“Our QNAP NAS servers gave our rolling Expedition Blue Planet 2010 team the ability to easily and securely store, edit, and share our HD tour video footage on the go, enabling us to keep our many followers up-to-date on our adventure to study critical water issues in North America,” - Michael Duff, a post-production engineer for Blue Legacy
Blue Legacy is an initiative started in 2008 by Alexandra Cousteau (grand-daughter of legend Jacques-Yves Cousteau) to engage individuals around the world through telling the story of our water planet.
Presently, Alexandra Cousteau and her international Expedition Blue Planet team are on a 138 day, 14,500-mile journey across North America on a bio-diesel powered bus with to investigate global water issues "in the backyard" of one of the world’s leading economies.
The entire adventure is being captured via HD video and tour footage is shot, edited, and shared with the public via the Blue Legacy website and popular social media.
Traveling over 14,500 miles around North America and producing quality media in real-time presented Alexandra and the crew with many unique challenges. The production facility for the expedition was built into the rear of the expedition bus (formerly Senator McCain's "Straight Talk Express"). Along with the usual challenges and needs of film production, secure storage for tour footage and real-time communications with external media outlets – the crew also needed to make sure this all worked while traveling along the highway at 80mph, in a variety of terrains and climates including deep canyons, mountains and coastal beaches.
The post-production crew needed an efficient way to store the valuable tour footage that was being brought in from 3 High Definition camera crews every day of the expedition. A group of QNAP NAS servers seemed the logical approach as they offer very high online storage capacity, secure data redundancy via RAID, and the ability to share the footage with others in a controlled way. Here are some of the key benefits the QNAP NAS servers afforded us:
High Speed Shared Storage
Shared networked storage was essential to the expedition as at least 2 operators would be capturing or editing large amounts HD video at any one time. The NAS allowed additional operators to easily join the network with their laptops to access and contribute files. The rights management system also allowed us to secure our video files as only those only with the correct privileges could access the files, and we could even define if specific users could only view files or make changes. While we primarily use Apple MacBook Pro laptops, knowing that we could also share files with Windows or Linux computers gave us peace of mind.
Redundancy / Replication
Redundancy was also of the highest importance. As the content we were filming was of the highest value to the expedition, we needed to ensure the safety of the video footage. Three of our QNAP NAS units are configured for RAID 5 – and each of our units uses the Remote Replication function to mirror the data to another QNAP NAS on the same network. This ensures if there is a catastrophic failure in one NAS the data is secure in the other unit, which can also be brought online instantly and overtake the workload without missing a beat.
We also needed units that were rugged and easily transportable on and off the bus, units that were not rack mounted and, easily adaptable to different working environments. It was also of most importance that the units that were easy to set-up and operate as we did not have a network administrator onboard the bus. Even with our limited networking knowledge, we didn't encounter any major problems installing and operating these NAS units in an all-Mac environment.