s ready to go.

Street view of San Joaquin.

The best part about this is that I don’t have to man the station the whole time. I’m ultimately responsible for the data, and I get very nervous when I don’t have control over it, but this workflow lets me delegate the media management duties when needed and trust that it will be done right, even by people with no post experience.

I like to work with native formats whenever possible, but sometimes you have to rely on proxies, especially when some of the footage is shot in data-heavy 4K. With this project, I used Imagine Products’ HD-VU2. This quality-check tool allowed me to preview footage in its native format after a shoot and decide which footage to pull. Then we’d apply ProxyMill to color correct it or add timecode as needed, and then transcode it into one massive ProRes clip using the clip-stitch feature. This capability came in handy when merging all interviews into one file for the translator and when selecting and stabilizing “best-of” drone footage to get it ready for editing later in Adobe Premiere.

Upon returning from the Philippines after each shoot, I made a strict practice of cloning the data from the portable drives onto multiple 4TB G-Technology desktop drives that are more suitable for editing. (We aim never to edit from the portable drives!) During the shoot, there were a handful of moments when we were literally sitting under a coconut tree with a long cable connected to a generator. That made for very unconventional (and nerve-wracking) media management, so I always go for gear with a dedicated power source whenever possible.

Post
Back in Los Angeles working on post for Yolanda, I turned my home into a post production studio. I worked with a carefully chosen team of eight pro editors who operated in rotation at my house, often late into the night. I supplied the food and drinks (you’ve got to keep up morale!), and they showed up and got to work. Some editors brought their own laptops, while others used my two spare MacBook Pros. All computers were equipped with Adobe Premiere CC.

The G-Technology desktop drives each contained the same set of footage, so whenever someone picked up a project, they simply ripped away at the footage from one of those drives. There were also two smaller G-Technology drives floating around with a total of about 600GB of extra footage (such as 4K drone footage) that people could select as needed. I used Basecamp to track the project and assign the work, and CalDigit Thunderbolt stations helped with connectivity.


Anthony Bari is a director/engineer/editor/post consultant. In addition to his freelance and consulting roles, he has worked on major sporting events, TV shows, reality shows and documentaries. He earned an Emmy Award as part of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on FS1 technical team.

 

Imagine Products intros PrimeTranscoder

Imagine Products, creator of software utilities for backing up, viewing, sharing, transcoding and archiving video assets, has released PrimeTranscoder, a video transcoding app for Mac users. PrimeTranscoder offers GPU acceleration and a simple interface.

PrimeTranscoder is a transcoding application that allows users to convert multiple files to different formats at once. It recognizes and converts more than 20 different HD, 4K and RAW camera formats, including Arri, Blackmagic, Canon, GoPro, Panasonic, Red, Sony and more. While that’s happening, it can also create editable or sharable files. By doing all those things simultaneously, the company says, PrimeTranscoder makes for a more efficient workflow.

PrimeTranscoder’s user interface — which Imagine Products has designed to look more like its other applications, such as PreRoll Post for LTFS archiving and ShotPut Pro for offloading — is simple to use and offers both standard and user-defined presets. PrimeTranscoder includes standard presets for ProRes 4444, H.264, PreRoll Post, ProRes 422, iPhone, and iPad. Users simply select the preset, drop the media into Prime, and hit start.

Meanwhile, users can define and save their own preset features, such as watermarking, color correction and burnt-in timecode, along with features for merging clips. It’s also possible to include audio in transcodes regardless of the source. Users can create watch folders with automatic transcoding ability, which makes it possible to offload camera cards via ShotPut Pro, transcode the files, and send them to the editor in one seamless workflow — all while Prime creates informational logs of output activities.

PrimeTranscoder is especially helpful for creating sharable H.264 clips with customers or creating edit-ready ProRes 4444 and ProRes 422 files for an editing system. The PreRoll Post preset makes it easy to create proxies in preparation for LTFS archiving to LTO tapes. PrimeTranscoder can also communicate with, and be used by, external applications.

PrimeTranscoder is available for immediate download. The cost is $699.

 

Bling Digital: proving the value of LTO data archiving

Bling Digital designs and manages digital workflows for film and television productions. They also provide digital lab services, edit systems and post services. Working with their parent company SIM Group, Bling has the ability to provide complete production packages — from the camera through final delivery — so they understand the importance of archiving. More on that later.

Bling provides services for film and television productions everywhere, and the company now has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York. Additionally, Bling has virtual teams around the world and last year worked on jobs in 21 different cities. Their reach is long.

Bling’s workflow supervisors and workflow producers have come to play a major role in decision-making regarding metadata and color management for their clients — with the aim of maximizing production efficiency. Bling typically has about 30 scripted, long-format jobs running at any given time, split between television shows and feature films, and the goal is to safeguard its post customers against surprise bills after they begin their work.

