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Swiss national television network Radio Télévision Suisse handles 800 hours of on-air content each year in its Post Production department, with FCP X and a ShareStation Enterprise shared storage system. Ronny Courtens explains why RTS chose FCP X, the shared storage system and how the combination of speed and performance is perfect for their needs. Lots of info, lots of pictures and lots of videos, so get a large coffee and enjoy. Worth an email to anybody who thinks FCP X is not a professional tool as well!

 

Last year we had the privilege of working together with the wonderful people at Swiss national television, optimizing the workflows and the shared storage system for their Post Production department. It has been a great experience dealing with the highly experienced Swiss managers, editors and engineers, who have the rightful reputation of not believing anything until they have seen it. It also was our first and very successful collaboration with Sam Mestman and Eric Altman from LumaForge.

This article will take you behind the scenes of a national broadcast network. You will see how FCP X integrates within complex media structures and you will hear what broadcast professionals think of Final Cut Pro as a high-end post production tool today. We also hope this story will finally do away with any remaining misconceptions about Apple’s commitment to FCP X and to the professional world.

Finally we will shed some light on the dark world of shared storage, which should be interesting for anyone who is looking into any kind of collaboration system for FCP X at this moment. I hope you will enjoy the read!

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The RTS tower, overlooking the beautiful city of Genève.

 

Radio Télévision Suisse is part of SSR, the largest media corporation in Switzerland. SSR employs 6.000 people and it has a yearly budget of 1.6 billion dollars.

The corporation runs 17 radio stations in 4 languages, 7 television stations in 3 languages and a large network of web-based media channels. RTS serves the French-speaking audience of SSR with 2 national television stations, 4 radio stations, a multimedia website with different platforms, and 8 mobile applications.

RTS also delivers programs to TV5 Monde, a global television network that broadcasts several channels of French language programming. The television and multimedia division of RTS employs 1.200 people in Geneva, and is located in the impressive RTS Tower.

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One of the studios on the ground floor of the tower.

 


RTS FCPco FCPX 04Daniel Bertusi, Head of Post Production at RTS:

The Post Production department handles all the general programs for our television and multimedia channels, and we also re-edit the programs that are sent to TV5 worldwide.

For some programs we receive pre-cut items from our editing department, to which we add the finishing touches: online assembly, graphics, titles, intros, final audio mix, technical quality check and final mastering. Other programs are edited and finished from scratch in Post Production.

We are also responsible for the final editing and finishing of all the multicam shows that are recorded in our studios (game shows, music shows, talkshows, studio magazines…), or on the road in our outside broadcast vans (theatrical productions, events, festivals…).

This means we need to handle many different programs and formats, create complex graphics and intros and edit long and heavy multicam projects with multichannel audio. As we always work against deadlines, we need to be able to work fast and precise with native media and we need to be able to export our final masters without losing any time.

So we need an online tool that can handle all of this, and FCP X works perfectly for us. There is always room for improvement but it’s an excellent editing and finishing tool for broadcast, and it gets better all the time.

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The editing rooms at RTS Post Production. Comfortable, insulated spaces with ergonomic editing desks and chairs, high quality audio monitoring, calibrated broadcast video monitors, external loudness meters and vectorscope/waveform monitors, and a viewing corner with a dedicated television monitor and separate audio monitors for directors and producers.

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Daniel: RTS has very high quality standards and every program goes on-air straight from the post production rooms. So we are responsible for the final quality and we need to make sure that our people have reliable tools to ensure that the programs they deliver comply with our broadcast specifications.

Each room has a 2012 MacPro running Mavericks with Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3 on two high-resolution computer displays. We haven’t updated to El Capitan and FCP X 10.2 yet for various reasons, the most important one being that our old X-SAN could not be updated anymore and we were stuck at running Mavericks on our client machines. Things have changed now, since we have our new shared storage system. So we will be updating to the latest OS and FCP X versions soon, and we will get a bunch of maxed out new MacPros as soon as the MacPro gets updated again.

Every MacPro has a Blackmagic video card inside that drives a calibrated Panasonic 26” broadcast monitor for the editor and a commercial Panasonic tv for the viewing corner. Both the editor desk and the viewing corner have active Yamaha speakers for audio playback. As the video/audio delays for the HS SDI broadcast monitors and the HDMI tv are not the same, we have installed a Yamaha DME24N to compensate for this.

