In the beginning, there was chaos and confusion. We have so many variables that I find myself referring back to my original workflow diagram, circa 1999. The basic high-level concepts of post-production are virtually the same anywhere you go. The devil, of course, is in the details. That's where things can easily get convoluted very quickly - especially in a team environment. In all, we have five (sometimes six) editors including myself. (I'm a working supervisor.)
The trick right now is to focus on the limitations and construction of Final Cut Server, XSAN and Windows network. Two weeks ago I attended a three day course on Final Cut Server called "FCSvr 201" at MacSpecialist in Chicago. The first day was 25% on end user experience and 75% on what not to do and the major bugs were present. Some of the bugs were fixed in FCSvr 1.5, the help menu to start. But what I really learned about implementing FCSvr was that you can't have too many details on your own workflow needs. Luckily, for me, I have already done much of the legwork required to get the proper metadata set up.
The basics of FCSvr break down to metadata, both how it is related and what kind is present. At the highest level of the food chain, we have the Metadata Set. The set consists of many groupings of fields. That grouping, the level just below a Set, is called a Group. The Group houses the final level, the granular level of the metadata - fields. In order to get this all constructed correctly, you have to first look at all of the bits of info you need to have and track. Then you have to think of how to group that info and finally in which set that group belongs. In essence, you have to look at the big picture, then cut it with a jigsaw, then piece it all back together again. I have done database work before, with Filemaker and Access, but nothing to this granular level that is afforded by Final Cut Server.
The one thing I can say about the beginning of implementing such a powerful and vast installation is that you can't plan too much. Accounting for unknowable variables can't be done well. Thus, the most effective approach is to get as much feedback as you can to uncover all contingencies anyone can think of to date. One thing you can count on is that the details will change down the line. So, knowledge of production changes down the road would help tremendously.
I learned in my class that Final Cut Server comes stock with over 1200 fields. Before we started designing our case-study solution in class, I thought that was way more than anyone would need. Once involved, I discovered that there were key bits of info missing for our particular needs for Pretend Co. Even with all those fields, we still needed more than the stock 1200-odd fields. Most of our needed fields were already in FCSvr, though. Caveat: only the ones labeled as custom fields could be manipulated for our use. Some fields are populated by file-embedded metadata and cannot be made to store other data types. More on custom fields later.
Final Cut Server, as a custom solution, requires custom configuration. I am compelled to offer an analogy here about custom car tuning. You can buy a stock Mini Cooper for under $20k USD and it will drive and ride just fine. If you want that car to perform really well under harsh driving conditions, you want it customized. It'll cost you another $10k, but it will perform better, look sharper and handle corners tighter. Installing the server only nets you a stock car. If you want that car to drive and look certain ways, you must customize. With that, I'm going to be rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. I'll write about it here for others to learn from my mistakes and successes.