OWC RADiO host Cirina Catania talks with Paul Matthijs, CEO of Hedge. Their solutions, Hedge (for multiple, check-sum backups), and Postlab (remote editors dream solution), are chugging away every day on our end to help us manage multiple copies of our data and communicate edits with our crew. Whether you are producing media for distribution to networks such as Netflix, managing media files for independent projects, or even just keeping your hard drives protected with organized backups, you’ll want to know more about this. (For more about Postlab, see our previous interview with Isaac Terronez).
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In This Episode
- 00:00 – Cirina introduces Paul Matthijs, the CEO of Hedge.
- 02:41 – Paul talks about Hedge, both as a company and an app.
- 09:20 – Paul explains about the ideas of checksums and duplicate detection in Hedge.
- 16:55 – Cirina asks Paul how he got involved with Hedge.
- 18:49 – Paul shares the best solution for storing and archiving files.
- 21:51 – Paul talks about how Hedge and Postlab merge, and the new features of the two apps.
- 26:55 – Paul shares how he got started in the tech world.
- 28:36 – Cirina and Paul encourage listeners to check out Hedge.video to know more about Hedge and Postlab. If listeners have more questions, they can email Hedge at email@example.com.
One guy works out of his corporate headquarters in Amsterdam and is speaking with us today about media management. That might sound like something that’s not important, but those little teeny tiny files that travel across the globe, to the other person working with your project are very important. There is an application out there called Hedge that I’ve been using for many years. I wanted to update you guys because a short while ago, they announced some additional features of the app that I think you’re going to find pretty amazing. We’re going to talk with Paul Matthijs in just a moment. Thank you for listening. Standby. This is going to be fun!
Paul, welcome to OWC RADiO. It’s so nice to have you here today. We have a lot to talk about.
Where are you?
I’m in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands.
I was looking at some images of Amsterdam the other day, the canals are all frozen up and people are ice skating on the canals. It brings back memories of when I was a kid. It sounds just wonderful.
Well, it was a relief that everybody really needed. It was the first time in 20 years that we could actually do outdoor ice skating. Then the whole country goes mad. There’s so much water over here and it’ll freeze up. Yeah, it’s amazing. Just what we needed. The lockdown is the second, third or fourth, I stopped counting. In general, it is in Europe and in the U.S. too, it’s not a good situation at all, but we’re coping. The mental strain will prove to be an issue over the coming years. Try to relax when we can, while at the same time having a normal life.
One thing I’m curious about, now that you mentioned being at home, because I’m now working from a studio that I put into my house. Even though I have a 1GB service, the internet is not as reliable as it used to be because there are so many people on it. Do you have those problems in Holland as well?
We do. We’ve seen some scaling issues with internet providers, that said, we are a tiny country with good facilities, infrastructure. I’m on fiber myself, which is still an exception, though. But most people have great DSL or cable internet, so it hasn’t been much of an issue. Not as much as with others, we’re lucky.
We’re also lucky that we work in the tech world, and we can work from home. A lot of people can’t do that right now, so I just feel really blessed. Paul, for people who don’t know, what is Hedge?
Hedge the company or Hedge the app?
Hedge is a company that consists mainly of people working in the film industry and wanted to build software for others in the film industry that’s easy to use and takes some strain off the work and freeing up more time for creative work. It all started with our flagship app Hedge, which aims to make onset and in the studio data management super simple. At the time, when we started building, I started this documentary about 10 years ago already. It was normal to do just one backup, and then create a backup of that backup later on in the studio. We wanted to change that paradigm to make it really easy to create three backups in one go, and that’s what we did. Since then, we added features while keeping it simple in our goal.We wanted to change that paradigm to make it really easy to create three backups in one go, and that's what we did. Click To Tweet
I was telling you before we started that, I’ve been using Hedge since the very first it was just born. It has saved my life on so many occasions. It is simple, I can see the screen in front of me and all my hard drives in the middle, I just drag them around and I find my project folders. I can make several copies at once like when you’re in a hurry, and you want to make sure you’re covering yourself. That’s pretty amazing. But Hedge has really grown. The app has grown over the years. There are some new features that you just announced last December, do you want to talk about some of those? I don’t even know where to start. There’s so much going on with this app now. It’s pretty amazing. The one thing that I have a question about is sorting during transfer. Explain that to me. Because, if things are transferring, and you’re able to sort, aren’t you gonna mess up the transfer? That’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw that. How does that work?