The displays on the edit desk are fixed on articulated arms so they can be adjusted to everyone’s preference. We also provide a Wacom tablet in every room.

Finally, each room has a dedicated RTW loudness meter and a Tektronix hardware Vectorscope/waveform monitor. These are used for reliable realtime audio and video monitoring, and for final quality check of the masters before they go on-air.

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Panasonic broadcast monitor, RTW loudness meter and Tektronix vectorscope/waveform monitor.

 

Our playout systems require 1080i25 MXF, which is the HD broadcast standard in Europe. So we always create MXF final delivery masters from our FCP X Projects, on which we do a full technical compliance check before sending them to the playout servers. For the quality check we have two methods:

  • If the Project audio is only a Stereo Pair we export the MXF master file straight from our FCP X timeline, we import the MXF file in FCP X and we check the file on our external control hardware while playing it in FCP X.
  • If the Project has multiple audio channels we create a multichannel ProRes 422 master file based on Roles, and we check the ProRes master file in FCP X while we do a conversion of the ProRes file to MXF in Compressor. We have noticed that there is never any difference between the ProRes master file and the MXF coming from Compressor. If the ProRes file passes QC, we don’t need to check the MXF anymore and we can send it straight to playout. This saves a lot of time.

When did you start using Final Cut Pro X? 

Daniel: Coming from Avid, we had been working with Final Cut Pro 6 and 7. When FCP was announced EOL we started looking at different other options, none of which could really excite us. Then one of our freelance editors, Patrice Freymond, did a demo of FCP X. It was clear to me from the start that this tool would be the best match for the work we do in Post Production, and that it would offer the easiest transition from the old Final Cut Pro.

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RTS FCPco FCPX 09Our good friend Patrice Freymond started at RTS 36 years ago, in 1980. He learned his basic editing skills there, on 2-inch tape. He left RTS after a few years to start his freelance career. He has worked in many different countries on many different kinds of programs: from opera shows and fictional series, to tv features and the Olympic Games.

Patrice has received two Prime Time Emmy nominations for outstanding picture editing. He still works regularly at RTS as a freelance editor, and he is a certified FCP X trainer.

 

 

How did you get familiar with FCP X?

Patrice: My first NLE was an EMC, then I moved to Avid and later to Final Cut Pro. When FCP X was presented to the world, I was very impressed. But when I first opened it, I guess I hit the same wall that everybody did and it took me 3 days to overcome my initial anger (laughs). But my frustration disappeared pretty quickly and the more I started using it, the more I had these moments where things were really making sense.

It’s not perfect, none of them are, but there are tons of things I love about FCP X. Although I still work on Avid occasionally, FCP X has become my NLE of choice.

When classic FCP went EOL the Post Production department at RTS had the choice of going back to Avid, which was a prospect that no-one here was truly excited about, or we could adopt Final Cut Pro X. Premiere was out of the picture for various reasons.

I was already teaching FCP X and I showed a demo to Daniel with version 10.0.3, which was pre-multicam. Daniel immediately liked what he saw. But moving to FCP X was out of the question for us if it didn’t do multicam. So we said: Apple seems to be working very hard on this, let’s wait a little bit and see how it evolves. Final Cut 7 still worked quite well for us, and we could go on working with it for a little while.

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So we basically waited for FCP X to catch up with our needs. This was sort of easy to do because at RTS, just like at most large operations, they don’t change equipment that often and they never chase for the latest updates. They are constantly producing programs, so the only two times in a year where you can change hardware, software or workflows is either during the Summer holidays or around Christmas time.

We waited until multicam was added and then we did a big demo for the editors with version 10.0.6. When they looked at FCP X versus other NLEs and they saw the unique skimming features, the trackless magnetic timeline, the fast trimming tools, the extensive search functions, the great multicam workflow, the powerful graphics options…, everyone said: we got to go with this. People were actually very positively impressed with its capabilities.

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What are the most important features in FCP X that made you go for it? 

Daniel: FCP X offers a different approach to editing than other NLEs, so it takes some basic training to get familiar with this approach. But it’s very easy to learn and once you understand how it works, you realize how powerful it really is.

