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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for April, 2008

It hasn’t been a good week for my hard drives.

On Wednesday my old G-Raid…the one I bought four years ago…finally gave up the ghost. It had begun clicking over the weekend when I was copying footage to and from it, which is not a good sign. It did this before, when I owned it for about a year. But, I took it to G-tech in Santa Monica and in two days, I had it back in my hands. The same thing happened back then…clicking when copying.

Well, after a few days of the clicking…it decided not to show up on my desktop at all. Nor in the Disk Utility. And the warranty expired. So I cracked open the case, pulled out the two PATA drives and connected them both directly to the computer via a spare PATA firewire case I have lying about. One worked, the other did not. Dead drive. Fine, I relegated it as a Clone Drive for my G5 and tossed the bad drive in the trash.

Then comes Saturday.

I need to work one day this weekend on my current show, and I had copied all the media used in that project to my main S2VR Duo from Caldigit. I was editing fine on it with this project for weeks now. But on Saturday, it was acting up. Well, to be totally honest, it had been acting up for a while. A few months ago, I would try to copy large files to it and it would get only so far before it would hang…all the activity lights would stop, and one of them would remain solidly on. I would turn it off, back on, try again…hang. Since I always have a backup of my footage, I reformatted the drive, rebuilt the raid, and tried again. Nope…same error. I called CalDigit, they ran me through the paces of doing all that again, but also updating their drivers…tried again in vain. They figured it was a bad power converter and sent me a new power cord and brick. That did solve the issue.

Then it started again. Three weeks ago. Same issue. Any file larger than 2GB caused the drive to hang. Again, called CalDigit, directed to remove drivers, download and install new ones, in specific order. It worked. For a a couple. Then it was hanging again. So again, reformat, copy footage. Got it working…until the current issue this weekend.

I thought it might be the card, as my Dark Tower homemade RAID (my backup unit) had an issue starting up once…said the drives weren’t recognized. A restart solved that. Then I was gone all day today…at the beach. Came back, worked on m project for an hour…no issues. I thought all was well when…render caused the drive to hang. It seems that the drive needed to warm up before it decided to stop working.

Well, this is why I have backups. The Unit is under warranty, and drives do fail…fact of life. Time for a call to tech support to get this replaced. Thank goodness for warrantees. And…that goodness that I back up my footage. I do this because the Duo is a RAID 0 box, meaning one drive goes, they all go. If I had a nice fancy RAID 5 unit in here (a product on the horizon), then I wouldn’t be backing up like I do. But, I have the space, and I am paranoid.

This is just to let you all know that this stuff happens. Drive technology, as good as it is, isn’t infallible. I’m not mad, I’m not pulling my hair out…OK, I am a little miffed. But I have backups in place, so little time was lost on this.

MORAL? Always have a backup plan.

EDIT: Just got off the phone with Jon at CalDigit and a replacement plan is in place. Shipping back the Duo and the card so they can figure out what is going on.

Part 1, containing answers #1-#15.

Part 2, containing answers #16-#30.

Part 3, containing answers #31-#45.

These are the Stock Answers to commonly asked questions that I post all over the forums. Some are dated, but are still useful and a lot are timeless. The Creative Cow calls them “the ULTIMATE FCP FAQ.” Not sure if it is the ultimate (thanks guys), but it is pretty comprehensive.

Another great place to find answers to frequently asked questions is the FCP FAQ “corral” at LAFCPUG.

While perusing the DVXUser forums I came across this blog post on MySpace about a feature film that was lost due to a hard drive failure.

They don’t go into a whole heck of a lot of details here, other to say that it was a DVCPRO HD film, and that they lost their RAID 0 drive array, thus they lost EVERYTHING. Imported footage and apparently the originals. I can only assume that they shot using the HVX-200 and put the original card dumps onto this same raid. This is a big huge NO NO. And this is why. Lose a drive…lose everything. This is a lesson these guys surely will never forget, and I hope one no one else has to experience. Hard drives are cheap…cheaper than re-shooting and bringing people back, and losing the good performances you got the first time. Get one hard drive to back up the P2 cards to…maybe two to have redundant backup. A FirewireVR is a good choice as it can be set up as a MIRRORED Raid…RAID 1. And the drives are removable. Or, if you have a MacPro, you can get bare SATA drives and back up that way, like I do.

And if you must run a RAID 0, you might consider backing up that footage to more drives. Or better yet, go RAID 5 if you can afford it. Redundancy in case a drive failes. Caldigit, MaxxDigital, Dulce Systems, Sonnet Technology, G-Technology all offer Raid 5 options. If you can’t afford Raid 5, then make sure that you have plenty of backups…tape, P2 or EX1 or RED backed up to hard drives. I cannot stress this more. PLEASE learn from other people’s mistakes before you are forced to learn from your own.