We started out as copying hard drives to other hard drives as is. The people started asking, “Can we just create a folder? Like I want to copy this folder to that folder?” So we added that. Then people started asking for Filters, “I just want to copy these file types.” We started catering for the same people in roles. They’re still the same users, they’re still the data managers, DITs, but also the producers, directors even on documentaries. They just like that they want to use it in different capacities. We are listing requests and adding what they need in the different roles that they have across the whole industry. At some point, you run into those people who want to reorganize all the backups they already have into a file type, for instance. That’s when sorting came around. We said, “We can already filter on a file, what if we don’t filter per file type per transfer, but we filter it per file?” A lot more processing is going on, but we can calculate the folder paths and everything else that’s required to decide where a file is being copied to. If you do that on a per-file basis, then you actually have sorted, because that’s what you’re doing. The goal here–and it’s not easy to build with robust and feel safe, and the hardest part is to present it in a way that is super easy to use, and really hard to screw up.
The issue is always human error. Onset, you have so much going on, there’s so much stuff you need to do, especially data management is quite error-prone. If we can take out that error rate, if we can take that down, then we feel we should. We only want to add features that really bring down to saving your ass down the line. You don’t want to run a backup a few later and not be able to locate a file, because the software placed it somewhere, because you decided to sort it in some ways.
I always worry when I’m working with a new DIT because, media management, once you’ve shot some of the stuff, you can’t go back and do it again, a lot of times. You’re done. Especially with a lot of the documentary or reality stuff, you get one shot, and you’re in and out. I think the interface is very easy to use and easy to understand. That’s one of the things that I noticed about it right from the beginning. I think the sorting is going to be great. So, you can choose now certain portions of the media? In other words, if I just want audio, or if I want just this video, or if I want this type of file, you can also do the ‘copy only this’?
You need to do so much stuff at the same time that we decide what we need to get presets going for people, not just on a camera basis, but on a file-type basis on whatever you need. But we need to present a release. The issue with Presets is that, there are so many cross-sections possible, you can easily run into a preset of a preset of a preset. We wanted to prevent that kind of hell because you never know where it’s going to end up if you do that. We really wanted to have a simple one-dimensional way of doing the Presets. That leads to simple filters like “I just want to copy this, I just want to copy folders, I just want to copy files.” The same goes for bundles, for instance. Some users are moving media with Hedge one day, but the other day they’re moving in Final Cut Pro libraries. One day, you definitely don’t want to have bundles. Then we have discussed when we were shooting a lot with Sony, they don’t care about color science. They just want to have the MP4s or the MXFs, whatever. It depends on what they’re shooting. They don’t want to have that AVCHD folder, which is a bundle. It’s an empty bundle for most of the two. That’s why we built in that feature, basically just for that workflow. It’s applicable on so much more, if you’re copying in your existing drive, and you just want to move the media, that’s on there buried somewhere. That’s what you can do with copy only in your bundles that way. There’s a lot of ways to combine the filters. In the end, it’s just one presets that we hope helps people to find the back end to the copies they made.
I love the bundles option. Because, a lot of times when you’re in the field, and you’re in a hurry, I’m thinking about this one show I was doing for National Geographic, and I’m shooting and we’re chasing lightning. I’ve got a B camera driving, I’m in the seat next to him, I’ve got my laptop and I’m managing the cards. This is before Hedge. It’s really scary. Because if you mess something up, and you don’t have enough cards on set with you, and you have to reuse the card, what would happen, right? So talk to me about checksum and duplicate.
