Sunday, July 06, 2008

RAIDing the Tower


If your a hard-core computer geek, this blog entry will be better than internet porn. And a welcome respite from my usual production dribbling. If you aren't a geek, then please bear with me. This won't take long.

Non Linear Editing (NLE) requires a great deal of preparation. Especially when deadlines and keeping track of copious amounts of footage are of vital importance. I think back to my first time editing on a computer. It was a college project called "A Matter of Life and Death". Yeah, heavy stuff...but not really. So, a few days before the 3-minute assignment was due, I lost everything. Poof...gone. I hadn't saved properly and had to go back and start all over. Luckily I managed to finish the project and restore balance to the universe.

For this project, there was no way I was going to go through that mess again. I needed a data storage setup that would do two things: One, backup all project files and raw footage. An exact copy of all files is insurance policy of sorts. Two, increase the efficiency of reading and writing data. I need the machine to save and grab files quickly.

Sure, having enough hard drive space is important. Especially when there's a lot of footage. But I also need to have something in place that will prevent the loss of important files. At no point, during the editing process, can I lose anything. RAID acts like a safety net. So what is RAID?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks and it's basically a system for replicating and dividing data across hard drives. Most computers have one hard drive, which is ample in most instances. For this project, I have four internal hard drives and two external hard drives for backup.

Now, I didn't know that much about RAID before I embarked on this journey. Hell, I still don't know a lot about RAID. So please take what I say with a grain of salt. After doing some research, I discovered that there isn't a consensus among filmmakers as to which RAID configuration (or level) works best for editing video or film. So what level was I going to go with? Well, RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 5 are the most popular. If you'd like more info. on what each one does, feel free to Google RAID.

Now, RAID isn't an easy thing. It requires a RAID card for the computer and multiple hard drives. Originally I had planned on going with RAID 5, then I decided on RAID 10. Jeff and I chatted and he thought I should go with a RAID 0 setup across three internal, identical hard drives. The advantage to this setup is the amount of storage capacity that I gain: Almost 3 TB (Tera bytes). RAID 0 also stripes across the three drives, making the machine work much more efficiently. The disadvantage to RAID 0 is that there's no backup or mirroring of drives. Jeff and I decided to back all program files and raw footage onto an external hard drive. That way, if anything goes down, I can always re-import footage or grab the latest version of an edit. For extra safety, we are also considering backing up to a second external hard drive, which we can store off site. Overkill? Perhaps. But it's better to be safe than sorry. Especially with a November 30th deadline looming on the horizon.

So there you have it. I've RAID-ed the computer tower and for all intents and purposes am ready to start importing footage. Hopefully that will happen next week.

Oh, one more thing: I've been working behind-the-scenes with Zach Gildersleeve, a talented graphics designer. He's putting together the "Coming Soon" website for this project, which should be up and running within the next week and a half. We will launch the website and finally release the name of our project, both on the same day. Zach's work is amazing and I think his visuals will be a tremendous addition to the project. I'll update everyone on the website prior to it's launch. I'm also going to provide weekly updates on the project starting Mid-August.

1 comment:

The Maag Family said...

Is this the huge project you were doing when you were so kind to meet me in Murray?
You're the BEST!

Oh, and I'm not super versed in computer jive, and that still was HOT! ;)