One of the things we liked from the beginning is the magnetic timeline, which ensures that everything always stays in sync. No matter where you insert new clips, you never have to worry about some hidden clip on the timeline going out of sync. The vertical structure with connected clips is very practical. It allows us to always maintain the relation between clips on the main storyline and any connected audio, graphics, titles and subtitles. And thanks to the trackless concept you can edit very fast because you never have to worry on which tracks your clips will go or if they will collide with other clips on the timeline.

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Another thing that struck us immediately is how easy it is in FCP X to organize, search and find assets in your production. The fully searchable Keyword Collections and Smart Collections and the List and Thumbnail views combined with the powerful skimming tool allow us to find any asset within no time, without having to open clips in a separate viewer. This saves us a lot of time during the creative process. Being able to quickly tag clips as Favorites, rejects etc… while you are skimming, and being able to instantly filter the clips based on your tags is also a very useful feature.

Then there is all the audio and video effects that can be previewed in realtime from within the effects browser without having to add them to the clips first, there’s the fast trimming tools, the compound clips workflow, the great multicam… these were all aspects that made us like the application from the beginning.

And once we really started using it in production, we discovered even more of its unique features. Seeing how Motion templates are integrated with the FCP X interface, we realized that we could create custom effects and graphics for every program ourselves in Motion 5, and make these effects immediately available to every editor right inside FCP X. This changed our vision on how we could work.

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When a director or a producer would like to add some special effect to some clips, we create it for him in Motion 5, or we modify an existing FCP X template for him, exactly as he wants it. And these templates can be easily re-used and adapted by anyone, because we can give the editors access to parameters that can be modified for each show. Even an editor with no experience with Motion can modify the effect parameters right inside the FCP X inspector.

We have a central database for every template or graphic that is used in any program. When we have a template that will be used across different rooms, we put it on our server so every editing room can access it. Whenever an editor needs to work on a certain program, the editor puts the templates that are associated with his program from the server onto his local system and they immediately appear in the FCP X templates browser. This way we never bloat the browser with templates that the editor won’t need anyway.

So we have custom effects, graphics and titles that are always consistent for every program and that have been validated by the program producers. This has been a revelation for us. It is an error free, time-saving way of creating, managing and modifying effects, titles and graphics right within the editing application and without needing to go to any other program.

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Which third-party plugins and software do you use?

Daniel: We have some third-party effects plugin packs, but we don’t use these very often because we prefer to create our own effects, graphics and titles. One title plugin we use a lot is Manifesto from FX Factory to create crawling and scrolling titles and credits. Another very useful plugin is SliceX from CoreMelt. We mainly use it to create animated masks.

When we were on Final Cut Pro and Motion 4, we had developed a very efficient graphics workflow with an application called AutoMotion from Digital Heaven. Using AutoMotion, the creation and spell-checking of any Motion template can be easily done from Excel or Text documents by anyone in the house on any Mac. Titles are validated and correct before they get to us, which saves us a lot of time.

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Unfortunately, the developer has stopped updating this application when Motion 5 was released, and there simply is no alternative for it. Using a little workaround, we have been able to preserve our AutoMotion workflow with FCP X and Motion 5. But we would be very happy if Digital Heaven would continue to develop this app. Because it is a big time-saver and it is extremely useful for any video department that has to deal with large amounts of titles, title graphics and lower thirds on a regular basis.

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Finally, one of the most useful third-party applications for us is X2Pro from Marquis Broadcast. The final audio mix of most of our programs is done in our ProTools or Merging Pyramix rooms. Although we can mix audio right inside FCP X, I prefer to have the final mix done by a professional audio engineer on a dedicated DAW to make sure that the program audio fully complies with the EBU R128 loudness standard.

So we create AAFs based on Roles using X2Pro and we send these AAFs to the audio guys. Roles are a very powerful feature of FCP X, and we see a lot of ways in which Roles could play a significant “role” in the further development of the application.

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One of the ProTools rooms.

 

Our audio people say that, if Roles are applied correctly, the AAF that comes from FCP X via X2Pro is cleaner than any other AAF because all the audio tracks are clearly organized based on the Roles that were applied to them in FCP X. That’s why we have put a note inside every editing room to remind the editors of the fact that they should always apply their Roles first, before starting to edit their projects.

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What kind of video formats do you work with?

