EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES

Posted in Editing, Hard drives on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

(Revised July 8, 2014)

An external hard drive consists of a standard 3.5” or 2.5” hard drive (the same kind of drives that are installed inside desktop and laptop computers) and a physical enclosure that protects the drive and allows you to connect it to a computer via Firewire, USB, eSATA, or Thunderbolt.

3.5″ SATA HDD

2.5″ SATA SSD

Portable hard drive enclosures

You should use hard drives for two general purposes–working and backing up your data. We strongly encourage you to purchase separate drives for these two functions. For maximum data security, you would have one high-performance drive for editing plus two copies of all of your projects on two different backup drives.

Before offering our recommendations for external hard drives, here’s an outline of some of the types of hard drives currently available…


DRIVE TYPES & TERMINOLOGY

HDD vs. SSD

HDD refers to traditional hard disc drives that store data on spinning metal platters. SSD means “solid-state drive” and uses a much newer technology of flash memory chips to store data. SSDs are significantly faster than HDDs, and because they do not rely on mechanically spinning discs, they are more reliable and durable than HDDs. However, external SSD drives cost as much as five times more per gigabyte as their HDD counterparts—a 256 GB portable SSD drive made by Lacie costs $300 while its 1 TB HDD equivalent costs $200. When purchasing an HDD that will be rigorously used (ex: video editing as opposed to standard backup usage), make sure that the drive’s speed is at least 7200 RPM.

(more on HDDs and SSDs here)

PORTABLE VS. DESKTOP

Portable hard drives are typically bus-powered (no AC adapter) and small enough to almost fit in the back pocket of the average pair of jeans. This convenience comes at a price and with capacity limitations—portable hard drives are more expensive than their desktop counterparts, and they generally don’t hold more than 2 TB. Because they aren’t powered externally they can lose connectivity if the computer’s Firewire or USB bus has power issues. For this reason, they are not as stable and reliable as desktop hard drives. Desktop hard drives must be powered externally, often with chunky “wall-wart” AC adapters. They are much more cost-effective in terms of storage capacity than portable drives, and they are typically more stable in terms of connectivity. Bus-powered portable drives are great for backing up and transferring files and for light production work, but… For maximum performance, stability and affordability, we recommend plug-in desktop drives over bus-powered portable drives.

FIREWIRE vs. ESATA vs. USB vs. THUNDERBOLT­

For more than a decade Firewire had been the prominent Mac interface standard for external hard drives and other peripherals. In more recent years the Firewire400 (6-pin) standard was replaced by the faster Firewire800 (9-pin), but Firewire800 is not quite fast enough for smooth, efficient editing of HD video, especially when compared with newer alternatives.

A faster alternative is eSATA (serial ATA), an option included along with Firewire in many external hard drives. The main drawback to eSATA is that eSATA ports are not included in any computers currently on the market. It’s not possible to connect an eSATA drive to a Mac laptop without an adapter. It’s a relatively old standard at this point and will probably not be included in future generations of external hard drives. However, eSATA cards can be installed in desktop computers, offering the fastest possible connection from a pre-2013 Mac Pro to an external hard drive.

Many inexpensive drives offer USB 2.0 capabilities, but USB 2.0 should only be used for light work like editing photos or copying files—it’s almost two times slower than Firewire and can’t handle large video files. USB 3.0 is over five times faster than Firewire (see chart below) and at the moment is the most affordable standard for HD editing or any other bandwidth-heavy activity. Only the new Mac Pros at SAIC include USB 3.0 ports, but all Macbook Pro laptops produced after May 2012 have USB 3.0 capabilities.

(more on USB here)

Thunderbolt is twice as fast as USB 3.0 (for now) and is included in all new Mac laptop models and in the new Mac Pro. Thunderbolt peripherals and drives have been slow to develop and are considerably more expensive than their USB 3.0 counterparts, but they are gradually becoming more affordable. Thunderbolt is currently capable of speeds up to 10 gigabytes per second. Thunderbolt 2 can reach 20 gigabytes per second with the potential for speeds up to 100 GB/s. However, at the moment, Thunderbolt 2 drives are drastically more expensive than standard Thunderbolt drives. 

