All good things come in threes
Today, we're releasing not just one OffShoot, but three:
🌱 OffShoot Solo, custom built for iPadOS
🌱 OffShoot, the evolution of the Hedge you all know so very well
🌱 OffShoot Pro, a home for high-end features and workflows
iPads with USB-C
For years we've been eyeing the increasing power of iPads packed with each new generation, but being able to get media onto an iPad was always hindered severely due to the USB-2 speed of the Lightning bus. How awesome would it be to be able to roam free but not have to pack a laptop and not being reliant on AC-power to charge gear?
Thanks to iPads with Thunderbolt, the advent of large power banks, and most importantly, the brand-new iPadOS 17, true mobility now becomes reality. As iPadOS 17 unlocks the true speed of the Thunderbolt port, iPads now allow for offload speeds that are on par with MacBooks and NUCs.
OffShoot Solo has been tailor-made for iPad, and makes use of everything the hardware has to offer: offloading to the internal SSD, to external SSDs, or to both at the same time is finally possible. Combined with our Checkpoint verification technology, optimized for Apple silicon, OffShoot Solo offers a truly mobile workflow complete with Transfer Logs, MHLs, and XXH checksum verification.
The app formerly known as Hedge has been revamped with an updated user interface and app icon.
OffShoot's biggest change is more fundamental - we've come up with a new way of handling activations, and are bringing it to OffShoot first:
With the launch of OffShoot, we're replacing seats with activations.
All OffShoot licenses allow you to register all your computers using a single license key, even if the license has only one activation.
Your activation will float to whichever computer has OffShoot open. As soon as you activate a new computer, OffShoot offers you to move the activation to your current computer without having to leave the app.
As all computers you install OffShoot on will remember your license key, the next time you open OffShoot on one of them, it'll automatically offer to move the activation to that machine - without requiring a license key.
Floating Licenses are first made available to all with a single seat on their license, and to multi-seat licenses later.
What's also new in OffShoot is the third iteration of Connect, our remote transfer push notification system:
Seven years ago, Connect was an industry-first. Getting a push notification on your iPhone or Watch was much more convenient than checking your email for a transfer report. We upped the ante two years ago with an Android app and live updates, and today it's time for Chapter Thre️e.
With the original Connect an iOS-only affair, and the second Connect instalment available for both iOS and Android, with this third generation, we're bringing Connect to the cloud:
In seven years, the landscape for data management has changed quite a bit - in a good way. In 2016, many data handlers were stuck on their own metaphorical islands, disconnected from the outside world; it was mostly a one-person-one-laptop affair. Data management today is much more about collaboration.
In 2021, we made it possible to see live transfers from more than one computer in a single app, and now with Connect 3.0, we present you a live dashboard that gives you an immediate overview of which of your computers are offloading, what they're offloading, and how long it will take to finish.
On the OffShoot end of things, not much changed - no need to learn anything new. The only change is that you no longer need our now-legacy iOS and Android apps; you can simply install connect.hedge.video as a web app on the home screen of whatever type of device you're using.
Thanks to the maturity of Hedge, we've been fortunate to work on a set of features that are for the proverbial 20% — features that are not a fit for everyone. These features come with significant support and development costs that impacts the majority. As we think it's not fair that all users carry that same burden, we're moving those features into a new version of OffShoot:
OffShoot Pro is the high-end version of OffShoot, a home for those features that are not (yet) useful to most of you. They typically involve automation, integrating OffShoot into workflows and pipelines, or concern improvements for high-end cameras. For the last couple of years, we've been slowly building out this feature set and are now making them publicly available:
- The Preset Builder allows for much more complex presets ("Pro Presets")
- our API, to automate your workflow or integrate OffShoot into a pipeline
- ASC MHLs, the successor of Media Hash Lists built specifically for Netflix-type workflows
All these features are joined by two that have been a staple of Hedge for a long time and focus on the same high-end audience:
Codex & Scripting
The Codex copy engine we built with X2X, the owner of Codex, has very specific features tailored to Codex's way of working with media. The RAW data stream coming from an ARRI camera is so high that the overhead of using a file system to store that data on an SSD is too much. That's why Codex records the data stream direct-to-disk, only to reconstruct a virtual file system when "mounting" the drive. As virtualized file systems are relatively slow to generate, too slow for OffShoot's indexing technology, our Codex copy engine has specific guard rails and safety switches built in.