Daniel: The mezzanine codec for our studios and broadcast trucks is AVC-Intra 100 MXF. XDCAM HD and DVCPRO HD are also very common. But we get all different kinds of footage on cards, sticks, drives, coming from external sources. As we are the final step in the production chain, we always have to find ways to make things work. A good thing about FCP X is that it works natively with most common formats without sacrificing time during the final export of the program. And if we do get exotic formats to deal with, our media handler conforms them to ProRes in our ingest room.

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Media manager Lionel Bach in the ingest room.

 

How do you organize your media and your production assets?

Patrice: Organization is critical when you have to deal with so much content coming different sources. At RTS we have an official broadcast guideline with specific acronyms for every program, that are used across every department. Programs and shows are identified by a 5 letter acronym derived from the production rights and log sheets. So we just take these acronyms to name our folders and files. Every program folder, every master file, every library bears this acronym and the air date in its title. This naming structure allows us to quickly find any file or folder without needing to open it. As an example : TEMPR_160114_EMI is the video master of the 14th of January 2016 show of the “Temps Présent” program.

All the editing rooms are connected to our shared storage server where we keep our media, our FCP X Libraries and Cache folders, and all other assets that we need for our programs.

There is a main root folder for our productions, with inside it separate folders for each program. We have additional folders on the server to receive EVS material from the studios and the OB trucks, pushed over ftp, and for archive material pushed from the archive server, as well as a dedicated folder for current material pushed from our in-house “Equipro" MAM. Finally there are root folders for ProRes exports, xml exports, Mocha files etc. that contain a dedicated folder per show.

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 Ronny examining the folder structures at RTS Post Production.

 

Essentially we have two folders for FCP X Libraries. One is a repository for the show that is being cut, the other one contains the"base” Library that gets used every week or month for each show. This Library contains graphic elements, example timelines of the show and some effects which we stored on the example timelines before favorite effects existed in FCPX. 

Daniel: The base Library represents the complete program structure based on FCP X placeholder templates, custom effects and pre-edits. Each program is very easy to adapt because we can do a simple replace in FCP X, and the magnetic timeline instantly conforms to the new media.

Patrice: Both types of libraries are copied by the editor to a local partition in the edit room. This ensures that, should the server come down, the edit can keep going on as soon as the media is re-imported from the media backups. In the event of same day to air shows, we always keep a backup of the media for that show on a 4TB networked drive so we can do everything locally if needed. We never need to relink any media when we copy the Libraries from the server to the local stations. Everything reconnects instantly in FCP X. As everything is stored outside of the Libraries, on the server, Libraries are extremely small and transfers are very quick.

At the end of the day the editors copy their libraries back to the two folders on the server. This way the “base” library is always up-to-date, and the day’s work is available to all rooms should some modifications be needed over the next days.

Daniel: Once a program has been aired we delete the media from our server and we only keep clean archives of the exported final edits. We do keep the last two episode folders for every program, in case a new editor on the program wants to check how the latest episode was edited.

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In 2013, the RTS management set up a procurement procedure to replace the X-SAN of the Post Production division. Apple X-SAN was EOL, and not being able to update the server OS anymore also implied that the editing rooms could not be updated beyond Mavericks and FCP X 10.1.3. So they organized a workgroup to manage the purchasing process for the new server.

RTS FCPco FCPX 22Gérard Saudan, Project Manager Process & Developments:

We have strict procedures when purchasing new equipment. First we draw up a specifications sheet in which we clearly explain what we expect the equipment to do and how it should integrate with our existing infrastructure. Then we contact several suppliers who submit their offer based on our specifications.

We then select the best offers, based on their price/performance relation, and finally the selected systems go through a number of tests on-site. When a system passes all the tests, we organize a briefing with the workgroup and our Procurement Manager for final acceptance of the equipment.

 

Daniel: We tested two big brand systems, but neither of them passed our tests. Both had integration problems and both failed to deliver the performance we expected. Seeing that expensive systems like these did not deliver what they advertise, while we never had real issues with FCP X on our old Apple X-SAN, we wondered if this could be a problem with FCP X not playing well with NAS shared storage.

Management and engineering also started to get worried, fearing that rumors they heard about Apple abandoning the professional market and even ditching FCP X were true. So once again the question was raised if it wouldn’t be better for us to go back to Avid. FCP X had always worked well for us and we absolutely wanted to stay with it, so we needed to provide answers.

