Note: Since I wrote this article, some time has passed. I recently released a free script to extract all kinds of metadata from Final Cut Server at http://moosystems.com/products/moofs-migration-tool/ and provide a commercial tool to automatically migrate your media, metadata and Final Cut Server productions to Cantemo Portal.
Many of us have been using Apple’s Media Asset Management solution Final Cut Server (FCSvr).
Despite its shortcomings like missing rough cut editor, no native tape support for archives, lack of decent UTF-8 level 3 support when importing and exporting XML files, even today, almost two years after its last update and more than six months after Apple has dropped it, Final Cut Server seems to be the best asset management and workflow automation system for FCP7 clients.
Yet, though Apple still sells Final Cut Studio (FCS), sooner or later it won’t run on the latest Apple hardware anymore, so we need to consider switching over to FCPX, Adobe Premiere, or probably Avid Media Composer as soon as Apple drops FCS support with their latest hardware.
Final Cut Server doesn’t support project files of these editors (apart from Premiere using FCP7 XML structures), so a big part of its functionality can’t be used with the latest editors. In addition, Apple won’t fix any FCSvr bugs anymore, so you can’t really add functionality to your FCSvr based workflows.
Long story short, you might want to consider replacing FCSvr with a modern Asset Management and Workflow Automation solution sooner or later.
Strawberry and FocalPoint focus on sharing project files, both FCP7 and Media Composer, but – at the time of this writing – don’t allow to preview individual media files. Both tools are absolutely great in what they do, especially because they are so easy to learn and to use.
CatDV and Cantemo try to cover more functionality, and in addition to sharing project files you can share and preview individual media files.
There are other MAMs as well, which might fit your needs, and it’s up to you to choose the best fit as successor of your existing FCSvr environment.
(Or ask me to help you finding the right MAM).
In most environments, you might want to migrate your existing FCSvr installation to your new system.
This might include at least these things:
- Link new MAM to your media files
- Copy metadata of all your media files into the new MAM
Optionally you might want to preserve information which assets belong to which FCP projects and FCSvr productions as well as reuse existing proxy files.
Squarebox provides a migration tool, which helps you migrate all these data from Final Cut Server to CatDV.
Most other vendors don’t provide a migration tool, so you need to extract data from FCSvr on your own and prepare them for an import to your new solution.
If for instance you’d like to migrate from FCSvr to Cantemo Portal DAM, one way to do this looks like this:
- Extract data from FCSvr. I use a script I wrote, which relies on fcsvr_client and exports an individual XML file per Asset. This XML file includes any metadata related to an asset. As an alternative you could set up an automation within FCSvr. (E.g. using “schedule”, which triggers a “Search Expired” response to find all assets and then triggers a “Write XML” response for each asset. This would give you the same result without using external scripts. See http://www.andre-aulich.de/en/perm/export-asset-metadata-from-final-cut-server-using-builtin-tools-only for more details.)
- -optional- If you need information which asset belongs to which FCP project and FCSvr production, I use a second script which gets this information from FCSvr, too.
- I use another script which transforms the FCSvr generated XML files into XML files Cantemo Portal DAM understands. (Or to be correct: Portal DAM relies on Vidispine as its backend, and the XML files will be interpreted by Vidispine).
- I rename each XML file (automated, of course), to match the name of the related media file, and place it in the same folder like the original media. This means that a file called mediafile1.mov will have an accompanying XML file called mediafile1.xml in the same folder.
- Now I point Portal DAM to the FCSvr media storage and tell it to automatically add all files found on that storage to its database. PortalDAM will automatically detect media related xml files and add the contained metadata to the assets.
Please note, that I don’t mention migrating existing proxy files, here. This is because Portal DAM works with an HTML5 interface, so we need our proxies to be in another format than on Final Cut Server (only if you need a preview, of course, but hey, that’s what proxy files are for).
If you need information where your proxy files reside, please get in touch with me, and I can calculate the paths to your proxy files for you, so that these proxies can either be linked to your new MAM or automatically moved to a place better suited for your new MAM.