The Importance of Storage


Nino Leitner TV-Bay Magazine
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by Nino Leitner
Issue 90 - June 2014

When I was a student in film school, I never put much thought into storage solutions for my film work. This was quite haphazard and looking back on it now, quite a foolish approach to work I cherished.

Of course, my story has a nasty sting in its tail - one day I lost a years worth of university work, which I never got back. I was lucky that it didnt stop me completing my studies successfully, but I definitely dodged a bullet.

Since that painful lesson, storage has been as much a concern to my professional career as what camera to use on a shoot.

For content creators, our profession is our livelihood. Any production relies on a host of technologies, all of which must provide quality outputs and perform at an optimum level, and the same demands should be made of storage devices. Simply put, cheap, off the shelf solutions arent suitable for the professional creative.

With 4k becoming more prevalent, and files size increasing so rapidly, the need for reliable, desktop and portable, speedy storage solutions can no longer be pushed to the back of a professionals mind.

There are some simple tricks and tips for those working in the industry to ensure that none of their hard work is lost. Below I outline nine approaches which will help optimise your workflow and also ensure you look after all your content in the most professional manner possible.

Having enough camera cards

Most of us arent lucky enough to have a DIT on hand for the majority of our jobs, thats why I bring countless camera cards with me, which I go through during an entire day of shooting. It saves me from having to back up in an on-set environment (which can of course be very stressful) and the more cards you have, the more your mind can relax and get on with the task at hand.

Use fast cards

If you can afford to invest in cards that are faster than your cameras needs, it will make the backup process significantly faster. Usually my shooting days last 10-16 hours, so the last thing I want to face up to is additional hours backing up my work. If you use poor quality storage solutions, this will increase the needless amount of time youll be staring at a computer screen.

Using Fast drives

I use industry-best hard drives from G-Technology to give me complete peace of mind over my content. I shoot a lot with my Canon C300 and I love to use my G-DRIVE ev (via USB 3.0) after a shoot. I make backups on the G-DRIVE ev and once Im back in the studio, I create a third copy via the G-DOCK ev (via Thunderbolt) because its so fast with up to 136 MB/s sustained data transfer rates. I love the G-DRIVE evs as they dont require a main power source, simply hook them up to your laptop and they power up through USB, which lightens your gear bag while on a shoot you can leave the power cable behind.
In my earlier days I used drives that were slower, and much to my horror one day dragged on for an extra 3-4 hours as I sat waiting for three backups to complete.

Use transfer management software


After a shoot, to make backing up my content as simple as possible, I use ShotPut Pro, a piece of transfer management software. It allows you to make verified copies of your content for up to five drives simultaneously. Most importantly, it will tell you if theres a problem with a transfer so you dont need to worry about doing it manually to each drive. Combined with my G-Technology drives, such software cuts down on my backup process, which means I have critical time to prepare for the next day of shooting (or once in a blue moon to relax).

Make three copies

Always make three copies of everything one copy which is a master copy, one which is a backup copy and a final copy which is stored off-site. This approach ensures that even if something awful occurs, which is outside of your control (such as a fire), all is not lost. If you have three copies it takes away nearly all risk, so for example I will have three copies of my content stored on three G-DRIVE evs, (thanks to my G-DOCK ev creating the final copy).

Your three copies should be spread geographically

When making three copies, separate one from another geographically - for example I always give the third copy to my assistant so he can take this copy to his hotel room or he gives it directly to the client. This way, no matter what happens, I have a copy in a trusted pair of hands. Would you rather take the sensible approach and ensure a happy client or risk losing work, which would call your professionalism into question?

Use software for regular backups

I shoot a lot of content; this means I want a solution that will create regular backups. I use ChronoSync because I have a huge degree of control over what drives I want to backup and when. For example, ChronoSync recognises specific hard drives when plugged in (and will automatically back them up because of this) and I can set a timer to backup work every day if I like. For me, each day at 6pm my active drives are automatically backed up, and half the time Im not even in the studio but thanks to software like this, I know my content is consistently being protected.

If using a drive 24/7 Make sure its an Enterprise-Class HDD


From personal experience, I find that desktop external storage solutions that utilise enterprise-class 3.5-inch drives are less likely to fail if they are under permanent strain (and used for a number of days non-stop). Most of G-Technologys RAID external storage solution use enterprise-class drives, which are tested in extended application and temperature ranges to ensure they can withstand constant use. Ive never had a G-technology drive fail on me.

Spin up drives once a year


Do you have loads of drives hanging around the attic that you havent spun up in a long time? If so, get them out and spin them up once a year because I find that drives that have been idle on the shelf fail more easily they are mechanical devices and like a car, your old hard drives needs to be serviced or it theyll breakdown - you can quote me on that!

Putting thought into your storage needs has now become, in my opinion, as important as what camera you use on a shoot. If you fail to prepare adequately, you may be in for a nasty surprise. My advice is to invest in quality solutions to ensure you dont endure a nightmare like I had during my college days.


Tags: iss090 | G-Technology | storage | Nino Leitner
Contributing Author Nino Leitner

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