With Codex on the edge of bleeding hardware technology, we're working continuously with X2X to certify new versions of their hardware and drivers - a time consuming effort, but worth it to the 1% of you that work with Codex and thus high-end ARRIRAW cameras. That's why, with the release of Codex Device Manager 7, required for Alexa 35, we're now moving our Codex engine into OffShoot Pro.
Along those same lines, we love helping out with scripts some of you write to automate Hedge. It's really a lot of fun, but it's also time-consuming fun. The amount of hours we have to spend on scripting eats away many of the hours we have available for customer support. That's not exactly fair to those who don't need scripting, as it means all of you get a slower response when you need help - not cool.
However, losing a feature is also not cool, especially since you spent time on writing that script. We get that, and it pains us. However, as keeping Scripting in the regular OffShoot version just isn't an option, here's the next best thing; if you're currently using scripting to automate their workflow, reach out with your script. We'll publish it so that other users can benefit too, and as a thanks, we'll give you a complimentary upgrade to OffShoot Pro 💸
With OffShoot Pro, you'll not only gain Scripting and Codex support, but also Pro Presets, the API, and our newest Pro feature: S3 transfers.
COVID-19 lead to many productions relying on consumer cloud drives like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, to shuttle data. But they're all slow, have massive latency, and have usage caps. That doesn't work for serious workloads.
What you need for successful integration of the cloud into your workflow is storage that's fast, affordable, and, best of all: reliable. That type of storage already exists, and is called S3. But S3 is not very easy to use if you're not an engineer.
With S3, files are not stored in a file system but in object storage. With object storage, files are accessed via an API, a programmatic way to interact with systems. Amazon was among the first to bring object storage to the cloud in 2006 (!) as a "simple storage service" – you guessed it, S3.
S3 has become so ubiquitous that even though S3 is an Amazon product name, a range of other cloud storage providers offer the same API to access their own storage. They're colloquially referred to as "S3 providers", and 99% of cloud services are built using them.
Today, the internet is driven by S3. It is a straightforward and economical way to store and access files in the cloud and has become synonymous with object storage. S3 is the de-facto standard to access professional cloud storage, just like a file system is the de-facto standard to access files on a hard drive.
Because S3 is API-driven, it's hard to use for non-programmers. That's why most of you have been using alternatives that are easier to integrate into a workflow, like Frame.io or LucidLink. Other, maybe more tech-savvy, people have been using S3 with apps that allow you to "mount" S3 like a network drive, apps like Forklift, Transmit, rclone, and Mountain Duck (a spin-off from CyberDuck).
And that's where problem #1 comes to light.
Such apps offer a quick way to move files into S3 without the user needing technical knowledge, but what many people don't realize is that doesn't mean you can use such a "cloud drive" with other apps - even though it's technically possible.
Finder copying files into S3, or a NLE transcoding directly to S3 gets you into trouble, fast. S3 is not something you want to keep mounted on your computer if it holds vital media. (If you need that, use LucidLink. It's great.)
There's another problem with cloud workflows: verification.
Cloud drives do not offer the verification level you’re used to getting with local storage; they all use a local cache to store media, which then gets verified; checksums are not created from the uploaded data but from the cached data. Serverside verification is a bridge we have been wanting to cross for a long time.
S3 supports verification, but not in the same way as local storage like SSD, NAS, and RAID. Due to S3's multi-part nature, checksums work very differently. In a nutshell, with S3, each file is chopped up, and each part is checksummed. Without going into the details of this checksum-of-checksums (read more about it here), together with Amazon AWS, we have engineered a way to be able to cross-verify server side multipart checksums with locally generated file checksums. That's essential for professional 3-2-1 workflows described by Netflix in their Data Management brief.
