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Blackmagic Design launches cloud solution, hardware for remote collaborative video post-production

Hardware maker Blackmagic Design unveiled a major expansion into the cloud for its do-everything DaVinci Resolve post-production software, announcing multiple expansions and five hardware devices designed to make remote collaboration, editing, review and sharing easier within its ecosystem.

The Australia-based company founder and CEO Grant Petty announced and demonstrated Blackmagic Cloud and related software and new hardware during a hour-plus video presentation on Tuesday.

He said Blackmagic Cloud would not use a subscription business model that locks in users to a specific ecosystem the more they use it, nor would Blackmagic track users’ data, two consumer pain points with many existing cloud services.

Instead, customers would pay $5 per month to create and host a shared library that can be used simultaneously by freelancers and other remote post-production creatives working on the specific project, such as color graders, video and sound editors, and visual-effects specialists. When the project is done, the work can be exported and the project closed, ending the fee.

The company is still determining a similar monthly price structure for a separate Presentations capability that will be built into the Cloud software. The Presentations component can be used for training and education as well as project reviews and approvals. It creates a shared Zoom-like meeting area that remains open and available for project collaborators during the life of the project.

In both cases, the freelancers/remote workers would only have to create their own Blackmagic Cloud ID and password to access, edit and collaborate on a project or watch/edit a presentation. Those accounts will be free.

“I think we have a better business model here; it’s actually free,” Petty said of the company’s software approach. “If you do well, maybe you’ll buy some of our hardware to do even more. For us to make money, you have to make money.”

The cloud functions will be built into the new hardware and into the major components of DaVinci Resolve, whose version 18 is now available in public beta for testing.

Among other functions designed to speed remote collaboration, the company is releasing a free separate program, Proxy Generator, that creates much smaller, editable versions of original content as they become available on a storage device. The proxies can be easily shared and moved around for editing work, then exported back for application to the final product.

Petty said the company had to design a new way for Resolve to handle proxies, but the new approach allows proxies to be consistently created and stored in ways that will make it easier for third-party programs to also take advantage of them.

Cloud-based collaboration for video production is a specialized and technically demanding variant of the cloud-based document sharing approach that undergirds programs such as Google’s GOOG +0.6% GDocs suite.

Companies such as, recently acquired by Adobe’s ADBE +1.2% Creative Cloud ecosystem, have leveraged cloud-based services to dramatically improve remote collaboration for video editors, visual effects artists, color graders, and their clients, managers, and colleagues. will be making its its own cloud product announcement later this week.

Unlike many software-based companies relying on cloud tools for their businesses, Blackmagic also is releasing six new hardware devices that can help power a company’s or individual’s cloud work.

At the heart of the initiative is the Cloud Store, an attached networked-storage device in a sleek black-and-silver tower enclosure similar to its external GPU units released a few years ago.

The Store, however, is optimized for hosting and managing big chunks of video and audio in its banks of fast SSD storage in a RAID 5 redundant array, four Ethernet ports capable of 10-Gigabyte throughput, and two more ports for slower 1-Gb networks.

The base model 20 terabytes of storage will retail for $9,595 and will be available later this quarter, with an 80-Tb model selling for $29,995. A version with a massive 320 terabytes of storage is on the way, though its pricing is still undetermined, Petty said.

The Cloud Store is pitched for larger companies handling multiple major projects, Petty said. Two related new pieces of hardware are focused on smaller companies and individuals.

One is the half-rack-sized Cloud Store Mini, which has 8 terabytes of capacity and costs $2,995, and features two 1-gigabyte ethernet connectors, USB and HDMI connectors.

An even smaller unit, the Cloud Pod, costs $395 and does not have any built-in storage, but includes USB connectors for two external discs and an HDMI connector for monitoring the pod’s work. It includes 10-Gb ethernet, and is of both a price and palm-sized design to appeal to a freelancer on a modest budget or a person working remotely who wants local file storage, review capabilities and privacy, Petty said.

All three Cloud devices arrive with built-in syncing compatibility with Dropbox, Petty said. The company is writing the required software to handle syncing with other online storage services, with Google Drive most likely the next added to the systems, Petty said.

Separately, the company announced a 4K version of its HyperDeck Extreme 8K HDR broadcast recording deck. The 4K HyperDeack is designed for live streaming and broadcasting operations among other productions that don’t need expensive high-end 8k video output. The 4K device will sell for $2,995 and will be available within a few weeks.

The company also announced a new desktop-based video-manipulation tool called the HyperDeck Shuttle HD. It has a slot for memory cards, HDMI, a jog wheel and other video-transport buttons, and support for several video codecs, including H.264, Apple AAPL -0.1% ProRes and DNx, as well as PCM and AAC audio. It even features a built-in teleprompter function. The $495 Shuttle is available now. Forbes

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