(more on Thunderbolt here)

(Gizmodo – “Thunderbolt vs. USB 3.0: “The Definitive Showdown”)

RAID­

*RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a technology that bundles several physical hard drives into one practical unit. Data is distributed across the multiple drives for dramatically improved performance. A common RAID-configured Mac Pro would have one main system hard drive (Macintosh_HD) plus four 1 TB HDDs that are RAID-striped into a single unit. This unit is seen by the Finder as one 4 TB hard drive. When video data is processed to and from the RAID unit, it has an incredible amount of bandwidth to do so, especially when compared to that offered by a Firewire cable. The example here is of a configuration for maximum performance; other RAID configurations can allow for increased security against hard drive failures and data loss.

We highly recommend that you purchased a RAID-configured external drive if you plan on using the drive for HD or 4K video work. For backing up and transferring files RAID technology is not crucial.

Click here for explanations of various RAID configurations.

DRIVE RECOMMENDATIONS

(DISCLAIMER)

Some brands (G-Technology, Other World Computing, Lacie) are used prominently in the media production world and have won the loyalty of SAIC staff, faculty and students, but please remember that as with motor vehicles, cell phones, cameras, etc., hard drives are mass-produced mechanical devices prone to malfunction. We have witnessed the complete and irreversible failure of hard drives made by virtually every single brand out there. Plan on buying numerous hard drives as long as you are making media. You might develop your own brand loyalties, but always be prepared for hard drive death. Back up your work, and back up the backups!

That all said, choosing RAID drives with the fastest possible transfer technology (not to mention good practices like giving your drives frequent periods of rest/inactivity and keeping about 10% of your hard drive space free) will improve the chance that your drives will have long and productive lifespans with minimal data loss.

DRIVES FOR EDITING & PRODUCTION

When choosing a working drive, think about when and where you plan to use the drive. Are you buying a drive to use in the immediate future with SAIC computers, or are you investing in a drive that will be compatible with computers you’ll be using 1-5 years from now? For example, if you plan to use the drive exclusively with your 2012 or later Macbook Pro, and with the new Mac Pro and future generations of Mac computers, a Thunderbolt-only drive such as this 4 TB G-RAID or this similar Other World Computing model would be a sound investment. 

However, keep in mind that as of the Fall 2014 semester, SAIC and FVNMA will have some labs and suites outfitted with new Mac Pros, but most of our desktop machines will still be 2010 Mac Pros, with Firewire and USB 2.0 connections. If you buy a Thunderbolt-only drive (e.g. the 4 TB G-RAID mentioned in the paragraph above) and you plan to move between new Thunderbolt-enabled machines and the older Mac Pros, you’ll need this Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, and you will be limited to Firewire 800 speeds. The Other World Computing model (also listed in the paragraph above) includes a USB 3.0 connection, allowing you to connect to older computers via USB 2.0 speeds. USB 3.0-only drives offer much more storage space per dollar than Thunderbolt drives, but the performance and speed boost offered by Thunderbolt is well worth the price difference.

DRIVES FOR LIGHT USE & BACKUP

Plug-in desktop RAID drives are our recommended option for rigorous work. For everything else including backing up and transferring files between computers, you could invest in less expensive desktop drives and/or more convenient portable drives. B&H carries a huge list of external drives, searchable by such factors as drive speed, connection, capacity, etc. We’ve tested and can generally recommend the brands mentioned in this post (G-Technology, Glyph, Other World Computing, Lacie) as well as Hitachi/HGST.*

In May 2013 Macworld published this rundown of portable hard drives and in December of 2011 it offered a similar list of desktop drives. Other places to look for recommendations would be Creative Cow discussion forums, GizmodoEngadget, Cult of Mac and your creative community.

One final cost-effective USB 3.0/Firewire/eSATA option is not a hard drive per se, it’s an enclosure which allows for 2.5″ or 3.5″ HDDs or SSDs  to be easily be swapped in and out. It’s not sleek and self-contained like most of the drives mentioned above, but it offers a more affordable method of working with new SSDs and can also be used to access data from a desktop computer’s internal drives. Initial tests of this enclosure show it to be fast and stable.

We will update this list as new drives become available!

*One portable drive that we can recommend you NOT buy is Other World Computing’s ElitePro mini line (we’ve had more success with OWC’s older portable drives and their desktop drives).



Burning Blu-Ray in Adobe Encore

Posted in Adobe Encore, Blu-Ray, Compression, Gene Siskel Film Center on Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The steps detailed in the handout below show you how to burn a stereo Blu-Ray disc using Adobe Encore. Click to enlarge the images, or download the PDF. Blu-Ray burners are located in the General Access lab in the MacLean building, inside marked computers in FVNMA labs, and are available for checkout through the MacLean Media Center.  Blu-Ray discs are for sale in the MacLean Resale vending machine.

