NAB 2018 – Michael Dexter’s Recap


April 20, 2018

It was exhilarating to attend NAB with Rius Chua and David Valencia not only for the amazing technology but also because I quite literally grew up in a Hollywood production studio. It was great to see that Fisher dollies have not changed in half a century and to catch up with my uncle who was exhibiting his company’s line of focus assist systems. If the Bauhaus school of design declared that, “The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building!”, I will argue that M&E production is the ultimate aim of technology: A modern movie relies on technology directly derived from aeronautics, supercomputing, and genetics in service of the timeless goal of telling a more compelling story. You may not know that “Bullet Time” in the first Matrix film was rendered on FreeBSD but it should come as no surprise that OpenZFS is becoming very popular in Hollywood for end-to-end digital video production from initial capture through editing, and on to long-term archiving. In short, OpenZFS, TrueNAS, and digital video are a match made in heaven.
That said, the iXsystems logo on my shirt was all it took to get editors and vendors to instantly open up with praise for TrueNAS, FreeNAS, and iXsystems. From a vendor proudly showing netdata realtime performance telemetry on FreeNAS to a presenter instantly including iXsystems in their demo, word about iXsystems’ open storage and transparent approach to business is absolutely getting around. “Oh we use FreeNAS!” was a common introduction and is a testament to just how deep the open source storage OS is infiltrating M&E organizations of all sizes. Editors with TrueNAS storage arrays in their edit bays also reached out with stories of the great performance they’re seeing and how comforting it is to know that OpenZFS is routinely verifying the integrity of their digital assets.

FreeNAS Netdata on display which gives you a single pane of glass into FreeNAS performance data

Turning to the competition, NAB gave me a perfect opportunity to ask other storage vendors to give me their worst on positioning themselves against TrueNAS. To my pleasant surprise, the many scale-out solutions like Panasas and Pure Storage represented fundamentally-different approaches designed to meet use cases, such as company-wide, single namespace access to assets. The remainder were cloud providers each busy distinguishing themselves from Amazon S3, plus Other World Computing which was running FreeNAS. It turns out that as projects grow in size exponentially and 8K video takes hold, digital asset storage will forever ebb and tide between single-user and centralized with the only hard and fast rule being “MORE!
To learn more about TrueNAS and M&E workflows, visit
Michael Dexter, Senior Analyst

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