With our new integration, it's possible to use standard off-the-shelf S3 without the typical caveats of cloud storage. OffShoot Pro lets you interact with S3 like a hard disk, managing all requests and calls under the hood ensuring everything happens correctly and is fully verified, while ensuring no other apps can gatecrash your S3.
OffShoot Pro allows you to browse a bucket (a bucket is like a disk partition, but on S3) without immediately accessing the data like Finder does. A bit akin to how LTO works, OffShoot Pro allows you to browse your cloud storage, and only when transferring it actually adds to the bucket. All changes are solely done utilizing Amazon's official S3 APIs, to ensure full data integrity.
Thanks to OffShoot Pro's native Amazon S3 integration, productions can now get their media into the cloud in a safe, verified, and affordable way. Already being one of the very few apps in the DIT space, OffShoot Pro is the sole app that can offer an identical workflow for cloud as for local, disk-based productions while adhering to our industry's strict checksum verification needs.
Paired with EditReady’s transcoding power, OffShoot Pro offers a fantastic way to quickly offload OCF locally, create proxies, and push those to S3 for editorial.
OffShoot Pro enables you to keep your camera workflows up to date without investing in new hardware to enable a camera-to-cloud workflow. A complicated step made easy, you can now capture-to-cloud as if the cloud were a remote hard drive, and be free in choosing your cloud storage provider.
So, why AWS? Besides being its inventor, there's a practical reason for it. By working directly with Amazon's M&E team, we can guarantee OffShoot Pro will always be 100% compatible with S3.
That's important, because there is a wide range of cloud storage providers out there. All tout being fully S3-compatible, but in reality, not all S3 implementations are created equally. S3 has such a vast set of APIs and possibilities that not all cloud vendors can keep up their implementation, or have slightly different interpretations of the result of each API call. There's S3, and then there's "S3".
Because implementations subtly differ with each S3 provider, we've decided to certify vendors one by one, and offer an integration for each in time. With AWS being the S3 O.G., they are certified out of the box. We are already busy testing others, and as such can announce we will be releasing support for Backblaze's B2 next. Also next on the roll is Cloud Sources, so you can download your media from the cloud just as easily as uploading it.
Not on AWS? Next to setting up AWS buckets, you can configure S3 storage from other providers as much as you like using the Generic S3 integration. Be sure to test your uploads thoroughly, as we can't guarantee they'll work out of the box - especially multipart checksums can be in the way.
Another big feature in OffShoot Pro that hasn't gotten much attention is ASC MHL. The successor of the original Media Hash List was created by the ASC together with a committee of industry representatives like Netflix and software vendors. It focuses on creating a paper trail of media, copies, and checksums. It's a vast topic, so we wrote a separate blog about it:
ASC-MHL is not for everyone, so Media Hash Lists remain available in both OffShoot and OffShoot Pro.
Connect has a neat additional feature for Pro users. With OffShoot Pro, you don't have to fetch each device's Connect Code; all transfers done with OffShoot Pro are automatically synced with Connect. Use your email or license key instead of logging into your Connect dashboard with a Connect Code. You'll see all devices registered to your license key in the online Connect dashboard.
This feature is perfect for data handlers and media managers that work with multiple teams or locations and need to keep tabs on all media that is being offloaded. Built together with ENVY's London-based DIT department CAPTURE, Connect Pro provides a missing link in many workflows.
Upgrades & Updates
Every Hedge license that is eligible for updates after October 1st, automatically rolls over into an OffShoot license. Your license key stays the same, just install the update that will be made available in app; have your license key at hand so you can register your computer for Floating if needed.
To celebrate the launch of OffShoot, and OffShoot Pro, we have a great deal available to everyone to upgrade their license to Pro. Every Hedge license owner will receive an email with a custom link to a special checkout for whatever is applicable to your license - updating to OffShoot, upgrading to Pro, extending your license, or all of the above. As there's a vast range of Hedge users out there, the special checkout will know exactly what your options are.
As always, if you have questions that are left unanswered in this blog, feel free to reach out ✉️
Also, we're compiling a list of questions and answers live on our blog:
The Hedge Team