To help meet that goal in terms of data archiving, Bling uses PreRoll Post from Imagine Products for all master media in its LTO archives. PreRoll Post automatically indexes camera originals — complete with thumbs, proxies and metadata — while backing up full-resolution media to local disk and long-term LTO tapes, a Sony Optical Disc Archive, or a local disk or server. PreRoll Post uses an LTFS system, which mounts a tape as a volume (hard disk) within OS X or Windows. This makes it possible to write and read from the tape as if it were a disk, without proprietary software or formatting.

Bling made the transition to PreRoll Post after its clients began asking for LTFS tapes, which have since become the standard for all of the studios Bling works with.

Jesse Korosi

For one thing, PreRoll Post lets Bling scale up or down quickly, which is hugely important when dealing with as many as 30 jobs at any given time, each with its own unique requirements. For example, one production might travel to a new city every couple of days, which necessitates backups every day at every location. Another production might be managed from an office that is always connected to local storage, while yet another might be run out of one of Bling’s facilities off of a SAN or NAS.

“With the number of remote jobs we do and how quickly we have expanded, we needed software that was easy for new crews to learn,” explains Jesse Korosi, director of workflow services at Bling. “We have found that one of the biggest benefits of using PreRoll Post is how easily we can roll it out. When you’re talking about servicing 30 shows at a time, all in different cities or countries, we’re constantly hiring new, local crews, and knowing that they will be able to learn the software easily is a huge relief.”

Narcos
Bling provides dailies, LTO archival and edit systems on the Netflix television series Narcos. The show has an on-set data manager who backs up the master files from the Red Epic camera to three hard drives that are part of a backup system on the camera truck. One of those hard drives is a rotation drive that gets sent to the Bling lab at both break and wrap, depending on that day’s production locations.

Once Bling’s dailies tech receives the drive, he mounts it and backs up the files to two LTFS tapes simultaneously using PreRoll Post. One of these copies will eventually be sent to the studio and the other will be held in Los Angeles at the finishing facility. When writing to the LTO tapes is complete, the Bling technician notifies the camera crew that the files are secure. Then, using Imagine’s ShotPut Pro automated offloading application, the camera crew can wipe the camera cards and put them back into rotation.

“After all of the money the production company spends on crew, locations, props, wardrobe, cameras — all of the millions of dollars — eventually everything is left only on these tapes. So it is very, very important that we trust the software writing them without a shadow of a doubt,” says Korosi.

Imagine’s PreRoll Post for Windows makes back-ups using LTFS

Imagine Products is now offering PreRoll Post for Windows, targeting post and broadcast entities. PreRoll Post allows Windows users to create non-proprietary back-ups of any file or folder using the open-source Linear Tape File System (LTFS).

The archiving app streamlines the process of placing any file types onto an LTO-7, LTO-6 or LTO-5 tape or onto Sony’s Optical Disc Archive (ODA) affordably. PreRoll Post for Windows is available for immediate download from www.imagineproducts.com for $499.

PreRoll Post relies on checksum technology to ensure the files on tape exactly match the originals. By storing the checksum values for each file, PreRoll Post also verifies files during restoration back to hard disk whenever they’re retrieved. This process provides confidence that all copies of files match the originals.

Within the PreRoll Post application, the LTFS mounts a tape as a volume (like a hard disk) within Explorer, making it possible to write to and read from the tape as if it were a disk, without other proprietary software or formatting.

PreRoll Post also makes it easy to search for and retrieve previously backed-up files. Drag-and-drop functionality for both archiving and retrieval allows users to drill down into folders on mounted or unmounted tapes/cartridges to locate the files or folders they seek — eliminating the need to insert and search each tape individually until the correct file or folder is found. Instead, once they determine which tape or cartridge holds the file or folder they’re after, users can simply insert that tape or cartridge and pull what they need.

“Most people keep ‘archives’ on hard drives, which become less and less reliable the longer they sit on the shelf. PreRoll Post mitigates that problem by ensuring you can back up full-resolution media to local disk and to a long-term tape or cartridge in an easy and almost foolproof way, so archives are made correctly the first time,” explains Michelle Maddox, marketing director at Imagine Products.

For content creators or post houses that create LTO deliverables for Discovery Channel, PreRoll Post offers a Discovery Channel mode to make sure the LTO tapes meet the network’s specifications for field, graphics or program masters. In this mode, PreRoll Post automatically places files in the proper locations on the tape to meet Discovery Channel specs.

