Postlab for Media Composer brings secure cloud-based collaborative editing to Avid editors. It’s a breakthrough, and a big deal for the Avid community. Here’s how it came to be built, and what it means for Avid professionals.
We often see progress as an infrequent series of enormous jumps. Right up until Apple announced its M series processors, most people thought that the Cupertino company was years away from building its own CPUs. Now, Apple is ahead of the field. And who would have thought that an electric car maker would not only be one of the biggest car companies but bigger than almost every company?
But Apple’s processors were not designed overnight. Tesla’s cars have taken around twelve years to get to the point where they’re so popular that the company can’t build enough of them.
The internet didn’t get fast enough to support real time video editing overnight, either. It’s taken at least two decades to get there, and to some people the news that you can edit video directly from the cloud will be a complete surprise. So how is it, then, that responsive, smooth video editing in the cloud is now a reality?
The internet is thousands of times faster
At least part of the reason is that, outside of most people’s awareness, the internet has been speeding up. For a while, until around a decade ago, there were stories every year that the internet was going to reach capacity. That it wouldn’t be able to take any more. But that never happened. Today we watch ultra-high definition TV over the internet routinely. It’s not magic. It’s the result of years of steady improvement, typically by two or three orders of magnitude.
We tend not to notice this type of change, until it’s pointed out to us, or there’s a new product or service that does things we didn’t expect to be possible for another ten years.
The backdrop to much of this is of course the cloud. Ever since Hotmail we’ve been using cloud services. We just didn’t realise it. Today, the entire world relies on cloud-native software, from Slack to Google Sheets; from Amazon to Azure. The technology behind these behemoths is powerful, and tough enough to support literally billions of users. It’s impressive. But is it accessible? Not very.
Tempting though it is, you can’t plug the cloud into a USB port and expect it to behave like a local disk drive. Typical large-scale cloud providers require all sorts of technical hurdles to be jumped before you can use them. That’s OK for enterprises or companies employing teams of developers with time on their hands, but it’s not OK for busy editors, who need to be productive, especially when they’re working remotely.
Because of the way that the Avid ecosystem is designed, Avid editors historically have been bound to edit suites. For those using Final Cut Pro or Premiere, both lacking effective collaboration tools before Postlab arrived on the scene, it's much less a requirement to work on-premise. However, for Avid editors working collaboratively, it's their predestined habitat.
The current state of affairs not only forces Avid editors to go into the office to work - arguably not the safest option these days - but it also locks out Avid editors who want to collaborate with others. It means that creative professionals in other parts of the world are locked out of projects because they can’t work remotely or collaborate. Working together should be available to anyone, on any platform, anywhere in the world. Democratizing workflows is what we do at Hedge, and this workflow is in dire need of it.
So, the challenge for the Hedge team was to build a cloud-driven editing environment for Avid editors that was easy to set up, fluid, fast and smooth to use, secure, and affordable. To make this feasible, there were several mountains to climb.
First we had to make Postlab's cloud storage component “Drive” compatible with Media Composer. Avid's Bin Locking technology is the key here. If we could “speak'' Avid, then Media Composer Ultimate would be able to use whatever storage we provided. In addition to compatibility, this also opens up collaboration: the whole point of Bin Locking is that it makes it safe for multiple editors to work on the same project, via the same shared storage, with no complicated intermediate processes or technologies.
We’ve done this through our partnership with LucidLink: we bring the locking tech, they bring the cloud NAS tech. Together we’ve created and configured all the layers needed to make cloud storage function as if it's local shared workspace.
What does this mean? It means that to Avid editors, Postlab for Media Composer looks, works, and feels like a NEXIS — but in the cloud. It acts just like you have fast storage connected in your own facility. What’s more, it has all the collaborative functionality built in as well.
Finally, we had to make sure it worked smoothly with fast and slow broadband. With fast connections, you can edit directly, with low latency. For slower speeds, we designed Drive so that it would cache media and all other data needed for your production on your local drive. Once cached, the only limit is the speed of your own SSD. If you’re editing on the new Macbook Pros, you’ll be using some of the fastest storage ever put into a laptop. For Windows users, we have a version coming to you. It, too, will work with whatever fast storage you choose.
All of this is possible because, once your cache is in place, the only changes are tiny, and likely to be project data. LucidLink's brilliant sync technology only requires syncing of the changed bytes. For a lock file, that's not even a KB of data.
One other thing: even though your working media is cached on your computer, it’s totally inaccessible to anyone who is not signed in with their own valid credentials. To anyone else, the cache is a meaningless blob, and is arguably more secure than traditional on-premise storage.
That’s the technical background. What about the wider advantages?
First, economics. The cloud is almost infinitely flexible. Once you start using Postlab, you can expand one week and shrink the next, with your resources ebbing and flowing with the workload. Need 20 extra editors for a week? You can have them up and running within minutes, and remove them from the team when you’re finished. Add to that being able to recruit talent from anywhere in the world. Creativity and location are not related to each other, remember?
Next, familiarity. There’s literally no need to train anyone to use the system. They already know how. It’s no different. Create a workspace and they’re up and running.
One more thing
Finally, there are many other benefits, but there’s one that’s absolutely critical. Postlab for Media Composer releases you from vendor lock-in. There’s no longer any need to stick with the same manufacturer. The cloud is an open environment. It’s an opportunity for multiple vendors to work together. No single manufacturer has all the best stuff, and it follows that you’re at a disadvantage if you’re locked in.
There’s a lot more to say about Postlab, and a lot more that we can do in the future. We’re pretty sure we can create workflow innovations that we haven’t thought of yet. And we’re always open to suggestions.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to try Postlab for Media Composer, it’s easy. Book a demo, or jump in and start the free 15-day trial. (For Windows, email and ask us to join our Early Adopter programme) 👉 https://hedge.video/postlab-avid/