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Tutorial: Avid NEXIS | PRO With axle Starter Media Management

Art of the Cut author Steve Hullfish demos how to use axle Starter for media management and metadata-enhanced proxy screening with Avid NEXIS | PRO.

While producing this tutorial I've been on location editing with Avid Media Composer and an Avid NEXIS | PRO set up in a trailer on the set. And I've editing from my apartment near set with multiple Media Composer systems set up, which means I can be editing while the other systems are handling assistant editor work and things like ingest and transcoding. Since the system doesn't require a lot of IT or infrastructure, I’ve able to handle moving it from place to place and set up myself, and I'm not a technical guy.

Getting Started With axle Starter

This 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 and the new Pro Team bundles that include the NEXIS | PRO. 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 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 UI

It'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.

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The Avid NEXIS | PRO has all the features that Avid's big NEXIS shared storage solutions have, but scaled down for producers with smaller shops but the same need for reliability and sharing functionality that makes NEXIS popular with bigger studios.