First of all, renting a few more cards is always going to be cheaper than counting down an error, always. Just get more cards, it’s worth it and it’s cheap to rent. With Netflix, you gotta keep your cards around. On some productions, it’s compulsory, but if you can’t, we try to keep things simple. But when it came to copying engines in the end, we ended up with a whole bunch of different copy engines that handled media in different ways, depending on how many destinations you have. If it’s a network drive, a local drive, it’s LTO. It depends on the method you want to use to copy with it. Let’s say you have a simple set of data source cards and two hard drives, all that matters is defining, “When am I gonna erase these source cards?” And the second you decide, “I need to reuse this card.” Then, even if you have two backups from that moment on, you don’t have two backups, that one is the new source and one is a backup. They’re locking out if you’re gonna run into an issue. Always create the third backup, if you’re gonna erase the source. It depends on the workflow that you have. Hedge can do various types of backups, we can do what we call ‘backups versus archive’. If we were to do production together, and I was getting one of those backups, and you were getting one of them, and we would need to work independently on that, then it would make sense to consider those archives as the sole copy of the media that exists. There have to be complete checksums throughout, and completely cross-verified. If we have productions that make six copies, because they need to distribute across different errors at the same time, and are keeping the source around. They don’t need to do all those checksums, because they know they can always get back into the original camera card. That’s where you do a backup. We think there’s quite a distinction between doing a backup and archive. It depends on the level of checksumming that you want to use based on that scenario.
What I normally do is, make an archived copy immediately as soon as I can. Then I never ever touch it. That stays in the archive. Then I make worker copies that we can work off of. You’re absolutely right, Paul, don’t erase those cards unless you have to. Because I know, when we were at the end of delivering a show, the RAID that we were using crashed. It was irrecoverable, I had to send it back to GTech. They were amazing. They’ve handled it, but it took a couple of days to get it back. We didn’t have that time. So, I had to take all the original media and relink everything to the library.
That’s something we see a lot with workflow. What they do is, get a source, copy that with verification to a RAID. Then they’re done. Maybe they created one worker copy off of it, but that’s it. At that point, the second you do that, the RAID becomes the new source. Don’t consider a RAID a backup, or an archive. Just create multiple copies, it’s much cheaper. It does make sense to offload that source superfast, of course, if you need to reuse the card. But don’t erase the card before you create multiple copies.
Protect, protect, protect. Talk to me about duplicate detection, because I always worry about it. I know Hedge is so reliable, but it’s kind of scary. How do I know that when Hedge tells me, “You’ve already downloaded this, we don’t need to do it again,” which it does, which I love. How do I know that I haven’t made one teeny tiny change, and it’s really not a duplicate, but somebody just didn’t rename it as a new version? Does that come through the checksum activity? Or how does that work on the back end?
File name is the first responder here. The file name is the same, then the second thing that comes up is file size. The file size is to be identical down to the bytes. We check for the creation date and the modification date too. If all those four matches, we consider it as a duplicate. There is software out there that also uses that’s really a brute method and doesn’t really apply. We think that’s more something you would do when going to tape or when you’re using object storage when there’s a lot of computing going on. But with those four discriminators, Hedge says, “Are we ready to file?” What is more important is that if one of those is different, Hedge copies it, but it keeps the original, we never delete a file. In the end, yes, you have to use some file space, but it does the issue. The same thing on LTO, we always keep your history, like a snapshot, you can always roll back into that previous version. A bit like most laptops for Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro.
I know several people will say, “What do you need with those sidecar files?” Maybe I’m a little bit OCD, but I like looking at the details of the Log and exactly what came in and where there may have been a problem. Even when Hedge says It’s great, all done. I always peek in the Log. Anyway, just to make sure, I’ve never had a problem when it was a conflict. I have to tell you, it has always worked. It’s nice to have that Log file also, don’t you think? Because down the road, you might want to look in that log file and it’s searchable, right? Is it searchable?
It is, yeah.
When you’re dealing with multiple people on a project, things get screwed up. That’s just human error. You have somebody that’s handling media that forgets to rename a file, or maybe they put it in the wrong place. I’m talking about these larger projects that can get pretty complicated. So, I do like the Logs.
