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One of the big stumbling blocks for the acceptance of Final Cut Pro X with professional editors has been its use on shared storage. Apple have published a white paper of Xsan Best Practices, it makes interesting reading.

It has been a real problem, we have had numerous conversations with FCPX editors, facility houses and programme producers about its use (or non use) on shared storage. It has been perceived as an ideal tool for 'standalone edits' so this publication should go some distance into demystifying what you can and can't do with FCPX in a collaborative environment.

Final Cut Pro X: Xsan Best Practices White Paper.

We mustn't forget that Xsan now comes bundled into Lion, previously you had to stump up the better part of $1,000 per seat to use Apple's rebadged SAN software. You'll still need some heavy iron in the shape of RAIDS and (as suggested on the billing page) fibre channel connectivity, however the goal for us would be shared storage via Thunderbolt.

The document takes two different setups, sharing a singe project and event across multiple users (but not at the same time) and the other of two workstations using the same media.

Forget about the FCP7 way of working on a SAN by just opening up another editors' project and making a copy, this won't work as you are now dealing with a constantly updating database. For the first scenario it's all about opening and closing SAN locations, you can't have two editors with the same SAN location open.

The second scenario looks like it is dodging the problem by opening the SAN location, importing media, saving the event to another drive and then quitting the location. We can see this working for say two users, but when you have 10+ suites trying to access a growing folder of information, it isn't going to work.

If Apple say that the Event files are databases, then we would hope that they have a much more advanced and flexible system in the wings. A master file that would contain all the data, keywords, thumbnails etc is surely the only way to proceed from here, especially as the code from Final Cut Server might be in there.

We would really appreciate anybody chipping in here with their experiences of FCPX and Xsan so far. Would a YouTube tutorial be too much to ask? On a similar note, we hope to to have more information about transferring FCP7 shared storage over to Final Cut Pro X soon. - It will be an interesting journey, watch this space!

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