We know that Final Cut Pro X can have issues with NFS storage. Felipe Baez details how to optimise a Synology RAID especially for shared FCPX editing.
In this tutorial I’ll explain how to configure the Synology NAS (DSM 6.x) to be used over NFS and be able to edit your projects on FCPX using this storage.
Final Cut Pro X is an extremely powerful post-production tool and platform, also an extremely accessible one with its $299 price point. There isn’t anything in the world of editing that you can’t achieve with FCPX.
When working with a lot of media, be that specific videos for a project, b-roll, stock video or any media that might be used again in the future on different projects (or by other editors), it’s a smart move to have your media be unmanaged, in other words your media won’t live inside the FCPX bundle.
The Synology DS416play (The unit is identical to the one being configured)
When using shared storage, you allow other editors to work at the same time as you with the same media or off the same storage, thus optimizing storage usage by not duplicating files unnecessarily. On the other hand, working with video is bandwidth intensive, therefore it’s recommended to have a great connection to the shared storage, at least 1Gbps over wired network (will work well for 1080p media, and some types of 4K) and 10Gbps for 4K in general and higher resolutions/bitrates. Wifi can work, but you won’t have the same performance as from a wired connection and you might lose your hair out of desperation on the process.
The other thing that counts when using shared storage is how fast the NAS/SAN/File Server can read/write big files and small files. Big files performance will count for your media and small files will count for your Library and Cache.
I own a Synology DS415+ with 4x 4Tb RED drives configured in RAID 5 with 1 disk tolerance, giving me around 11Tb of usable space. The NAS has two 1Gbps connections going to a Netgear gigabit switch that is connected to an AirPort Extreme. I’m using a 2016 MacBook Pro 15”, i7 2.7Ghz, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb SSD and AMD Radeon 455 2Gb.
Connected over wifi (802.11ac) at a speed between 1.1 and 1.3Gbps I get the following results according to the BlackMagic Disk Speed:
Write: 20 to 40MB/s
Read: 10 to 30MB/s
Write: 20 to 70MB/s
Read: 10 to 50MB/s
Over 1Gbps wired connection using a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 and a Thunderbolt 2 to Ethernet adapter:
Write: 45 to 50MB/s
As you can see from the results above, no matter which protocol you use, SMB or NFS, over WiFi you get a very inconsistent result at best. With optimal conditions you still won’t have proper performance to edit without pulling your hair off. My recommendation is to use wired connection and to connect to your Synology NAS over NFS protocol. The second part of my recommendation is to set your Cache to your internal SSD. This NAS is not optimized to read/write very small files with high performance as is necessary for caching. If you have a 1Tb or bigger SSD, you can create a second partition where you can store the cache without affecting the main partition with your OS and applications.
I’m assuming you already know how to access and login to your NAS, so I’ll just dive in.
- You’ll first need to have a Shared Folder that you’ll preferably use exclusively for editing, just to keep things in order. I call mine “Video Editing”, super creative, ain’t it?
- On Control Panel, go to File Services and tick “Enable NFS” and “Enable NFSv4 support” and then click on Apply.
- On Control Panel, go to Shared Folder, select your shared folder and click on Edit
- On the screen that appears, go to NFS Permissions and click on Create
- Now you have a screen called Edit NFS rule. Not so complicated but I’ll explain using my type of IP range (10.0.1.x).
- Hostname or IP*: 10.0.1.x/255.255.255.0 (substitute everything before the backslash with the IP of your Mac)
- Privilege: Read/Write
- Squash: Map all users to admin
- Security: sys
- Enable asynchronous - YES
- Allow connections from non-privileged ports (ports higher than 1024) - YES
- Allow users to access mounted subfolders - YES
- Hit OK and then OK again. You’re done, now you can access your shared folder over NFS. Note the mount path that is shown in the bottom of the Edit Shared Folder screen, you’ll need it. Mine says /volume1/Video Editing
In five steps we configured our Synology NAS to be accessed over NFS, now’s time to connect to our NAS!
On Finder, hit CMD+K or go to “Go - Connect to Server”
Type the following string: nfs://NASIP/mountpath (in my case is nfs://10.0.1.2/volume1/Video Editing). You can click the + button to add this to your list of Favorite servers. Click connect.
You should now be connected and should see in the info of the connection that you are connected over Network File System (NFS)
Now you can create a Library in this shared folder and open it from there without any problems. I recommend setting the cache to your internal SSD when setting up your Library for better performance. You can also refer to my previous article on collaborative editing for a suggested way on how to organize your folders.
This method will work with most Synology units that are running DSM 6.X, even models with higher performance.
Hope this was useful to someone out there and in case anyone has any special request or questions, let me know!
Felipe Baez is an experienced FCPX editor, having worked on FCP 5, 6 and 7 prior to adopting FCPX as his platform of choice since its introduction. Felipe specializes in high pressure, short deadline projects in a global company acting as the Video Editor Lead for the Broadcast sector. Felipe designed a collaborative workflow for FCPX editors that’s used today across 4 countries in his global team.