Sony Electronics will introduce their new Rough Cut Advanced Video Editing Storage kit next year — the kit is designed to simplify the workflow process for Mac-based video editors.
In fact, Rough Cut — which is built around the Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) data storage format — is designed specifically for post-production work using Macs. It’s compatible with Final Cut Pro, as well as selected software from Avid, Adobe, Media 100, and DigiDesign. Rough Cut requires a Power Mac G3, Mac OS X 10.2, or Mac OS 9.x. The solution lets editors collect, back up and archive their work throughout the editing process by storing all their project elements together as data files.
“We’ve found that many video editors in the prosumer level and at small video production companies — and even in some high-end video companies — aren’t saving their work in progress,” Kevin Handerson, director of marketing for Sony Electronics’ Business Solutions and Systems Company told MacCentral. “They spend a lot of time going from camera masters or other source materials, such as graphics and titles, collecting different elements and loading them into their systems. They do lots of digitizing and transferring from several different sources before even beginning to edit.”
That wastes time, he added. However, there’s also a risk that if project is interrupted or needs changing later, editors will end up having to recollect and reload all the project elements. There’s no reason why those elements can’t be saved and stored together as digital data files. Then if work needs to be resumed or revised, editors can load a project with all of the pieces intact, Handerson explained. Because the materials are stored in data formats, there’s no loss in quality; the project is just as the editor left it.
The Rough Cut kit includes an AIT-2 drive with FireWire and USB 2.0 interfaces, Mezzo ES Generation 4 backup software for the Mac, two sample writable Sony DVDs and all necessary cabling.
The AIT-2 format featured in the original release has a maximum storage capacity of 50GB native per 8mm tape cartridge and a native data transfer rate of 6MB per second. The AIT-2 drive can also use smaller capacity AIT-1 tapes (25 or 35GB native) and AIT-2 tapes (36GB native) for smaller projects. Rough Cut comes with 10 tapes: three 50GB, three 36GB, three 25GB, and one cleaning cassette. Extra tapes will be available from Sony pro video dealers.
“The tapes were optimized for IT purposes, so they’ll last at least 30 years,” Handerson said. “Even then, the signal may weaken, but since it’s a digital signal, the content won’t degrade and can be copied onto another tape.”
Mezzo ES Generation 4 software boasts a drag-and-drop interface that lets users automatically back up digital files to free space on their systems, while preserving their ability to review and edit earlier sessions. The software is also capable of backing up single files up to 2TB, which is equivalent to two broadcast-quality movies.
“With the Rough Cut system, what video editors are really doing is similar to what computer users do when backing up material,” Handerson said. “However, video material is so big, storage solutions tend to fill up really quickly. Once they’ve gone through the process of collecting and creating project elements, it’s tempting for editors to throw material away to make room for the next project. Video work can be copied onto backup tapes. However, the key to editing decisions is timecoding. When a video project is loaded into a computer, the timecoding is assigned by the editing software and used to understand and save editing decisions. If you threw away project files and then reloaded them from, say, master camera files later, a new timecode would be assigned that almost 100 percent of the time wouldn’t match the original.”
Why has no one released a system such as this for video editors before now?
“Part of the reason is that many videographers don’t think of their work as data,” Handerson said. “It’s video, not data files. Of course, there are a few editors who are very savvy on the computer side and big users such as network TV stations who have certainly backed up their work. And you can buy all the key elements that are in Rough Cut separately. But no one else has put them together in a kit like this before.”
The Mezzo backup software is Mac only, which is why the Rough Cut solution is Mac only. The software tells you how many tapes you need to back up a project and keeps track of what data is on which tapes.
“If there’s sufficient market interest, there’s the possibility that we’ll offer a PC compatible version,” Handerson said. “However, Mezzo in conjunction with AIT technology offers users tremendous benefits.”
Sony’s initial AIT-2-based Rough Cut video editing storage solution, identified by the model number RCUT210A/MAC, will be available in April 2003, and will be targeted at independent videographers, corporate A/V departments, and video production service firms. In June Sony plans to introduce an upgraded version of the Rough Cut kit using an AIT-3 drive to handle larger projects with a 100GB native capacity per tape and a 12MB/second sustained transfer rate. Like the AIT-2 drive, the AIT-3 drive can also read and write to previous generations of tape for extra flexibility, according to Handerson. Pricing will be announced later.
The upgraded kit is targeted at more time-sensitive users and longer form editors, such as post-production houses, television production, and similar users, Handerson added. Both solutions will initially be sold through selected Sony professional media dealers and system integrators. Sony currently offers a three-year limited warranty on drive hardware, as well as optional onsite service support and enhancement programs with its entire line of branded storage solutions.