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Thread: External harddrive capturing suggestions/insight wanted

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default External harddrive capturing suggestions/insight wanted

    Hi all,

    Very very new to Digital Director, so please go easy on me

    I know I've put a lot of info here, my goal is to give as clear an idea as possible of what I'm asking...

    Sincere thanks in advance for all feedback/suggestions!

    I work as an editor's assistant for a small, independent studio that produces approximately 1-2 hours per week of broadcast quality footage.

    Our shows are about video games, so all our footage can be broken down into 2 types. A-roll (interviews) that we shoot, and B-Roll (game footage and various other non-interview shots) that either capture ourselves or is provided to us by the games' developers/marketers.

    This studio started out very small in the late nineties in the days where having all footage on tape was a necessity... i.e. only capturing footage to hard drives for immediate offlining, editing offline, and then batching tapes for online editing, deleting the offlined files once online was complete, then starting all over again for the next show...

    However, as the studio has grown, and more shows have been added, etc. and since hard drive storage solutions have now reached a price point that is very reasonable, I am in the process of pitching the idea that ALL footage arriving into our studio goes directly to a hard drive right away (offline quality), and stays there for (virtually) forever, to be grabbed at any time for offlining for any show at any time.

    This is a big shift in paradigm/procedure for the studio, but I've already run this idea (in THEORY/broad terms) past the creator/owner of the studio, and he feels it is a smart and obvious change.

    There are many many advantages to this system, efficiency (in the business world = saving $$$) being the big one.

    Now comes the next step, I need to create a written proposal that has DETAILS. So at this very moment I am doing my homework/research into this issue, and how to put it into practice in concrete terms.

    OK, that's a lot of backstory... Here's why I'm posting

    I was hoping anyone who has experience/insight into the area of capturing large amounts of off-line footage to external hard drives would be willing to pass on any wisdom they have and are willing to share.

    I am looking for any risks I need to minimize, (i.e. hard drive crashes are bad, footage degradation from the storage of tapes over long periods of time compared to the captured footage that stays perfect forever, etc.), any hardware to avoid, etc.

    I am a quick study (IMHO), but I do realize that I do not have enough technical knowledge to see through all the necessary issues, which is why I am posting here...

    Other things that may help give a clearer idea... We use Avid Xpress for offlining, we capture from tapes consisting of Beta, DVCPRO25, DVCPRO50, and MiniDV.

    Our online is Avid as well. All Mac's.

    At the moment, whenever we receive tapes with footage on it, we log the tapes in an excel spreadsheet, put a sticker on the tape to identify it, and then put all the tapes in a tape room. When someone needs footage, they look through the log to find what they need, find the tape(s) in the tape room, put the tape in a deck, shuttle to the right part of the tape, capture the footage to a hard drive in offline quality, edit it, etc.

    So my proposal means instead of above, as soon as we get a tape, it immediately gets captured (and still logged appropriately so it can be found on the hard drive). Of course thismeans is we will need lots of hard drive space, in the terabytes.

    So specific questions/thoughts I have from my limited knowledge...

    (Kewl, if you've made it this far, once again, thanks in advance for any/all feedback, I really appreciate you taking the time to read all this! If I'm posting in the wrong forum, or if there's a better place to post, please let me know!)

    What are your thoughts on external drives? What is a very good brand. If looking for storage in the range of terabytes, would it be better to go with more of smaller drives (i.e. 500 GB), or less of larger drives (i.e. 1 TB)?

    For now we would just be capturing at a quality that allows for offline editing, so there would definitely be some compression allowed in the footage being captured onto the hard drives, so when I say terabytes of storage, I would use a number of somewhere between 5 and 10 (I have to find out what the exact data rate we capture at is to get a really precise number, I think it's around 1 gigabyte for 5 minutes). I know 5-10 TB would last us quite a while for offlining.

    For example, I've seen Western Digital 500 GB external drives for about $300 for USB 2.0, $350 for Firewire. 500 GB would be around 40 hours of footage at 1 GB for 5 minutes. I can see our office needing upwards of 400-800 hours to get most of our significant footage onto hard drives, so that puts us in the 5-10 terabyte range.

    So I guess even more specifically, is there any brand/type of stand alone external drive you would recommend, any brands you would avoid? I believe I've heard Maxtor is pretty bad/unreliable.

    Please keep in mind, since we are a production studio, reliability is the number one need! Saving a few bucks on something that we can't be confident will hold up to everyday use would be very bad. Speed wise, it doesn't have to be the "fastest of the fast" type of drive, because the needed footage for an offline edit would just be transferred to the local computer and edited from there, nothing would ever be streaming per se from the actual storage device.

    Any thoughts/insight you are willing to provide is very much appreciated! I'm trying to do some research and gather an informed opinion before I present my official proposal, I will also be talking to our own editors, but before I do that I want to do my own research as well.

    Looking forward to some reading/feedback!

  2. #2

    Default Pete Dore

    Sounds Good in theory, Its all right at present on smaller clips , Bur if I had one the size you are talking about, I would be worried in case the whole dive crashed. It is better you stay the same at the moment untill XHDs are guarrantteed stable. Or store your Good quality DVDs and log themas you do at the moment if one goes down. you still ave the rest of your library

  3. Default

    All in all what your are proposing is the only way to go for the future. Technology will never settle down and at any point the system you choose will be outdated in a year. So don't worry and wait, jump in and do the best you can for the short future. You can update pieces of it as time goes on. Plan for money to update as part of the proposal.

    Here are some very quick thoughts. First, you will not find an external hard drive that uses USB that will be fast enough or big enough. For what you are proposing you will need a real media server that has built in redundancy, raid, for backups. Fast enough for as many people who edit to access the box. Use a high quality compression such as dv-25 (uses firewire) if that is the type of video you are shooting. (is high def on the horizon?) Keep the raw tapes for a second backup. Dub finished projects to tape or uncompressed to a DVD for backup. (depending on length)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries


    Well, I am only a home alone editor on a small PC, but I am always planning (fantasising?) and researching about my future needs...

    What I think you need are raid 5 network storage boxes. Generally regarded as super safe. Just add more boxes as you need more storge.

    Lots of people sell them, google raid 5, and/ or look at .

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