Every now and then when I am looking at transcriptions or a script that uses sections from transcriptions, you find the oddest terminology used. And this is often due to the transcriber not hearing what the interviewer says correctly. So what they end up typing comes out COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than what was said. Often with confusing, or hilarious results.

For example…

“And I think people accosted the world, like Gloria Steinam…”

Actually, the guy said..

“And I think people across the world, like Gloria Steinam…”

Look to the right of the blog…in that big list of stuff…and you will notice that I have added a new element. Larry Jordan has started a new service called the Final Cut Studio Tip of the Day, and is releasing the feed to any blogger who wants to add it. Well, I love FCS tips, as I always learn some small thing I never knew before…and that is always cool.

Enjoy.

EDIT: I now find myself visiting my OWN SITE to see the tip of the day. That is so cool. THANKS LARRY!

Dudes and dudettes, if you want to see a bunch of what NAB has to offer, including info on the Panasonic cameras and RED, you HAVE to see the great set of video blogs that they have to offer.

I really liked the Panasonic ones. VERY informative…since I couldn’t get there myself.

So here I am, at NAB working in the Matrox booth touting the MXO. When I arrived on Sunday, I dropped off my bags at the hotel and walked to the convention center (I am very close). Got there, found that the booth is right next to the front doors in the South Hall. Nice. I drop by the booth, see the usual stuff. But…one station has “MATROX ####.” TAPE over the product name. Hmmm…I heard that they were talking about a new product. And they did ask me “hey, what would you like to see in the next MXO.” Looks like they listened to most of what I wanted.

MATROX MXO 2 is what was under that tape. And when I got there they pulled out this box…


This shouldn’t be called the Matrox MXO 2, this needs to be called Matrox MXI/O, because that is what it does. INPUT AND OUTPUT. It inputs HD SDI, Component, Composite, S-Video, HDMI, AES/EBU audio, two channels of XLR. Then it outputs the same, except for FOUR channels of XLR audio, and 6 RCA audio outputs. What does it capture? Well, anything that FCP supports. DVCPRO HD, ProRes…and uncompressed HD. Uncompressed HD? But..how? Well, because it doesn’t connect via firewire. On the tower, it connects to the PCIe board…it ships with a PCIe connector card. AND, it also ships with an Express34 card for the MacBook Pro. Now, you aren’t going to get uncompressed on the laptop, but you can do ProRes. Because it connects to the Express34 slot, you are limited to Firewire drives. But a good raided firewire drive like the FirewireVR from CalDigit or the G-Raid from G-Tech and there you go…ProRes.

Now, it doesn’t have the PreRes encoder in the hardware like the AJA I/O HD…that is one of the big differences. It relies on the computer to provide the muscle to do the conversion, so you will need a pretty recent Intel Mac to do this. But, it does capture to uncompressed, and does have HDMI inputs so you can capture from the smaller HDMI cameras and bypass the HDV compression.

And it upconverts standard def to 720p or 1080i, and it can cross convert 720p to 1080i and 1080i to 720p…it is VERY light, just a little heavier than the original MXO.

Oh, and it costs $1600.

This is due out in July, so when I get my hands on one I will run it through the paces and verify that it can do all that they claim. Still, it looks exciting and I am really glad that I am working the Matrox Booth this year, so that I could get the inside skinny.

EDIT: OH…OH…OH…more. Sorry, I was rushed, trying to work and post at the same time. So…more.

Built in black burst for SD, and built in TRI-SYNC for HD.
Battery powered. You can connect Anton Baur battries to the box and power it that way for true to life field monitoring/capture.
Built in RS-422 machine control.
HDMI Monitor calibration. What the MXO does with the Apple Display, this does with an HDMI monitor…bars with blue only option.

CONNECTIVITY! Can’t forget to mention that. On a tower it connects via a PCIe card that you install on the bus…that is how they get uncompressed HD. ON a laptop it connects via Express34. And the unit is supposed to ship with both cards in the box.

And it is still only $1600.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

NAB 2008 – Las Vegas, NV – April 14, 2008 – Matrox® Video Products Group today announced Matrox MXO2. Designed to streamline editing workflow with Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Production Premium on MacBook Pros and Mac Pros, Matrox MXO2 provides broadcast-quality input/output, monitoring, and up/down/cross conversion. Users can benefit from file-based workflows with native support for XDCAM, XDCAM HD, XDCAM EX, and P2. In addition, they are not limited to using a single codec as with some other I/O devices on the market.

“Matrox is leading the way in mobile editing on the Mac,” said Alberto Cieri, Matrox sales and marketing director. “Broadcasters tell us they need a way to upload video from laptops in the field and MXO2 is our answer for them. It’s lightweight, fits in a laptop bag, and runs for hours on a field battery. It’s also a complete I/O solution for post facilities, at an incredibly affordable price point.”