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Ronny: In June 2015 we got an e-mail from Patrice and Daniel, asking if we could help them convince RTS management and engineering that Final Cut Pro really was a future-proof option, find a new shared storage system that really worked, and have a look at their FCP X workflows. I was doing a presentation about FCP X collaborative workflows at IBC in September, so I suggested Anouchka and I would meet with the RTS engineers in Amsterdam. In the meantime we would look for a system that would fulfil their needs.

I’m not going to go into details about the systems that failed, you can hear all about this straight from the RTS specialists in the videos at the end of this article. But when we received the specifications sheet we immediately saw why many common systems would have a hard time coping with the required sustained bandwidth.

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They needed a 100 TB effective and fully expandable enterprise NAS system with high redundancy and high-availability for 24 client connections. 12 connections over 10Gig SFP+ to their existing fiber channel network for the editing stations and the audio and ingest stations. And 12 connections over Gigabit Ethernet to their existing Cat6 network for extra ingest, titling and graphics machines, Open Directory and system admin.

As for performance, the system would need to deliver sufficient sustained bandwidth to enable a minimum of 5 editing rooms cutting, rendering and exporting heavy multicam projects in FCP X at the same time without any latency, plus one or more audio stations running video and multichannel audio from the server while media was ingested to the server over high-speed connections from different sources, all at the same time. This represents several challenges for any shared storage system:

- Their current setup is with 2012 MacPros with 10GigE cards inside running Mavericks and FCP X, a MacPro running Lion for the AutoMotion software and different other computers including a PC. Plus the system has to integrate with their existing networks, existing Archive and MAM servers, EVS servers etc… using different protocols. Classic out-of-the-box shared storage systems need a lot of on-site customization to do all this.

- Furthermore, to store Final Cut Pro X Libraries on a SAN you need to use the NFS protocol. Most NAS manufacturers say they support NFS and FCP X, but in reality they don’t handle it well at all. You often get bottlenecks in the data pipeline leading to latency and beachballs on the client stations, no matter what kind of theoretical bandwidth the system offers.

- And last but not least, all editing and ingest clients must be able to perform high-speed file transfers to the server without affecting the sustained Read bandwidth of any editing station. This is one of the biggest problems most NAS systems will face in this kind of setup. During the tests they did with the previous systems, bandwidth dropped considerably and brought the editing systems to a halt as soon as one of the Studios or Outside Broadcast trucks started streaming live multicam footage onto the server over the high-speed network. Or even when one of the editing stations did a simple export over 10GigE.

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Creative Director Alain Hugi preparing a multicam entertainment show in one of the trucks.

 

In the write-up about the project we did with the great Bob Zelin at Metronome Productions in Denmark, I already mentioned that we would be following the new products from LumaForge closely to see if we could use them in demanding setups like these. If you haven’t read that article yet, you can find it here: Final Cut Pro X in Enterprise Level television Production.

We had been in touch with Sam Mestman several times, and everything he told us about their system seemed very promising. That’s why we thought this project could be an excellent opportunity to see if the LumaForge system would really live up to our expectations. Sam was going to be at IBC as well, so we invited him to have a chat with the Swiss engineers.

We met in Amsterdam with Philippe Staehlin, Head of Broadcast Systems and Operations at RTS and Franck Wisser, Systems Engineer at RTS. They had an in-depth meeting with Sam. He was very sure about his product. He even suggested that they could send him a drive with all their test projects and media so he could do an online demo for them, showing that the ShareStation would work perfectly within all their specifications in the exact setup they would use. This was a great argument, which convinced the engineers.

We also had a long and interesting meeting with the Final Cut Pro product managers who were at IBC, and Philippe and Franck said they were happy with the information they had received. So now the only remaining hurdle was to convince the other managers in the workgroup.

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Patrice, Anouchka, Ronny, Sam, Noah, Peter and Thomas at IBC 2015.

 

Shortly after IBC we got a phone call from Gérard asking us to fly over to Genève to present our project to the entire workgroup. It is quite understandable that managers in large-scale operations want to be reassured that the systems and software they purchase will be future-proof. They had heard “rumors” that Apple would abandon the professional world and FCP X all together, and they wanted to hear our opinion about this. The best way to counter unfounded rumors and speculation is by presenting bare facts:

 

Apple has released 17 free updates to FCP X in 4 years, adding in features that are specifically targeted to professionals. Acquiring third-party technology for MXF import and export, adding native support for high-end cameras, optimizing Libraries for shared storage networks… are just a few examples of features that have been added specifically for professional workflows.

