For filmmaker and editor Damien LeVeck, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned every part of filmmaking upside down, including the technology used to move and store data-rich files.
“There hasn’t been any normality in the last two years,” he said.
This included his recent use of Blackmagic file syncing and storage technology for his latest product. Blackmagic is known for cameras and editing software. However, in 2022, it expanded its portfolio to include portable NAS devices and cloud storage. This type of equipment is not new to companies. But it’s new for filmmaking, where remote collaboration is becoming more common.
The Blackmagic Cloud Store uses services like Dropbox and Google Drive to sync a full NVMe, high-capacity SSD-based NAS device with smaller remote NAS devices. While the storage setup could be used for any type of file syncing, Blackmagic has geared its Cloud Store towards its core customers by making its NAS devices portable and quiet. Cloud Store also included Blackmagic’s video-centric software in the product at no extra cost.
According to Dave Raffo, an analyst at Evaluator Group, Cloud Store is considered a global file system, which puts it in the same category as Nasuni, Ctera, and Panzura. The other providers rely on public cloud storage, while Blackmagic provides portable, local storage.
But Blackmagic lacks the features common with enterprise NAS, Raffo said. It does not include snapshot deployment, replication, thin provisioning, deduplication, disaster recovery, or encryption capabilities. However, Cloud Store supports flash drives, Ethernet networking, and RAID, which provide important performance and collaboration features for video professionals.
The Blackmagic Cloud Store is available in 20TB, 80TB, or 320TB. Prices for 20TB start at $9,595. The NAS connects to DropBox and Google Drive for syncing, as well as the smaller 8TB Cloud Store Mini and Cloud Pod NAS devices for remote use, all over 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
Build on partnerships
LeVeck is no stranger to Blackmagic gear, having used his cameras, switchers, cables and format converters – both on and behind the scenes – on his first short film in 2016. In 2019, LeVeck expanded the short into a feature film using Blackmagic.
Production on LeVeck’s upcoming film, A Creature was Stirring, due out in 2023, began around the same time Blackmagic announced Cloud Store. Balancing the cost of using his own production company and Blackmagic’s new storage system, LeVeck chose the latter.
“I’m product agnostic; I’m just looking for the best tool for the job,” he said. “But I’m also a total tech nerd who likes to be on the cutting edge – finding new ways to work smarter, not harder.”
The film project uses primarily Blackmagic equipment including DaVinci Resolve 18 editing software, Cloud Store NAS device, its proxy generator software and the Dropbox cloud. Proxies are compressed video files that are easier to move and edit between devices. When LeVeck used Cloud Store, the system used Dropbox as cloud storage.
The ability to quickly move files to a central repository in the cloud was helpful to LeVeck and his team, who were working on the film from different locations and sometimes different states.
The team dropped video and sound files onto a Mini, which loaded everything into Dropbox, LeVeck said. From there, the production team used the proxy generation software in the cloud store to create proxies for editing.
In Los Angeles, the assistant editor added sound effects, and the files were copied to the cloud store and synced from Dropbox. LeVeck had access to a dubbed file in Dallas where he edited the footage.
“Several people can work here [DaVinci] Solve the project simultaneously by editing, making tone, and making color,” LeVeck said.
Dropbox tomatoes lean to rotten
The storage was all SSD and provided enough performance for processing proxies, LeVeck said. The only thing missing was using Dropbox, which slowed down the process.
At this time, Blackmagic did not support Dropbox Pro, which offers additional collaboration features. This includes a team tool that gives admins more control over files, preventing issues like accidental deletion or the need to duplicate the data for each part of production.
Damien LeVeckCompany director and editor, Skubalon
“You don’t want your composer to have access to all of the original camera files,” LeVeck said.
According to LeVeck, Blackmagic should consider future integration with a more robust file sharing platform like LucidLink or a large cloud like AWS S3.
That being said, LeVeck said there were net savings in using the Blackmagic Cloud Store over the traditional way he captured, stored and edited movies. But he still sees the product as a niche.
“If you have a remote office or multiple users sharing the same media, Cloud Store is great,” said LeVeck. “But normally [with] the kind of workflow on a small independent film, I don’t know if I do to need something like the cloud store.”
Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at StorageReview.com.