Sharing video between workstations

DAS vs NAS is possibly the most boring pay per view fight ever.

But all jokes aside, knowing the difference between those two things has proven to be absolutely vital in providing on-set workflow solutions as it allows me to provide complex data wrangling and DIT solutions with minimal effort.

So, what’s the difference?

DIRECT ATTACHED STORAGE (DAS) are storage devices directly attached to a single computer.

They cannot be used by another unless moved from one computer to another as is the case on-set with “shuttle drives”.

Examples include CD / DVD / Bluray drives, external and internal HDDs, SSDs, thumb drives, SD cards, etc.

NETWORK ATTACHED STORAGE (NAS) are storage devices accessed through a shared network.

These use the same storage technology as found in DAS devices but are managed by a server and connected to a shared network.

Typically they’ll be designed for continual use by multiple users. When using cloud storage these are what your data is stored on.

In short NAS devices act as a bridge between different computers allowing data stored on them to be distributed across multiple devices, and even accessed remotely through the web.

This means I can use one computer to transfer video from a camera’s cards/drives to the NAS and then, once that has finished transferring, another computer will automatically “see” the files without any need for importing or copying them onto it’s own storage.

Pretty handy, right?

How does that apply to a DIT?

On-set post is an extremely CPU intensive task with some of the basic expected tasks (dailies creation) using up every bit of power a workstation can offer up. This means if you’re transcoding and the DoP, producer, or other crew member asks to see footage then you either have to stop transcoding or tell them to wait… which in my opinion isn’t acceptable.

Some software like Davinci Resolve can split a workload between different GPUs which gives you the ability to multitask. But not all software can do that. That is why I prefer to have dedicated workstations for different tasks.

NETWORKED ATTACHED STORAGE shares that footage among those networked workstations allowing them to work together.

Networked storage gives you options

Obviously the specifics of how that is done depends on the workflow a production requires (QC’ing and colour grading before transcoding for example) but the core message is that it gives me plenty of options without being bogged down by technical limitations.

This allows me to provide multiple services that would have usually required different people charging separate rates.