Cloud Pod and Cloud Store Mini Review
After using them extensively for the last few weeks, I can say the Cloud Pod and Cloud Store Mini will be a big part of my editing workflow from here on out. Here are my thoughts.
At NAB this year, Blackmagic announced a bunch of entertaining Cloud-related updates to Resolve and some really intriguing storage tools that I was lucky enough to get my hands on.
Network-attached storage tools weren’t on my card for Blackmagic release bingo this year, that’s for sure. But, after learning about all of their cloud-based initiatives, it makes sense.
With the 8TB Cloud Store Mini, the available pre-order Cloud Store, and the small but mighty Cloud Pod, Blackmagic has entered the storage space in their usual fashion, relatively affordable and robust tools with features expanding beyond what you might typically expect.
I’ve been in the market for good file storage and sharing system that works specifically for me. I won’t lie to you; I get a bit sleepy when people start talking to me about NAS setups, networking things, backups on the cloud, and whatnot.
For this reason, I’ve got an actual mountain of hard drives lying around with scribbled and taped-on labels of what project is on which one. It’s not a good system, and I’m not proud of it. I just hadn’t found a solution in my price range that I thought I could set up correctly.
So when Blackmagic asked if I’d give these things a try, I jumped at it. It seems to be an excellent solution for many people, including me. These products serve as a gateway to the cloud and a local file repository. My favorite aspect is the ability to use them however you want, in whatever way works best for you.
The Cloud Pod Should Be Part Of Every DIT Cart
The Cloud Pod is a really clever device. It allows you to turn any compatible drive into Network Attached Storage (or NAS).
This design is particularly clever because many people use SSDs with their Blackmagic cameras as recording media. This means once you’ve got an SSD filled up, you can unplug it, stick it in the cloud pod (which would likely have another larger drive plugged into it), and start backing up your footage and proxies to the cloud immediately.
If you’re on a set with good internet, you can have proxies to your editors within moments. The process is astonishingly fast using the Proxy Generator software that is now part of every Resolve 18 download.
You don’t necessarily have to use a second backup drive with the cloud pod if you want to. You could use it as a cloud backup tool only if you wanted.
You just set up a watch folder on your machine using the Proxy Generator software, and then once you plug in a drive and start adding footage there, it will automatically make proxies while your Cloud Pod begins to send files to Dropbox.
However, you can also go ahead and attach a much larger drive to this and use it as a malleable and expandable NAS (Network Attached Storage).
An exciting addition to both the Cloud Pod as well as the Cloud Store Mini is an HDMI output. This doesn’t have any media ingesting capability; in reality, it’s a video feed that provides useful information about the status of your storage and cloud-related operations.
You get a live view of your cloud transfers, internet connectivity, and which portions of the data are being accessed via a live view of each of the various data buckets. They flash and flicker when in use, and you can visually tell how much of your drive has been utilized.
I love that you can also keep tabs on your dropbox transfers. While most home-users of the product won’t find a ton of use for this feature, I can see post-houses and DITs in the field finding this information quite useful on the fly (not to mention it just looks pretty cool).
I intend to use the cloud pod mainly in the field, whether on set or during travel. A little cloud sync and proxy machine allow you to get your footage in a safe place, especially with the right internet to back it up.
The Cloud Store Mini Does It All
The Cloud Store Mini brings all of the same functionality as the Cloud Pod; it just has 8TB of storage built into it. This kind of makes it quite worthwhile for a bunch of different applications.
It’s the perfect on-set footage dump drive, which, again, can sync directly to the cloud and store proxies generated by Proxy Generator. A really useful configuration would be to have one of these and then a regular external USB drive, back up your footage on both and have the Cloud Store Mini generating proxies and syncing your footage to the cloud. With the proper internet connection, you’ll be amazed at how seamless the whole thing is.
It’s also the perfect project storage drive for your home network as well. It has a 10GB Ethernet port (1GB), so the read/write speeds are something to behold on the right network.
I think I’ll likely use it as a place to store any active project’s camera originals while a project is being edited and edited off of proxies from the cloud. Then once the project is done, I’ll back it up to cold storage on the cloud or something like that. I’ll probably keep all of my most commonly used assets and elements, like video overlays, motion graphics templates, sound design stuff, etc. Keeping a dropbox copy of all those things seamlessly is quite helpful.
I think more than anything, I feel like Blackmagic will continue expanding this functionality into the future. Especially as the Cloud Store is on the way soon, with much higher storage capacity going as high as 320TB.
Every post-house I’ve ever been involved with has bemoaned its storage system, whether it was NAS or the aforementioned mountain of external drives. I feel like a plug-and-play, cloud-ready solution like this is very much what everyone has needed.
I love these things and how they all fit and work together. It’s a complete solution to a probably and an entire ecosystem from gathering the data, storing the data, and then editing it on free cloud-enabled software with anyone on the planet. It’s quite an impressive first brush-stroke at this Blackmagic Cloud Eco-system that I can’t wait to see develop further as the Cloud features in Resolve become increasingly part of everyday editing workflows.
Cover image via Grusho Anna.
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