For instructions on burning a 5.1 surround Blu-ray, see our other Blu-ray guide.



FVNMA EQUIPMENT LIST

Posted in Aja KiPro, Audio, Bolex, Cameras, Canon EOS 7D, FVNMA Equipment List, Lighting, Steadicam on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

*Number at the end indicates quantity

AUDIO

MICROPHONES

Audio-Technica AT803B Lavalier Omni Condenser Mic Kit – 2

IMG_8562

Audio-Technica AT831B Lavalier Cardioid Condenser Mic Kit – 2

IMG_8586 Low-Res

Audio-Technica ATM10A Condenser Mic – 8

IMG_8664

Audio-Technica ATM33A Condenser Mic – 8

IMG_8672

Crown PZM185 – 1

IMG_8547

ElectroVoice RE50 Dynamic Omni Mic – 2

IMG_8598 Low Res

Neumann U87 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Mic Kit – 4

IMG_8690 Low Res

Sennheiser MD-441-U Dynamic Supercardioid Mic – 2

IMG_8585 Low Res

Sennheiser ME66/K6 Shotgun Mic Kit – 26

IMG_8527 Low Res

Sennheiser MKH 416 Shotgun Mic – 4

IMG_8611

Sennheiser Shotgun Mic Kit

IMG_8707 Low Res

Shure PGX4 Wireless Lavalier Mic Kit – 2

IMG_8568 Low Res

Audio-Technica AT4033A Cardioid Condenser Mic – 1

Audio-Technica AT4033A Cardioid Condenser Mic - 1

AUDIO RECORDERS

Sound Devices 722 Portable Digital 2-track Recorder – 13

IMG_8512 Low Res

Zoom H4N Portable Digital 4-track Recorder – 20

IMG_8490 Low Res

MIDI CONTROLLERS

Akai MPD32 USB Midi Controller – 1

IMG_8753 Low Res

JazzMutant Lemur Multi-touch Midi Controller – 1

IMG_8725 Low Res

Korg nanoKontrol USB Midi Controller – 2

IMG_8461 Low Res

HEADPHONES

Sony MDR-7502 Headphones – 1

Sony MDR-7502 Headphones - 1

Sony MDR-7506 Headphones – 4

Sony MDR-7506 Headphones - 4

__________

CAMERAS

RED Scarlet – X – 1

*Photo arriving shortly

16MM

ARRI S – 4

IMG_8147 Low Res

IMG_8161 Low Res

ARRI SRII – 2

IMG_8179 Low Res

IMG_8187 Low Res

Bolex – 18

IMG_8087 Low Res

IMG_8114 Low Res

Eclair ACL – 2

IMG_8127 Low Res

IMG_8131 Low Res

SUPER 8

Canon 814 XLS

IMG_8441 Low Res

Canon 1014 XLS

IMG_8447 Low Res

DSLRs

Canon 5D Mark III – 2

IMG_7950 Low Res

IMG_7956 Low Res

Canon 7D – 20

IMG_7960 Low Res

IMG_7968 Low Res

Canon 60D

IMG_7980

IMG_7990 Low Res

VIDEO

Sony PMW-EX3 – 6

IMG_8018 Low Res

IMG_8022 Low Res

Sony HVR-V1U – 2

IMG_8053 Low Res

IMG_8058 Low Res

Canon XHA1 – 2

IMG_8039 Low Res

IMG_8045 Low Res

Panasonic S-VHS – 1

IMG_8080 Low Res

CAMERA SUPPORT

Aja Ki Pro Portable ProRes Recorder – 2

IMG_8299 Low Res

IMG_8313 Low Res

BlackMagic HyperDeck Shuttle – 1

IMG_8285 Low Res

IMG_8297 Low Res

Pearstone Clapper – 3

IMG_8815 Low Res

CAMERA STABILIZATION

Fig Rig Camera Stabilizer – 2

IMG_8763 Low Res

RedRock Micro DSLR Shoulder Rig with Monitor – 3

IMG_8790 Low Res

IMG_8785 Low Res

Steadicam Flyer Camera Stabilizer – 1

IMG_0121 Low Res

IMG_0137 Low Res

Cartoni Laser Tripod – 2

Cartoni Laser Tripod - 2

Manfrotto 516 Tripod – 7

Manfrotto 516 Tripod - 7

Manfrotto 3221 Tripod – 29

Manfrotto 3221 Tripod - 29

BOLEX SUPPORT

Extension Tubes

IMG_8417

Lenses

IMG_8409

Lens Filters

IMG_8403

Matte Box

IMG_8395 Low Res

Pistol Grip

IMG_8400

_________

LIGHTING

Arri Arrilite 600-3 Compact Kit w/ 3 600 Watt Open Face Tungsten Flood Lights – 1