We need them down the line, in the end. At some point, it’s going to go rolling, and you need to be able to fall back on that. That’s why people create gamma reports, with Foolcat, too. For the Checkpoint, yes, stuff will happen and stuff will go wrong at some point. It rarely happens, I must say, and that’s a good thing. There’s been quite a commoditization of the hardware too. When this whole industry started, 15 years ago with ShotPut Pro, the OS wasn’t that good, the hardware definitely wasn’t good, hard disks were given up the second they left the store. Nowadays, a hard drive, if you look at Backblaze’s hard drive reports, a hard drive lasts eight years easily. That’s the performance we’ve never seen in the past. Errors won’t happen that often anymore, it’s down the line. It’s discovering when an error happens. That’s something Netflix is currently pushing together with the ASC. It’s for a new standard of the sidecar scope, the ASC. Which will give you a report of what happened. It also keeps in mind what happens afterward. So you have a ledger going back into history. You can actually find out when something went wrong, and then make sure it doesn’t happen again at that stage. The industry is really moving forward into creating that ledger.The hardest part in creating Hedge is to present it in a way that's super easy-to-use and really hard to screw up. Click To Tweet
We’re getting organized. Tell me again, what that’s called? What Netflix is calling it?
It’s the ASC MHL. It’s version two of the Media Hash List. ASC has put together the work of a group to elite depth.
I always make sure if I’m moving locations, I always bring that sidecar with the media. It lives with the media, no matter where the media ends up. That’s really important. I’m saying this to all the people who might be listening, who don’t think it’s important. They see that tiny log file, and they go, “Oh, I don’t need that.” They might not keep it.
There’s always a local copy on the computer. But yeah, then the computer got stolen, or it’s wiped at some point.
How did you get involved in all this?
We were working on a successor for MHL too. Like just a log file, it’s a list, I need to dig into it. Then there’s really like how you’re used to consuming media, you’re used to finding the best research. We always try at Hedge, we now have such different products within the lineup like Foolcat and Canister for LTO. We try out new technologies at first often with catalog. That’s an example of such a technology for LTO. Because the tape takes ages to load, and it’s hard to begin to. So we built a technology presentation as a catalog that lives in NeoFinder, a user can use it to search. We’re still working on solving a shared catalog, that you could share with other users, that’s sent to them, that they can mount on their system as if they have that disk at their desk. We’ll see more improvements in the industry there, in the coming years. Because the next thing is discoverability. Where is that file? Yes, someone needs to find it.
I killed NeoFinder. Every time I try to use NeoFinder to give me an index of what I have, it dies. It can’t handle all the files.
The NeoFinder is great. Did NeoFinder break?
It is. There are 250 terabytes in this small room I’m in, on different projects. You try to get NeoFinder to tell you what drive something is on. A client approached us, and they wanted something that we’d shot almost 20 years ago. How do you find it? You have to go to your old library system for that. You’re mentioning LTO. LTO is going to become more and more important for a while there. We were avoiding it. But with all of this media that’s piling up, don’t you think that might be one of our best solutions in terms of archiving? Or do you have another suggestion for us?
No, it’s definitely the cheapest. The entry point is steep if you want a new drive, but they are fast. The problem with LTO used to be the speed, it used to be really slow. But it’s much faster than a regular hard disk nowadays. And the machine itself is really expensive. Let’s say you have a few terabytes of media coming in each month that you need to archive, just get an older generation of LTO. The tapes are cheap for the older generations, and you’ll thank yourself for it. Because it’s so much better than just to have an LTO than to push everything to the cloud, which would be the alternative. I’m definitely not advocating against the cloud, because the I think the cloud is a great way to store media. But if you’re going to search it within two or three years, and when you do, it’s fine to search for a date to take the load. If you need a turnaround time for 24 hours, the tape is fine, really. Retrieving something from LTO definitely would take you the time to pick up the tape, put it in a machine, find the file, etcetera. With the cloud, that will happen in the end too. You still have a huge pile of data that you need to sift through which you’re paying for. If you need stuff within a year, put it in the cloud. If you need stuff stored longer than a year, put it on LTO.
Everybody’s talking about cloud. It’s fine for some things, but not for everything. I actually noticed the other day that I had some stuff up on my Apple Cloud. The Cloud uploaded original WAV files from one of my projects, and I went to download them, they were coming in as M4As.
They were changed.
