Small Production Footprint: Storage

For the on-board production, the plan was to ingest all footage via the Mac Mini server to create a Final Cut Pro X Event – for the day, the sub-day or the story . The funny thing is, I questioned Apple’s use of “Event” in Final Cut Pro X until I had to try and find a term to cover the same ground. Event seems to work as well as anything.

The Event would be initially in an “Initial Ingests” area on the G-Tech G-Speed Q. This would be a protection copy of the media. I like the small physical size of the G-Speed RAID, which was an important factor in the somewhat cramped conditions on the boat. The power-managed startup sequence was also an advantage with limited 110v available.

From the ingest Event an XML  file was to be exported and then merged with Event metadata logged real time. The result is a new FCP X Event, with the logging added. This would be our working Event.

Working Events were to be placed in an area on our metaLAN network from where it could be moved to the editor’s metaLAN Location (on the G-speed RAIDs) and accessed from MacBook Pros via Ethernet for editing. (metaLAN also worked fine over 802.11N with our 24 Mbit/sec material, but since we had the opportunity to run wire, why not go for the security of copper?) This all worked fine in testing, including the logging app.

In practice we never got to set up that way. For the “Road to Ra” footage, we were shooting location and most of the production kit remained in boxes. I was ingesting and logging in the evenings while staying at my very good friend Dan Spiess’ place.  After realizing we weren’t going to be on Ra “in just a few days” back in May, Dan and his wife Barbara opened his home to me and I’m very grateful.

The RAIDs were never set up in the May/June production period, and only for a few days on the boat in July. So that setup was never used beyond testing. The G-Speed Q RAIDs are now at the center of my editing world with a direct connection.

During the May/June period I was doing backups, as planned, to USB memory sticks. I’d pre-purchased (for a good price) 50 each 8 and 16 GB USB memory sticks that would hold copies of the metadata-enhanced Event, and Projects as they were completed. The goal was to send redundant copies (two separate mailings) as “off boat” backups. We had production redundancy on board by mirroring the RAID 5 to another G-Speed Q, but a boat is a delicate environment. Relatively easy to burgle and there’s always the remotest possibility of a total loss (although Ra was very, very stable in the water the times I was on the boat in June). Having no off-boat backup did not seem prudent.

We used that method for backups in May/June and even sent some packets back in the short time we were on the Odyssey itself. In hindsight I’d buy more 16GB and some 32GB USB memory sticks as some Events exceeded 30GB.  I’m sure I could have  simplify the Event by breaking it up, as I did for July 22nd, where I had one Event encompassing the time up until Ra rounds the Clearwater Aquarium to start her journey, and another Event for the footage on board from that time. Doing it by day seemed the most logical to me the rest of the time though, so larger memory sticks would have been desirable.