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.