They’re changing them. I don’t know what happened up in the Cloud, I have to call and find out what was going on there. Luckily, I have another copy. That’s the kind of thing when you relinquish ownership temporarily, even if temporary, to some of your media, that’s really important. You don’t know what’s going to happen to it on the other end.
That sounds like because you have legions of professional clouds there. There is only that bit principally I proposed outright that we have a cloud product, too. That’s super hot storage. We don’t have an archive there yet. There are definitely reasons to use that and definitely reasons not to use that. It really depends on your bandwidth. It depends on your cost structure. It’s not that one thing, per se, is better than the other, it changes per project I’d say. We’re on a per-project basis, “What will work?” We don’t stick to, “I’ve always done this. So this is going to be the way. I’m going to keep doing this.” Because technology is changing too fast for that.
That’s absolutely good advice. If people approach change as an adventure, and they just go with it and learn how to use it the best they can for their projects, I think they’ll be happy. Talk to me about Postlab because I’m such a fangirl. It is going to solve such in a huge way for us, the problem that we have working remote collaboration with editors all around the world. Can you talk about how Hedge and Postlab got married and why?
When we started with Hedge, we wanted to cover all the work from the equation and create room for creativity. At the time, we built this overview of the industry where we think it’s going to go here. Once we solve backups, then the next part is to save dailies. While there are a lot of people solving the dailies out there already, nobody is really solving the issue of working together with your team, working with your clients. We ran into Jasper, who is the inventor of Postlab, and he built Postlab for a Dutch broadcaster. Seeing his philosophy on how to develop software really zoning in on what you need to work really resonated with what we did. We adopted him, and we said, “If Hedge is one part of the chain, then Postlab will be the other part of the chain.” So anything in between, you can use whatever you want. Like you might be an editor that’s always working alone in a project and then you need to scale up to five editors, then you drop into Postlab. You can also use it if you’re on your own because it also helps you bring a solo editor. Which you could also drop out again and return to your regular workflow.
Are there any other new features that we didn’t talk about that you might want to talk about?
For Postlab, what’s interesting is Postlab started out as Final Cut Pro. It snapped because the lack of collaboration was the largest in Final Cut Pro. A lot of people ask us, “Can you do the same for Premiere? Because we don’t want to use the same product, we want to use something that’s simpler.” That’s when we did that. A lot of Avid editors came to us saying, “We already have good collaboration, we just don’t have been locking remote. Can you fix that?” That’s something we fixed. That’s something we’re going to launch next month. It sits on top of drive, turns driving it to a nexus so you can put your effort projects on Postlab Drive, and then it functions as if you’re in the office running off of a nexus. That really should help commoditizing efforts into a remote team workflow. Because until now, that has been really tied into working in an office together with other editors at the same time.
The world is changing, isn’t it?
I miss that feeling of going downstairs and seeing 10 editors working on something, and everybody’s huddled over. Then you go upstairs and people are getting dressed to go out into the field to shoot something really remote and interesting, I missed that. But, with what you have and what Postlab has, you’re helping us survive in these times. I really appreciate that. What do you think is next for you guys? You’re working on solving that Avid problem. What do you think it’s gonna be next? Anything you can talk about today?
Postlab, we want to make the hub to work with editors, but not just editors, we want to bring in some experts too. We’re definitely going into the DAW space too; Pro Tools, Logic, Motion, After Effects. Everyone that’s on your team should be able to work together in Postlab. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work on the same project. It could be getting a Final Cut Pro team and then one Adobe After Effects artist in there. We feel everybody’s working remote, it’s hard to get that knit feeling of working together on the same project. We hope, by bringing the whole team onto Postlab, that will help.
Now, it just occurred to me that some people listening might not know what Postlab is, can you explain this to them? Just give us a little overview of what it does.
Postlab is like project management but for your NLE. It observes what you’re doing internally, it saves your work, it saves versions, you have an automatic history, it tells you who’s working on something. You don’t accidentally go into the same file and create a conflict. There is status management in there. It’s all built to make it easy to work together on your NLE projects, at the same time.
