Art of the Cut author Steve Hullfish demos how to use axle Starter for media management and metadata-enhanced proxy screening with Avid NEXIS | PROBrought to you by Streaming Media Producer and Videoguys.com By Steve Hullfish
Getting Started With axle StarterThis tutorial is about a new partner for Avid called axle. axle is a very cool media management workflow company that has created a powerful and simple new system that is currently being shipped with the Avid NEXIS | PRO system and the new Avid Team Bundles. The system that you get included with Avid NEXIS | PRO is called axle Starter. You can upgrade or purchase their bigger, more robust, and full-featured systems, but I'm really impressed with what this one can do. Here's the way it works. Let's say you want a client, or a producer, or an assistant to have remote access to the media inside your Avid NEXIS | PRO or actually on any drive to be able to view files, manage them, add metadata to them, and communicate with you about that footage. That's what axle Starter does. People could even use a smartphone or an iPad to be able to screen proxy media on your Avid NEXIS | PRO, and add metadata to the proxies. The more powerful versions of Axle even allow you to do downloads and uploads of media over the system from remote locations. All of this client-side interaction is done through a simple browser interface. These remote users do not have direct access to the media on the Avid NEXIS | PRO. They're looking at proxies on the axle server, so your original media is safe. We're going to focus on Avid NEXIS | PRO in this video, but Axle can catalog and provide previews of all kinds of media, random photos, video, audio.
The Axle Starter UIIt's got a very simple UI. It allows you to completely customize metadata, whatever you want, however you want to have something be searchable. Once that metadata is in, your users can search that media basically as if you were using Google on the internet--a very flexible and powerful elastic search capability that gives both a quick, simple search or a very detailed complex set of search parameters. Basically, Axle indexes a media file location, like the workspaces in Avid NEXIS | PRO, and turns them into searchable catalogs that you can navigate through a web browser. There's no client-side software. How does this work? First, you need a Quad-Core Mac with at least 8 gigs of RAM, and Yosemite or better is the OS. This is great because you've probably upgraded one of your old editing systems, and you might have one of these old cheese-grater Macs lying around anyway. If not, you can pick them up pretty cheap. axle will even run on a Mac mini. This will be your axle server. You really don't want anything else being done on this axle server. The axle server needs to be connected to your Avid NEXIS | PRO, and also to the internet so it can connect to outside users. It's best if this is a hardware connection instead of WiFi. The software you need is on this cute, little USB thumb drive from Axle. Just pop it on the computer you want to use as a server. You'll have to download and run Java from Oracle's website first, just on the server. Then run the installer for axle. It'll require a restart. When you reboot, there'll be a little A logo on your desktop. Double-click that, and on your initial install, it'll ask you to create a user name and a password. It'll provide you with a Mac address of your computer, which you use to send to axle to get the individualized license for your system. You'll also be prompted to enter the path to the drive you want to start using as your first catalog. Being in Safari is helpful because it allows you to drag and drop locations from the finder into the text window for the file path name to automatically enter it. Power users can also get the path name from terminal, but that's a little bit above my pay grade. As I said, I'm not that technical. Once you've created your first catalog, and by catalog think drive location. A catalog can be made from any folder, or any drive, and it allows you to see, and manage, and have access to all of the media at that location.
Accessing the MediaOnce it's created, once you've pointed to the location, Axle immediately begins cataloging the footage and media at that location. This will start populating immediately, but it will take a while. For video, it's creating scrubbable H.264 proxies of every piece of media. This is one of the reasons you want the computer doing this to be doing little else but Axle. When the proxies are made, you can access them from the server computer, or any computer, or even a smart phone that has a web browser. Just enter the IP address of the server and backslash axle web into a browser, and you'll connect. Then enter the user and password and you'll be seeing the contents of a volume, Avid NEXIS | PRO, or folder anywhere with the ability to approve shots, comment on them, and add metadata. Another really cool thing is that even people without access to Axle can easily see files by sending them an email link that connects straight to the Axle server, so you don't have to upload videos to Dropbox, or Vimeo, or YouTube for clients to look at shots.
Archiving AbilitiesThe link looks just like the Axle interface and there's no exporting, or converting, or uploading necessary. To me, that's killer. Another feature I really like is the archiving abilities. Right from the Axle UI, you can archive specific shots or entire groups of shots to a pre-determined location, another drive, an LTO backup, the Cloud, whatever. Then delete the local media, but Axle will still maintain the proxies and metadata as if it was live, giving you this little icon to show that it's really offline. With the click of a button, you can restore that media back because Axle remembers where it was stored and brings the file back. Some of this remote access stuff made me a little bit nervous, but there are clear settings that allowed the administrator to limit user access to specific functions, so your media is always safe. In today's media environment, small shops have to compete with the big boys and try to get more done with less. Avid NEXIS | PRO and axle are a great step in that direction, delivering high-end functionality for a small-shop price. I never thought Avid NEXIS | PRO would be a solution that my company could use. It's really affordable. With its wealth of functions, I can't imagine life without it.
Avid NEXIS | PRO Team Bundles
Get professional-class shared storage for independent pros and small workgroups with the new Avid NEXIS | PRO "team" bundles.These bundles were designed to meet the needs of all production teams at incredible prices. There are 3 bundles available:
- Avid Pro Team - includes NEXIS |PRO, 2 axle Starter Media Management Licenses and 3 Perpetual licenses of Avid Media Composer
- Avid Premium Team - includes NEXIS |PRO, Dell N2024 switch, 2 axle Starter Media Management Licenses, Avid Artist DNxIO hardware I/O, 5 Perpetual licenses of Avid Media Composer, 1 License of Avid Pro Tools software and 1 year of Avid NEXIS |PRO support
- Avid Ultimate Team - includes everything in the Premium Team bundle with an upgrade to Pro Tools Native with OMNI I/O