Arri Arrilite 600-3 Compact Kit with 3 600 Watt Open Face Tungsten Flood Lights - 1

Arri Arrilite 650 Light head – 1

Arri Arrilite 650 Light head - 1

Arri Soft-Key 3 Kit w/ 2 650 Watt + Tungsten Fresnel & Arrisoft 1000 Watt Fill – 2

Arri Soft-Key 3-Light Kit with 2 650 Watt Plus Tungsten Fresnel and one Arrisoft 1000 Watt Fill Light - 2

Arrilite 1k Floods – 2

Arrilite 1k Floods - 2

Desisti 1K Cycs – 2

Desisti 1K Cycs - 2

Kino Flo Diva-Lite 400 Universal Two Fluorescent Light Flight Case Kit – 1

Kino Flo Diva-Lite 400 Universal Two Fluorescent Light Flight Case Kit - 1

Litepanels ENG Sola Flight Kit – 1

Litepanels ENG Sola Flight Kit - 1

Litepanels Light Kit 1×1 2 Spot and 2 Flood heads – 2

Litepanels Light Kit 1x1 2 Spot and 2 Flood heads - 2

Lowel Creator Kit One – 4

Lowel Creator Kit One - 4

Lowel Light Stand – 1

Lowel Light Stand - 1

Lowel Pro Light Head T1-10 – 1

Lowel Pro Light Head T1-10 - 1

Lowel Tota/Omni Core 44 Kit – 3

Lowel Tota:Omni Core 44 Kit - 3

Matthews Studio Equipment C Stands – 13

Matthews Studio Equipment C Stands - 13

Mole Richardson 1K Baby Solar Spot – 3

Mole Richardson 1K Baby Solar Spot - 3

Mole Richardson 2K Flood – 1

Mole Richardson 2K Flood - 1

Mole Richardson 4K Flood – 1

Mole Richardson 4K Flood - 1

Mole Richardson Baby Soft Light Kit – 1

Mole Richardson Baby Soft Light Kit - 1

Mole Richardson Baby Solar Spot Light Kit – 2

Mole Richardson Baby Solar Spot Light Kit - 2

Mole Richardson Tweenie II and Softlite Tungsten 3 Light Combo Kit – 2

Mole Richardson Tweenie II and Softlite Tungsten 3 Light Combo Kit - 2

Mole-Richardson Tweenie II Tungsten 3 Light Light Kit – 2

Mole-Richardson Tweenie II Tungsten 3 Light Light Kit - 2

Westcott Spiderlite 1560W TD5 3-Light Studio Softbox Kit – 3

Westcott Spiderlite 1560W TD5 3-Light Studio Softbox Kit - 3

LitePanels Croma – 3

IMG_8839 Low Res

Analog Sekonic Light Meter L-398A – 23

IMG_8334

Digital Sekonic Light Meter L-58C – 17

IMG_8323 Low Res

____________

FILM EDITING

Ciro 16mm Splicer – 9

IMG_8368 Low Res

Maier-Hancock 816 Hot Splicer

IMG_8373 Low Res

Moviola Synchronizer

IMG_8356 Low Res

Moviscop – 6

IMG_8354 Low Res

Newmade Rewinds

IMG_8346 Low Res

______

MISC.

Critter & Guitar Video Synthesizer – 1

IMG_8825 Low Res

___________

PROJECTION

DIGITAL PROJECTORS

BenQ MX762ST – 2

IMG_8241 Low Res

Optoma TH1020 – 2

IMG_8231 Low Res

Panasonic PT-AE3000U – 3

IMG_8251 Low Res

Panasonic PT-AR100U – 9

IMG_8266 Low Res

FILM PROJECTORS

EIKI SSL 16mm – 4

IMG_8207 Low Res

IMG_8218 Low Res

Elmo ST-1200 Super 8 – 2

IMG_8205 Low Res

IMG_8198 Low Res

PLAYERS

Panasonic DMP-BD65 Blu-Ray Player – 1

IMG_8485 Low Res



Preparing Video Files for the Aja Ki Pro

Posted in Aja KiPro, Compression, Gene Siskel Film Center on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Gene Siskel Film Center offers the ability to play Apple ProRes files via its Aja Ki Pro hard drive player/recorder. This guide covers the process of converting a file to make it compatible with the Aja Ki Pro.  It includes workflows for Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Media Encoder CS6. Click to enlarge the images, or download the PDF.



