At a glance:
- Project management and collaboration tool
- Creates order from chaos in file-based workflows
- Intuitive interface so that little training is required
- forces consistent naming conventions and locations
- Server + software tool with backup and archive integration
Who is it for:
- any facility with multiple users, projects, and lots of files to manage
- perfect for editorial, VFX, and graphics workflows
- ideal for sports, long form, documentary, promos, episodic, reality TV, and more
- any project that repeats, has multiple versions, and has fast turnaround requirements
What problems can be solved:
- reduces file management time
- reduces if not eliminates file loss and downtime
- reduces search times
- reduces training time for new creative staff
- 3 clicks to find any file fast
Introduction to Focal Point Server
Alongside the increase in use of centralised storage systems, enquiries to Digistor for products or software to manage media are increasing. As media creation companies reap the value from new collaborative file-based workflows for film and TV production, they are finding that the simple tools bundled with central storage systems are no longer sufficient to keep track of the ever-growing number of assets under their control.
FocalPoint Portal to pool ideas and discuss
Most people ask me if a "MAM"- a media asset manager- is the solution to getting more control over file management. MAM - and PAM (production asset management) systems - do of course go a long way to solving workflow dilemmas and offer many layers of control and "forced organisation" that can streamline and more importantly automate the overall workflow.
But sometimes a facility does not need all of the specialist tools that today's MAM solutions provide, nor can all of our customers see the value in the often expensive starting price for many of these MAM platforms.
When we are asked to analyse the needs of these type of clients, we define the core problems being faced first, and then choose the solution that solves as many of their workflow issues as can be compressed into their budget.
More often the problems relate simply to basic file management issues. These can include:
- No structure for naming convention for projects, files names, folders, or metadata fields
- Messy folders: users are not quite sure where to put files so they each make their own folders as a way of ensuring that they will be able to "re-find" their files.
- Duplicated folders and files: once people start using collaborative storage, they seem to get a little paranoid -rightly or wrongly - that their files could be moved or deleted by other users. Unfortunately some software tools on the market allow automated image version updates, causing some apprehension by editors that their work might be changed or "unlinked" by other people. Users start to make copies of folders and files as if to "hide" them away for their own use. This is particularly troublesome for management, as the storage consumed increases exponentially as the months pass. Duplication means exactly that- doubling of storage needs. That becomes an expensive lesson very quickly.
There are of course many other problems that we see pop up regularly. Most are due to no workflow policy being enforced, no structure on the project storage, and no way of controlling individual user's actions on a day to day basis. You can't always blame the storage administrator or the editors/artists themselves. They are doing what they feel is best to get the project complete.
The solution? Enter FocalPoint Server.
FocalPoint Server Final Cut Pro X Collaboration
The developers of Focal Point Server also develop MAM solutions, so they already know the pain points that we all suffer in media workflows. Focal Point Server was designed specifically to solve ongoing file management issues for the BBC's sports department, and is now available for all customers to reap the benefits.
What exactly is it? FocalPoint Server is a new way to create, version, track and search all your editing projects, graphics and documents, providing a simple, intuitive user interface which eliminates confusion.
Focal Point Server's slogan is "Collaboration Defined". That sums it up well. Collaborative workflows are the most efficient ways to complete large projects, and many companies address this with storage and software to allow many editors and artists to work on the same projects at the same time. But that could be considered only half the battle, as generally these solutions do not always define - or better still force - a specific workflow method.
The value proposition
Focal Point Server's (FPS) value is evident in these benefits:
Pre-define specific workflow genres. Using a template-style application that defines folder, file and metadata naming conventions, users simply drag'n'drop files into the FPS windows to automatically import files, add specific metadata required for the job, and place them into the correct folders. Files can also be transcoded automatically on import through integration with third party encoders such as Content Agent from root6
Consistent File Naming and save locations. The available selections for files labelling are only available via a drop down menu in the interface. These are customised by the system administrator. Once files are imported, everybody knows exactly where to find files for specific projects and genres - for ever! The metadata schema is pre-set so there are no wrong entries, and no misspelling. Sample schemas are available on the Focal Point Server website for many genres of production, offering a great starting point for your facility's workflow design.
Consistent and repeatable file search Users can start their shift by logging on to FPS and instantly see the status of projects, and where to find the projects and files they need to work on. They can take these files to their respective creative applications such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Premiere, and VFX and graphics packages such as Maya, Nuke or Hiero and be assured that the files retain the metadata schema that has been created. Neat!
Error free versioning It's commonplace for editors to get hung up knowing the version of a project or sequence that they are supposed to be working on. FPS makes it pretty obvious immediately what is the right version. In addition, a system of approval tracking and permissions is built into the app so that access to files is only available when users are required to access them.
Status updates and notifications Users can communicate through FPS so that everyone in the workgroup can see at a a glance what is going on- at what stage are specific versions, episodes, and projects at at that time. Email notifications can be automatically set as the project and files reach pre-set milestones.
Archive Integration FPS integrates with many of the popular archive solutions for F&TV. In addition, there is an API available allowing more tech savvy customers to create the required software integration with their other workflow tools. Examples of valuable integration would be automated transcoding and QA workflows.
Social Media Workflow An optional FPS Portal for sharing ideas and comments is available. Users add their information on their mobile devices for the optimal collaboration workflow.
Low training requirements Many of the staff you employ are not engineers or data wranglers. They just want to know what buttons to click to do what they need to do, and they don't want to have to design a workflow to match each different job. FPS does all of the hard stuff so that your artists and editors can simply do the job they are best at. You can wipe hours off the tedious job of training a new editor or freelance operator in your specific ways for the project at hand.
In summary, FocalPoint Server can expand effortlessly to accommodate millions of projects, maintaining a central database of all file and project data, ensuring workflows are super-efficient and saving you and your teams time and money. It is certainly worth the time to consider for streamlining your workflow and minimising/eliminating many of the chances for error found in common collaborative workflows.
FocalPoint Server overview video
Focal Point Server is available with hardware server and software as:
- Workgroup version - a maximum of 15 users and 5 workspaces, or
- Enterprise version with no limit on users or workspaces (base bundle comes with 5 users and 5 workspaces, fully expandable)
Users Licenses for both versions are sold in packs form 5 to 100 users. Additional workspaces can be purchased.
- High Availability: adds an additional server with complete failover capability
- Archive Module: QLS Archive is the essential middleware that communicates with both the Workflow Management Tool and the Archive in order to ensure a failsafe and clear archive and restore process. In addition, using the new web archive interface, users can add clips folders or entire projects to a "Jobs Basket" to request the restore of files.
- Portal Module: adds a social media-like collaboration tool to bridge the gulf between production and post-production.
Focal Point Server supports Mac, Windows and Linux clients.
Please contact Digistor for a no-obligation assessment of your specific production requirements.