PreRoll Post is hardware-independent, meaning that it is compatible with any LTFS-compliant tape drive, including MagStor, mTape, UNITEX LT60 with USB 3.0, 1 Beyond, or any desktop-connected LTO drive, as well as Sony’s ODA.

NAB: Media archives drive storage innovation

By Tom Coughlin

Higher resolution, frame rate, pixel depth and the number of cameras for pro video projects is increasing the storage capacity requirements for professional media. The growing size of new projects, combined with the vast collection of media and entertainment content already in archives will drive the size of media archives.

In addition, the desire for ready access to this content to support reuse and other purposes increases the need for faster more active archives. The 2014 Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment Report from my own Coughlin Associates estimates that over 96% of all digital storage in the media and entertainment industry is used in archiving and preservation.

The 2015 NAB show was a showcase for many digital media archive solutions. Magnetic tape is a big player in the traditional media archive market. The most popular tape format in media and entertainment is the LTO tape. The LTO Consortium says that tape storage costs are now less than $0.008 per GB ($8/TB). The LTFS file system used in LTO and other tapes is now supported by SNIA standards. Magnetic tape is now being used in object storage environments and Swift now supports LTFS. The group says that they have seen roughly a 6% growth in magnetic tape in the media and entertainment market.

Fujifilm had a booth with Crossroads Systems where they were showing the Dternity tape-based cloud storage system with the Crossroads Strongbox product. Oracle and IBM were also showing their tape based storage systems that they are targeting for media and entertainment (IBM currently offers up to 10TB of capacity on a half-inch tape cartridge). Several companies were showing the USB interface tape drive made by IBM in their NAB booths. Several companies were showing the USB interface tape drive made by IBM in their NAB booths. mLogic was showing a Thunderbolt LTO tape drive.

ProMax acquired Cache-A in July of 2014, At the 2015 NAB show the company released a significant update to its archiving appliance lineup. The Pro-Cache and Power-Cache products have been redesigned from the ground up to improve the speed and reliability of archiving to LTO tape. The Pro-Cache’s expanded network connectivity includes 4 x 1GbE network controllers accompanied by a 10GbE network performance boost that makes it up to 2x faster than previous systems. The Power-Cache (our main photo) onboard RAID is now up to 16TB with room for an optional onboard LTO-6 or LTO-5 drive.

ProMAX Pro-Cache and Power-Cache copy

Spectra Logic announced updates and enhancements to their BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway. The newly enhanced Spectra Logic BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway sits in front of deep storage tape libraries and allows users to move data anywhere within their network using simple HTTP commands. An interesting feature of the BlackPearl hardware is that they use flash memory for caching write and read information to a magnetic tape library. Because of the very fast data rates for mounted tapes flash memory avoids dropping of data or needing to rerun tapes to complete data transfers. Spectra Logic also announced that they were providing an archive tier to private clouds running on the NetApp StorageGrid using the BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway.

Sony has been driving cartridge archive system using 12 Blu-ray write-once optical media in their Optical Disc Archive (ODA). These cartridges are scheduled for a significant increase in capacity in 2015 with the planned introduction of 300GB 5.25-inch optical write-one archive discs. In addition to the Sony booth companies such as XenData and Qualstar were showing both disc and tape archive libraries in their booth. MassTech also announced support for Sony’s ODA by their asset management system. There is a significant segment of the media and entertainment market that prefers optical discs for cold archiving rather magnetic tape.

backup progress with proxies copy PRP Back Up Screen Shot

Imagine Products and Sony have created a new ODA archiving solution for Mac users. The company’s PreRoll Post LTFS archiving application (pictured above) creates thumbs, proxies and rich metadata while backing up files and folders to multiple locations at once. It also uses checksum technology to ensure that the files and folders are copied accurately. Users simply drag and drop files and folders into the queue for copying to the disc.

Software to support backup also has an important role in M&E. SGL was showing a full archive demonstration with Grass Valley. The company was also launching an Asset Migration Service (FlashNet Migration Service) to move assets between one tape platform or generation to another. They were also showing partial file restore via Avid Web Services.

For more active archives there were several HDD systems geared to active archiving on display at the NAB. HGST (a division of Western Digital) was showing their HDD-based Active Archive System. This was HGST’s first foray into large storage system design and it was leveraging its internal drive costs to offer a cost effective object based storage system cheaper than many white-box solutions. HGST’s Active Archive System is an object storage system that delivers 4.7 petabytes (PB) of raw data storage in a single rack. The company says this product will provide long term retention of media data with fast access when needed.

Dr. Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, is a storage analyst and consultant with over 30 years in the data storage industry. He has six patents to his credit and is the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide. He also helps put together the Storage Visions Conference. You can we reach him at tom@tomcoughlin.com.

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