- They have made ProRes a worldwide industry standard for professional production, including PR 4444 XQ for high-end acquisition and high-quality mastering.

- They have optimized FCP X for a new MacPro that is targeted at high-performance workflows, and they have supported most new high-end cameras and codecs pretty quickly after they shipped.


- They work together with third-party developers who add specific functionality to FCP X that is only needed by some professional users.

- Although you won’t find them on any forums the FCP X managers always have been very helpful behind the scenes, providing answers and assistance where they can.

- Finally, FCP X is used by an increasing number of professionals in Hollywood and independent features, primetime drama, reality tv, corporate, event and sports productions, high-profile documentaries and commercials. With so many professionals all over the world embracing Final Cut Pro, there is no reason whatsoever why Apple would not continue to develop FCP X for professionals now and in the future.

After listening to our arguments and to the briefing about our meetings in Amsterdam, management gave us the final go. And from then on, things went really fast.

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In October Sam and his team did an extensive online demo of the ShareStation for the Swiss managers and engineers, using their projects and media. The demo was so convincing that only a few weeks later RTS decided to purchase the ShareStation. They also asked Sam and Eric Altman, the LumaForge CTO, to do the install and to give system and admin training to the engineers in Genève. Anouchka and I would be there as independent observers, checking if everything worked to everyone’s satisfaction.

We planned 2 days for install and setup, and another three days for training, testing and final evaluation. In December 2015, right before the Christmas holidays, LumaForge started setting up the ShareStation in the Post Production server room on the third floor of the RTS tower. We will let the people from RTS tell you themselves how things turned out.

 

RTS FCPco FCPX 27Franck Wisser, Systems Engineer:

After several attempts to install a new shared storage system with other manufacturers, which were all very problematic, I have to admit we were quite skeptical. All I can say is that this integration has been very smooth. We inserted the drives into the chassis, then Eric powered up the system and launched a full system check.

One hour later the ShareStation was up and running. We could start connecting the server to our existing network and our client systems, which went without any issues.

We did have a connection problem with an old MacPro that still runs on Lion, which was not supported by the ShareStation client software. But Eric modified some parameters in the software on the spot, and the problem was solved. We had scheduled 2 days for setup and install, but at the end of day 1 our new shared storage network was already working.

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RTS FCPco FCPX 29Olivier Joye, Systems Engineer:

The second day we got system and admin training for the ShareStation. I would like to emphasize that Eric, the CTO from LumaForge, knows his system extremely well. He was very generous in sharing information, he did not withhold any information for commercial purposes or for any other reason.

He has shown and explained everything we wanted, he has answered all our questions. Their user interface puts the administration of their system within reach of anyone who has some experience with shared storage systems.

 

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Ronny: Then came the time to put the ShareStation through the strict acceptance tests. The editing rooms were still working on the old X-SAN during the day, so we had to wait until the evening of day 4 to do this.

As a video tells more that a million words, we have recorded the two most important tests for you on our iPad: the stress test and the performance test.

Franck: The stress test allows us to verify the real total bandwidth of the system running over the network, and to check bandwidth consistency under high pressure. This test is done running the Blackmagic Speed test app on multiple systems at the same time. We had 9 systems connected over 10Gig SFP+ and one audio system over 1GigE, all running together:

 

Our performance tests are based on real-life situations in RTS post production. We don't have these requirements every day, but certainly on some occasions. We first tested 5 clients running heavy multicams with different video formats and multichannel audio at the same time, while another machine was exporting to the server, yet another one was ingesting media over a high-speed connection, and a Protools station was playing video and 16 streams of audio.