Live View EOS Correction Cap

Posted in Animation, Canon EOS 7D on Friday, February 14th, 2014

The EOS Live View Correction Cap is designed to reset the Live View Exposure Preview level in Canon DSLR cameras.  When you connect a digital lens to to a Canon DSLR you are able to alter the exposure, and as you do the Live View Exposure Preview adjusts to mirror the still image you will capture.  However, once you replace the digital lens with a manual lens (used in puppet animation classes to avoid flicker) the camera is no longer capable of communicating the exposure setting with the Live View Exposure Preview.  Any adjustments you make are additively applied to the last Live View exposure setting.  This means your actual exposures won’t match what you are seeing in the preview.  You can correct this by using  the EOS Live View Correction Cap to reset your Live View Exposure Preview.  The following guide will walk you through the process of using the Correction Cap.  Click on the images to expand them or view the high quality PDF.



Steadicam Flyer Speed Guide

Posted in Steadicam on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The following is a step by step guide to assembling and operating the steady cam.  Click to expand the thumbnails below or view the high quality PDF version.



Working with Video in the Advanced Dub Room MC1319

Posted in Aja KiPro, Dubbing, Transfers on Friday, October 11th, 2013

We recently upgraded our Advanced Dub Room from an SD-only patch panel setup to a computer-controlled, HD and SD capable system. This guide covers the basics of making traditional dubs, recording from tapes or discs to ProRes files and sending video files out to tapes and DVDs. Click to enlarge the images, or download the PDF.



Using the Sony HVR-MRC1 CF Recorder with the Canon XH-A1

Posted in Cameras, Hard drives on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

This post covers the physical connections, camera and hard disk settings and file transfer workflow when using the Sony HVR-MRC1 hard disk recorder with the Canon XH-A1 camera. Click to enlarge the images, or download the PDF.



Submitting Files to the Render Farm

Posted in 3D, Animation, Maya on Thursday, April 25th, 2013

The following guide will show you how to submit files to the render farm. Please follow it closely. You can download a high quality PDF version here. Users already familiar with the render farm and looking for a refresher can download the quick guide.

Files can only be submitted from a computer on campus. All FVNMA computer labs have Deadline render management software installed and the Deadline plugin for Maya. When you submit a render please keep the following things in mind. Your job title must always be your email address. This way we can contact you if there is a problem with your render. Before you submit an entire project please be sure to render a test frame and check for errors. Once submitted jobs are automatically added to the render queue in the order they are received. If a single user is rendering for more than a week the render will be stopped and added to the end of the queue from where it left off. This gives the entire community the opportunity to use the farm. If you would like to stop or delete your render please contact Emily Kuehn at ekuehn@saic.edu or 312-345-3988. Anyone who attempts to alter the queue or render farm architecture will be banned from using the render farm.



Burning 5.1 Blu-Ray in Adobe Encore

Posted in Adobe Encore, Blu-Ray, Compression, Gene Siskel Film Center on Monday, April 1st, 2013

The steps detailed in the handout below show you how to burn a 5.1 surround sound Blu-Ray disc using Adobe Encore. Click to enlarge the images, or download the PDF. Blu-Ray burners are located in the General Access lab in the MacLean building, inside marked computers in FVNMA labs, and are available for checkout through the MacLean Media Center.  Blu-Ray discs are for sale in the MacLean Resale vending machine and at electronics and office supply stores.

For instructions on burning a standard stereo Blu-ray, see our other Blu-ray guide.



HDR Photography Using the Gigapan

Posted in 3D, Animation, HDR, Lighting on Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Follow the workflow below to capture an HDR panorama using the Gigapan robotic tripod head. You can download the PDF here.




Bolex Loading Guide

Posted in Bolex, Cameras on Thursday, January 31st, 2013

This guide demonstrates proper Bolex loading procedures. Click to enlarge the images below or download the PDF.



« Older Entries