Matrox MXO2 will be demonstrated at NAB 2008 in booth SL320.

Key features of Matrox MXO2

Truly portable – fits in your laptop bag, runs off a field battery (or its AC adapter)
HD/SD SDI, HD/SD analog component, Y/C, and composite inputs and outputs
Genlock – SD analog black burst (bi-level) or HD tri-level sync
HDMI input, output, and monitoring with calibration controls including blue-only
10-bit realtime hardware up/down/cross conversion
Up to five user selectable simultaneous video outputs – HD and/or SD on HDMI, SDI, and analog
Professional audio inputs and outputs with 5.1 surround sound monitoring
RS-422 machine control for frame-accurate capture and print-to-tape
Captures to a variety of codecs – Apple ProRes 422 HQ, 10-bit uncompressed HD and many more
Supports file-based workflows – XDCAM, XDCAM HD, XDCAM EX, P2
Works with Final Cut Pro, Apple Color, Adobe Premiere Pro and all QuickTime applications that support the V-out component
For use with Intel-based MacBook Pros and Mac Pros
Price and availability
Priced at $1,595 US in North America (£899, €1,295) not including local taxes, Matrox MXO2 will be available in July 2008 through a worldwide network of authorized dealers.

Quickly, here is the Panasonic Press Release. More if I have ANY time to go see this stuff in person. But there is the rumored HVX-200a sporting new 1/3″ CCD imagers, a NEW handheld P2 HD camera, the HPX170, a new 64GB P2 card (4 hours at 720p24!) and a new 5 slot P2 Varicam.

MAN why don’t I get more time to wander around? GAH this is killing me!

Phil Hodgetts of the Digital Production Buzz went to the Avid Event here in Los Angeles and saw Avid present their latest announcements in the Avid product line. This article is a pretty good read, even if you aren’t into Avid. It does make one start to lean back in that direction.

I will report more personal feelings about the product after I meet with Avid at NAB.

Yes, I am going to NAB this year. No, I won’t be there for the entire show…this year will be a short stint. The show I am working on cannot spare me the entire week. They can barely spare the two days I will be gone.

This year I will be working at the Matrox Booth (sorry, I don’t know the booth number) showing off the MXO, as well as the Panasonic P2 workflow. Because it is a tapeless format, there is no real need for a capture card, so the MXO is a perfectly viable solution to this format, as well as for the Sony the EX1.

But enough of my “sales pitch.” Even though Apple and Avid won’t have booths, it is still shaking up to be a big show. A LOT of people I know from various blogs and forums are coming, so I will get to meet a lot of my online friends. And I will be going to a small meeting with Avid to see what they have to offer besides the lowered prices. According to Steve at Splice Here there is a new thing called Avid DX…with Mojo DX and Symphony DX. So I can’t wait to hear this all first hand.

And since I will only be there for 2 days, working both, I won’t get to see much myself. But, when I get back I will write about what I did see, and hear from Avid.

And are at NAB if you want to meet me, now you know where to find me.

EDIT: A buddy from my TWITTER list has sent me the booth info. The Matrox booth is # SL320. If you are in Vegas, I’ll see you there.

Sorry to go off topic today, but I just had to share this. This Peanuts cartoon appeared in the paper on my birthday, which was a few days ago:

Points awarded to the first person to get the reference.

The EditBlog is suffering from technical difficulties lately due to issues with his hosting company. The result is a lack of pictures or working links in the blog. You can still read what he has to say, you just can’t see what he is talking about…if he provided pictures… nor go to a place he is talking about…if he provided links. He will be back up soon…we hope.

Talking about Scott Simmons, this week on The Digital Production Buzz, Scott will be one of the guests, and he will be talking about the recent article/rant he wrote on Studio Daily talking about how young FCP editors seem to lack certain basic knowledge when it comes to post. I mentioned this a few posts ago. I know I will be tuning in.

EDIT: The EditBlog is back up and running! Pictures and all. Nice. Now, be sure not to miss his interview on The Digital Production Buzz tomorrow…

As you may or may not know, RED is set to announce their new “pocketcam,” code named SCARLET, at the upcoming NAB Show. This announcement has generated quite a bit of buzz, and many people, myself included, are looking forward to this camera.

I have a few friends who work on the RED project and one of them has been secretly chatting with me about it. They said that they were impressed with the camera design as it lends itself to being inconspicuous…so that you can get those much wanted candid shots without drawing too much attention to yourself. Unlike the main RED camera that looks like a weapon out of Star Trek, they took a different approach with this camera. My friend snuck a quick snap of this camera with his iPhone and e-mailed the picture to me last night. I’m so impressed with this design I had to post it.

Quick, before I am ordered to remove the link.

SCARLET PIC

EDIT: APRIL FOOLS!