I started my adventure with creative artwork in photography.
Once I bought my first digital camera, Nikon D100, I embraced programs like Photoshop Camera RAW or Lightroom. Not only could I edit pictures with them but also manage thousands of photos in an easy way.
When I transitioned to filmmaking and eventually editing, I was disappointed to see that filmmakers don’t have a go-to media management app everyone seems to use on a daily basis.
Here my quest began. I started looking for media asset management (MAM) software designed specifically for videos to make my workflow more efficient and enjoyable.
Today I want to show you one of those. A product developed by SNS, the company behind EVO shared storage servers. It’s called ShareBrowser, and it has been rebuilt from the ground up this past year to address many of the feature requests they got from their clients.
ShareBrowser is primarily designed for teams of editors working on projects simultaneously e.g. with features like Premiere Pro Productions.
It has a modern design that's easy to use, plus many new features and improvements that make editors’ lives easier. And it comes included with the EVO media server, so you don’t have to pay extra to organize the media you’re storing. Here are my top 5 features of the new ShareBrowser MAM system.
1. Automatically generated, downloadable proxies
The first one is an option to easily download the preview files that EVO generates for you in the background. It has always been a feature of any EVO configured with the Slingshot automation engine, but now you can access that preview file with two mouse clicks.
These preview files work great as proxies you can use for a remote workflow (read more about remote editing with EVO and Nomad) or editing on a slower machine. And now you can access them from your browser as well. This brings us to number two, which is the ShareBrowser web app.
2. Web App & Interface
The ShareBrowser media asset management app can be accessed not only locally, but also through the web. So you can add tags, comments, etc. from anywhere you are.
Now both the local install and the web app have a user-friendly and modern user interface. Both look pretty much the same.
The web version is just a bit restricted because not all of the features can be translated to this platform. Still, the ShareBrowser web app allows you to comment, add tags, create preview files, download those proxy-ready clips, and so on, without direct access to media. That’s truly amazing.
We can also toggle between the List and Gallery View both locally and in the Web App. Both are useful depending on what kind of metadata you need to access and how visual you are.
Personally, I like the List view more because I learn about a clip before I even click on it.
Something I really like that is available through the full software client is the copy, paste & verify feature. I run it in cases I really want to make sure that what I copied is exactly the same as for the source.
And once I’m done adding tags, client name, etc. we have a lot of exporting options to choose from. We can export metadata to an XML file or send logged footage to NLE, whether it’s Premiere Pro, Resolve, Final Cut Pro, etc.
A side note: there’s also the Share Browser Premiere Pro panel that basically gives you access to your MAM within your editing workspace. You don’t have to switch between programs to import your logged footage into a working project.
3. Metadata fields
There’s also a great feature of automatic tagging based on AI (artificial intelligence) computer learning algorithms. Imagine how you could add metadata and keywords to hundreds of hours of videos in an automated way. Objects and activities in the scenes are automatically identified and are easily searchable by anyone with access to the ShareBrowser database. Amazing feature.
To use it you have to have an Amazon AWS account, and since EVO uploads proxies to Amazon to enable its Rekognition tool to work, you’ll be charged by Amazon based on how much data will be processed. But because they’re sending specially sized proxies, this shouldn’t be expensive.
And as expected, filtering features utilize not only tags but also comments and metadata. So things like name, codec, frame rate, modified date, resolution, and so on are all searchable in the media asset management system.
We can even add custom metadata fields. They can be both text type and list type which can include multiple-choice lists.
This is a very cool way of adding categorization and data that is specifically important to you and your projects and footage. In this new update adding and managing these custom fields is easier than ever.
4. Offline and Archived Status
A completely new feature in ShareBrowser is showing media status with file transparency. If a given file is offline it will appear as transparent.
A tape icon status will also show you if a file has been archived to LTO with ShareBrowser’s StorageDNA integration. You can even restore these files with one click of a mouse. If you archive in the cloud, your cloud volumes with Amazon S3 and other cloud storage options are also searchable in ShareBrowser.
It's nice to know that the software can manage media across multiple systems, both on-premise and in the cloud.
Both local and web versions of ShareBrowser allow us to create bins. They are like virtual folders you can organize your files into. Bins can be private for a given user or shared with other collaborators. Essentially, bins are a way to categorize and share files without copying or moving them.
For me, it’s a great way of collecting reusable broll clips I record for my YouTube videos. For example, for my standing desk video, I knew I would want to reuse some of these clips in future videos. But I didn’t want to copy them to each project’s folder. ShareBrowser’s Bins solve this challenge masterfully.
What’s new with bins? You can now use them with Nomad, a piece of software created by SNS that allows for easy remote workflows.
Basically, Nomad allows you to pick a location you need to download proxy files from (like a ShareBrowser bin or a Premiere Pro project file) and it does all the heavy lifting for you. So even if your files are across multiple volumes, Nomad will quickly find them for you and download them to your remote location. The main advantage is that it retains the original structure of those source files when they're retrieved locally.
Let’s say I'm going on vacation with my family in a couple of weeks. I can download all the media for my project in advance and take it with me so that I'm not taking up tons of space on my machine with source media or trying to connect back to my server from a different country.
That’s what I like about the new release of ShareBrowser the most. There are other improvements like new Preferences options, etc., but they are more cosmetic changes.
Watch the following video for more details:
Also, let me tell you what I’d love to see in the next release.
Firstly, I’d love to see a Smart Bins feature. Meaning bins that are being updated in real-time based on a user-specified rule or query.
And secondly, a default cloud storage for preview files (like something that Adobe has as part of their subscription plan). I would just love to be able to get access to preview files from anywhere in the world even if the EVO unit is down.
I’m only suggesting these improvements because as someone who already loves these five ShareBrowser features, I want to love it even more 🙂
So... Does ShareBrowser fill that gap I felt when transitioning from photography to filmmaking? It definitely does.
I only wish they release a standalone version one day. Maybe then we’ll be able to talk about a go-to solution for managing media for video enthusiasts. At the moment you have to buy into an ecosystem though which makes it more professionals-centric.
Have you ever used MAM software? What are your favorite features that you just cannot live without? Let me know in the comments!
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