That you can have an editor in Poland, an editor in San Diego, and you’re working with the same media. That’s wonderful. I’m actually very excited about it. It’s going to make life a lot easier for me, and for a lot of other people. How did you get started in the tech world, Paul? You’re so bright. I remember talking to you at the Creative Summit a couple of years ago when we were all in Cupertino. Remember that big fire that was happening back then? It was terrible. We couldn’t even walk down the street without wearing a mask, practically. But I remember thinking at the time, you’re one of the smart ones. So, how did all that start?
I think it’s experience over the years. I started out on stations in the local venue. Then I thought, “That’s interesting, to know these cables and stuff.” Then I got into sound and I became a touring sound engineer. I got into mastering because that sounded interesting, too. At the time, there wasn’t much work in the live music industry in winter, because fans weren’t touring back then in winter. I still needed to eat, so I got into the broadcast sound. That led to being asked the art of broadcast productions that all needed sound reinforcements, then one thing led to another, and I had an easy job in the sound department. I was super busy with data handling because we were doing fifteen 5D shoots, 15 camera shoots. There was this guy who was super busy swapping cards all day. I didn’t have much to do, so I helped them out and had five of the people working together on the set. We started helping out with some automation and that became an AppleScript. The next season, it became a large AppleScript. Then you have Hedge a few years in. That was 15 years in a nutshell.
Unbelievable! Paul as a five-year-old, what did you like to do? If I ask your mom and dad, “What did Paul do when he was five and six years old? What did you like to do?” What would you say? Did you have the Meccano sets? I remember in France we had Meccano, it’s like Legos, but I used to love to build motors with them. I remember my brother got one for Christmas and he didn’t want it, so I took it and I was building ferris wheels.
I have one ferris wheel actually. But I definitely prefer Space Lego.
There you go. That’s awesome. You’re staying healthy, obviously, and I’m glad everything’s going well. You’re working hard doing great things for us, I’m grateful for that. Where do people go to find out more about Hedge, your apps, Postlab, and all of that? Where do we send them?
Just go to Hedge.video. You’ll see Hedge, Canister, Postlab, and Drive. There’s a blog with a lot of background information. Any questions you have just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to help out or hop on a call.Hedge simplifies data handling so users can focus on their core competencies. Click To Tweet
That’s true, you guys are listening. That’s really true. Because years ago, I had a problem. I was on deadline, I don’t remember what it was. But I emailed in a panic. You know how you do when trying to deliver something? “Oh my goodness! This is not happening.” I need it, and Paul, you answered me yourself. You got in an email, and you were very helpful. We got it solved and got me back on track, though. Thank you for everything you’ve done.
We know you don’t run into an issue until it’s too late. There is stress involved and you need to get it sorted ASAP. As a vendor, we should be able to help you out if we can. That’s why if I can help you out right away, we should. We have a large team for that on purpose. It’s as large as a software development department. We’re still a tiny company, well, we’re fifty people now. Customer support is one of the most important things we do daily.
I’m grateful for it. Hedge is part of my daily workflow. Thank you and thanks for taking the time to do this. I know you’re many hours ahead of us. I’m in San Diego and you are in the Netherlands right now. Take care of yourself. Stay healthy, stay happy, and we’ll bring you back on again. Thank you so much. To everyone listening, remember what I always say. Get up off your chairs and go do something wonderful today even if it’s in your own home. This is Cirina Catania, he’s Paul Matthijs, we’re talking about Hedge and Postlab. I am signing off. You guys have a good day. Thank you!
- Hedge – Twitter
- Paul Matthijs
- Hedge Filter and Rename
- Hedge Presets
- Hedge Logging
- Hedge Foolcat
- Hedge Checkpoint
- Hedge Canister
- Jasper Siegers
- ASC MHL
- Final Cut Pro
- Always organize your files, folders, and documents for maximum productivity.
- Decide which files and documents are important to include in your backup.
- Look for the best backup software that suits your needs. Make sure that you understand which features are most important to your backup strategy.
- Back up regularly. Automating your backup will ensure they get performed routinely and you don’t risk losing files.
- Have a backup plan. Remember that backups can fail; as a simple precaution, it is great to have an alternative backup plan.
- Check out Hedge.video to know more about Hedge and Postlab. If you have more questions, email Hedge at email@example.com.