This is a question I am getting a lot…and one I asked myself. I have done a lot of research and while a Medea fibrechannel array, or an Apple Xserve Raid, would be nice, they are out of our price range, and more muscle than we need for DVCPRO HD. I was looking at SATA Arrays, like the one BIG DISK has to offer (, and one by FirmTek that mentioned ( I mentioned this to my producer, and he said that yes, those are nice and will work for what we do, but he spoke to several people who said that the G-Raid was rock solid. And if anything happened to the G5, if it went down, than all we have to do is take the project file (that we back up daily to the G-Raids) and the G-Raids to another machine and plug them in and continue editing.

Well, why re-type all that he said? Here is his e-mail to me:

“The concept of SATA raid is not a bad idea at all. I discussed this with
Mike Curtis, who likes building his own SATA raids with “burlybox”
enclosures. (I think some company actually makes a single card with 8 SATA
ports so you can raid 8 separate drives.) In fact, I believe G-Raid is now
making their own form of SATA as well. Now … why I opted not to go that

#1 I already own 2 G-raids which have been proven by many folks to work well
with DVCPRO HD on FCP. For me, editing 10bit SD on the last project,
which is even more demanding than DVCPRO HD, the G-raids were rock
solid. NEVER a glitch or a dropped frame. They use some kind of “secret
sauce” involving fans, bridges and drive choices that gives them reliability
and speed consistency right to the end of the drives (unlike Lacies which
lose speed big-time as the drives fill up. I’m not sure how the drives
filling up affects SATA speeds.)

#2 I can get a tech from G-Raid on the phone (it may even be the guy who owns
the company) if I have a question or problem in 2 minutes. Their support is
unreal, plus they’re based here in LA if I ever need a quick swapout. If
you’ve ever noticed on the LAFCP or Creative Cow G-Raid sites, a frequent
response from a G-raid tech is “call me” and they give the phone number.
That, today, is amazing.

#3 If I have a G5 problem, I can pull the G-raid from the FW port, put it on
any G5 (or a G4 desktop or Powerbook) equipped with FCP and a FW800 port (or
in the case of DVCPRO HD even a FW400 port) and be back in business. On the
Anaheim show, I actually took my 12 inch Powerbook and a G-raid and was able to
cut away. Rendering was of course slower, but the real need-for-speed for FCP comes
at the time of capturing and rendering. You can edit on a much slower machine. In fact,
the data rate for transferring DVCPRO HD from the 1200A deck is so low that
the deck only has a FW400 port. (Of course it has an HD/SDI port for
uncompressed transfers.)

If I’m working on a SATA raid and need, for whatever reason, to switch to
another G5, that machine needs to have a SATA card installed with the right
number of ports. And apparently all SATA cards are not created equal. Any
G5 has FW800 ready to go. Which also means when it’s time to finish, I can
take a G-raid to Filmlook (or wherever), plug it into the FW800 port of
their G5 and easily transfer either a rendered movie file or the actual
media files to be pulled up with the project file. If the project’s on a
SATA raid, that could be a problem as most of the big houses use Xraids on
Fibrechannel cards but all their machines have FW800 ports. They may or may
not have the right SATA configurations.

#4 A tech at the DR group (whom I consider my “main man” for FCP support)
claims that he has found SATA, while being the best bang-for-the-buck, a bit
unstable. And even though his own company makes and sells its own brand of
SATA raid, he doesn’t recommend them. (Of course his first choice is the
high-end Apple Xraid but he also likes the G-raids.)

#5 The best deal in SATA is definitely the “roll your own approach” as you
and Mike described. I have a natural distrust for anything hi-tech that I
build myself. And if I’ve assembled something with drives from A,
enclosures from B, fans from C, and a card from D, that spells tech-support
pass-the-buck nightmare if something goes wrong.

#6 Having a RAID 5 instead of 0 is obviously a good thing. Plus you should
be able to get better speed out of a SATA raid than a G-raid. But when I
weighed all the pros and cons and figured I’d be duplicating G-raids anyway
(editor and I each having a drive or drives with the same media), that took
care of the backup issue.

I fully expect that down-the-line, SATA raids will be the raid of choice for
video editing. I’ve been expecting Apple to replace their ATA-based Xraids
(2-3 year old technology) with SATA raids. Everybody says SCSI is history
and SATA is the future. Apple hasn’t gone there because they know the ATA
configuration is “bulletproof” and SATA’s not, at least not yet.
For me, the day Apple announces SATA Xraids will be the day
SATA becomes “blessed”.

All that said, there’s no reason at all why you couldn’t go the SATA route
if that works for you. We’d just capture on a G-raid here and instead of
making a dupe for you here to work with, we’d get you the G-raid with
captured media and you could transfer the same bin configuration to your
SATA raid via the firewire 800 built into your G5. You’d have to make the
dupe on your end, as I don’t have a SATA card or room for one. (The one big
negative about G5’s … not enough slots.) The main very important issue is
to make sure that the project files would read the same whether the media
was on a G-raid or a SATA so I could play back your cuts with your just
emailing me a project file.”