The test is meant to check if all the edit rooms can still cut heavy projects without any latency, drop frames or beachballs under these conditions. We could follow the performance curves on the ShareStation system monitor. The curves were flat, bandwidth always remained consistent and stable, so this test was successful. Then we started pushing the system beyond the test specifications, running a total of 45 streams of ProRes HQ HD plus 16 streams of ProRes HQ 4K, while exporting and ingesting at full speed:

 

Anouchka: As the tests evolved, we could see smiles of relief appearing on the faces of our Swiss friends. When they finally told us they were very satisfied with the system, we were relieved as well. After all, we had stuck our necks out deciding to tackle this high-profile job with a young company and a new system that we never had worked with. But the people from LumaForge hadn’t let us down. After the tests we went out to celebrate with Sam, Eric, Franck, Olivier and Patrice, discovering the sparkling nightlife of Genève.

Ronny: The next morning we had the official acceptance briefing with the RTS workgroup. During this briefing, every step in the procurement process is re-evaluated to see if the selected equipment really fulfills all the requirements. If you want to know what went wrong with the other systems, watch this video:

 

The ShareStation was officially approved and everyone in the group was happy they had finally found the right shared storage system for the RTS Post Production department, not in the least the Head of Post Production and the Project Manager:

 

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Happy faces at the acceptance briefing. From left to right: Sam Mestman, Joël Bertin (RTS Procurement Manager), Anouchka, Philippe, Franck, Daniel, Gérard and Olivier.

 

Anouchka: The LumaForge team seems to have discovered the secret sauce to turn an old, extremely complex and troublesome technology into a modern state-of-the-art system that is easy to integrate and that truly delivers great performance in the real world, at very competitive prices.

The system at RTS is an enterprise-level NAS that can be easily expanded up to 3.5 Petabytes of effective storage capacity and a total bandwidth of 12.000 MB/s. Of course not everyone needs a beefy system like this. That’s why we are happy to see that LumaForge has developed a complete product line with solutions targeted at many different users within a wide range of budgets.

And all of these solutions carry the same secret sauce. What that secret sauce is, we cannot tell you. But its’ a sauce with many different ingredients, and one that really makes the difference between a system that “works” and a system that wows.

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All ShareStation models will happily run with any NLE. But if you (also) use FCP X, we absolutely believe that a ShareStation will be the best possible collaboration solution for you. Granted, we may be a little biased after our great experience at RTS. But if you have watched the unbiased comments of the experts in the videos, you will see that we are not the only ones being happy with what Sam and his team are doing.

Since we have worked with LumaForge on this project, they have added Avid bin and project sharing and they have enabled some interesting new features that allow FCP X users to un-lock Libraries and to relink Proxy media just with the touch of one button. Constant improvement is always a sign of good business.

If you want to know more about the LumaForge products, check their website: LumaForge.

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A view on the RTS buildings behind the tower, with in the back their brand new six-story studio complex.

 

Conclusion.

2015 has been an exciting year for Final Cut Pro. Not only has FCP X become the most popular professional NLE for modern content creators, it has also been getting a huge amount of love from the traditional movie production and broadcast industry. The RTS project is one of many high-profile FCP X stories you will hear about in the next months.

The people at RTS have been very thorough in making their choices. They carefully investigated different options until they knew that FCP X really would make the big difference for them. Then they adapted their existing workflows to the new application, and not the other way around. And finally they provided a decent training to their people. That’s the professional way of doing things. You should never take a new technology and just slot it into the space the old one left behind.

But what struck us most in this project, is that the Head of Post Production and the editors at RTS are so happy with FCP X -even though they are still running version 10.1.3 on Mavericks and 2012 MacPros- that they don’t want to go back to any other NLE. It’s a reaction we see with many people who have been using FCP X on a regular basis. And we have shown them the further speed gains they will see as soon as they update their MacPros, MacOS and FCP X to the latest versions. So they are quite confident for the future.

Another revelation in this project has been the ShareStation. The high performance, the stability and the easy implementation of this remarkable shared storage system, as well as the very professional attitude of the LumaForge team, have made a huge impression on us and on our Swiss friends. This was our first collaboration with LumaForge, it will not be our last.

We absolutely want to thank RTS for allowing us to share this information with you. It’s not often that you get a free pass to delve into the inner workings and procedures of a national broadcast operation. Everything that has been said in the article has been officially approved by RTS management and reviewed by every person who has contributed to this story.

 

Ronny Courtens 

 

Another big thank you to Ronny for a fantastic user story, a whole TV station switching to FCPX is big news. Also thank you to Anouchka, Sam, Eric and everybody at RTS for very kindly sharing all their information.

©2016 Ronny Courtens/FCP.co