Postlab Drive – Newsshooter

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Postlab was released in late in 2019. Postlab is a Mac app that lets you collaborate on Final Cut Pro X libraries.

Postlab enables FCP X users to share libraries, track and save changes, and make sure no more than one person is working on the same library simultaneously. Now, there was one thing missing with Postlab and that was media sharing, and that is where Postlab Drive comes in.

Cloudy with a chance of rain

Hedge originally tried to help Postlab teams with advice on how to best set up their existing cloud storage solutions through Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive, for a remote editing workflow. Unfortunately, customers were running into issues such as erratic upload and/or download speeds, file size limitations, unpredictable latency, and non-public data caps that incur a speed penalty after a certain number of downloads per day.

To make “prosumer” clouds work reliably for video production you could turn to a process of cloning your cloud drive in full to a local disk, and keep it in sync with a tool like rsync. However, in reality, this results in heavy overnight syncing, which is far from real-time collaboration.

Clearing Skies

Hedge eventually came to the conclusion that you don’t want cloud storage, you want to work remotely as if you’re in the office using shared storage. They had to come up with a way to make remote shared storage behave like it’s local storage. It also needed to be something that Finder can work with, and that has a clear price tag. So this is what Postlab Drive needed to have:

  • Built for media
  • Reliable speed, low latency
  • Behaves like local storage
  • Predictable pricing

Partnerships

Hedge set about to build a cloud drive that acts as if it’s a hard drive sitting next to you on your desk. Coming up with something entirely new from scratch wasn’t a viable option, so they teamed up with partners to combine existing technologies into one-cloud-drive that could do the job.

Ideally, Hedge wanted block-based speed and object-based ease of use and not make it too costly. Chopping up files into blocks and storing those on object storage isn’t hard to do. Still, without the aforementioned initiator, the engine that recombines blocks into files, it’s useless – plus a cache controller, because you don’t want to keep redownloading media.

So, to build a cloud drive specifically for media production, Hedge needed multiple moving parts: block-based storage with multiple worldwide locations, an initiator, a cache controller, access management, and a very easy way for non-customers to move data into and out of the cloud without needing a subscription.

Hedge wanted Drive to be a flat fee product. That means they needed a cloud vendor that did not have egress cost as its business model. That typically means one that aims at semi-archiving media, or Tier 3 cloud storage, but with a backend that is built to perform like it’s Tier 2 like AWS has.

Here is where Wasabi came in. Wasabi focues on Tier 3-type customers, but have an architecture that is more like Tier 2. By working with Wasabi, Hedge is able to offer truly low latency, no download caps, no minimum storage period, no fair use policy, and no speed limitations.

They then turned to Filespaces (a technology of Lucidlink), that builds on top of object storage, and lets your computer act as the initiator.

Postlab then manages all technical aspects such as credentials, configuration, updates, security, cache management, and drivers.

So what about speed?

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Time it takes, in seconds, to upload a 4.2 GB R3D clip, and download it again on another Mac

When it comes to doing a roundtrip of uploading and download a clip, Drive’s speed is on par with Frame.io, and it is about twice as fast as Google Drive, and about 3x as fast as Dropbox and OneDrive.

In reality, you don’t even have to wait that long before a clip has downloaded. As soon as the first few MBs have been downloaded, you can playback a clip. That’s what makes Drive truly unique.

Drive Thru

Getting data in and out of the cloud is maybe even more important than being able to work with the data when it has been uploaded. As a Postlab Drive user, you can drag files into Drive with Finder, and they’ll start uploading immediately. That makes it easy for teams, but what about your clients?

For your clients, it’s always a lot more hassle. They always need help or need to get an account, get a subscription, or they end up with a myriad of time-killing questions. Once the customer has finally managed to upload assets, you still need to spend time finding it and moving it to a location where you can work with it.

That’s why Drive has something called Drive Thru. In a way, it is like Hedge’s own WeTransfer.

Drop Off & Pick Up

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With Drop Off, you bookmark a folder on Drive and Postlab creates a direct link to it, that you then give to your client. Uploads go straight into that folder, right where your NLE expects them to be. You won’t even have to leave your NLE to start editing.

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Pick Up is the opposite of Drop Off. You pick a folder on Drive, and send your customer a direct link to download its contents. Even if you make a change after sending the link, the customer always gets the latest version.

If you or your customer have too much data to upload, you can also send Hedge your storage devices and have them do the heavy lifting, for free.

Kyno, MASV, & Iconik

Hedge is smart enough to realize that not everyone will be using the same tool, so they set about to integrate with other available solutions that already exist.

Kyno’s Drill Down feature on the desktop lets you, well, drill down a Drive and detect all media that’s buried deep inside. Drill Down for Postlab Drive ups the ante: it fetches metadata, creates thumbnails, and creates the sidecars Kyno uses – all before you even open Kyno on your desktop. Have a DIT upload media to Drive on-set with Drop Off, and as soon as your AE opens Kyno to tag and process the media, it’s all already there.

MASV helps out in those cases where you need to get data into the hands of editors as fast as possible. Set up a Postlab Portal in MASV, and you can have anyone upload media straight to Drive.

This is a little different from how Drop Off works. The key difference is that Drop Off always uploads directly into Drive. So what does this mean? Well, if Postlab Drive is on Hedge’s SF servers, and you’re for instance in LA, it will be fast. However, if you’re in Amsterdam, it obviously will take longer. The differnce when using MASV is that you upload to the MASV server that is physically closest to you, and then MASV picks an accelerated path to your Drive server location. Hedge’s own tests show it’s at least twice as fast, so that should help a lot if you’re shooting in the middle of nowhere and still need to get clips to editorial.

Postlab Drive’s integration with Iconik is similar to Kyno’s. It turns Drive into an Iconik Storage Gateway. When media gets uploaded to Drive, Drive will convert your media into proxies for use in Iconik.

What about security?

Postlab Drive offers extensive security, on several levels. The team has built a tiered security system, consisting of multiple moving parts.

Your Postlab Drive credentials are separate from your Postlab credentials, and automatically renewed on a more-than-daily basis. Your Postlab credentials work as decryption keys for your team’s Drive credentials, but not before Postlab checks if you actually still have access. Even better, you don’t have direct access to your Drive credentials – you always have to log into Postlab first, to reach the next layer.

  • LucidLink’s “Zero Knowledge” encryption model ensures that without access to a file’s metadata, the blocks are useless blobs of data.
  • Wasabi’s SOC-2 and ISO 27001, and IAM policies.
  • Bring your own S3 – instead of using our storage backend, bring your own. You foot the bill for the storage and only pay a little premium for Drive’s functionality.

How do I get Drive?

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Drive is available as of today, for all Postlab users, and also for non-Postlab users. Even if Postlab’s collaboration tools are not what you need, Drive can still help you in many ways. Postlab is already included with Drive – everyone that just needs Drive, also gets access to Postlab Solo.

Price

Drive comes as part of Postlab. Here are the prices for Postlab plans:

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