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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old January 2nd, 2008, 01:28 PM   #1
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New XH-A1 User Looking For Comments On System

I am very, very new to all of this, but would like to get started with a decent system that will influence the creative parts of putting together video material, instead of focusing on why technical problems (i.e. things not working properly or not fast enough, etc, etc.).

Here is the system I am currently putting together (I have most of these pieces in my possession, and will be obtaining the others soon):

INTEL Motherboard Core 2 Quad Socket 775 1333MHz PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) (RAID)
Intel Duo Core Processor 2.4 GHz
Four (4) Crucial Ballistic 1GB RAM Modules (DDR2-800 MHz per Mother Board)
O/S - Windows Vista
Two (2) 750GB (7200 RPM) Hitachi Deskstar SATA Hard Drives
Sony Blu-Ray 2x DVD Burner
ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT Video Card (HDCP)
Hewlett Packard W2408 (24” Widescreen Monitor) (HDCP)
Sony Vegas Pro 8
Cineform Neo HD
Firestore FS4HD
Canon XH-A1 Camera

I’m thinking that this is everything I will need in order to get started, but if anyone has any additional comments or suggestions I would very much appreciate it. I will initially be shooting some instructional videos in full HD (automotive in nature, kind of like you see on those shows on SPEED TV fixing stuff in a garage).

I will be using some home-made lighting to start (a couple of basic Home Depot Flourescent lighting fixtures hung from microphone stands up front, with a saucer shaped worker lamp for the back light).

I’ve also been looking at the following Books and Videos to get me started (let me know what you think):

DV Filmmaking: From Start To Finish
http://www.amazon.com/DV-Filmmaking-...9300530&sr=8-1

VASST - What You Need To Know – 2nd Edition
http://www.vasst.com/product.aspx?id...0-0ad68139e940

VASST – Inside The Canon XH-A1 (DVD) – Douglas Spotted Eagle
http://www.vasst.com/product.aspx?id...a-9d5315f4ee3d

VASST – Absolute Training For Vegas (9 DVD Course)
http://www.vasst.com/product.aspx?id...2-5193e57b427b

Sorry for the Long Post.
Thank You, Spiro.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 03:59 PM   #2
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wow Sprio sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun & have spec'd out quite a kit so far... this could be a really long thread, I'm sure you'll get a lot of input...

my 2 cents is as follows, some of it more questions than answers but just for your consideration:
- do you already have vista? you may want to check the vegas forum here or on sony's site just to see how people are doing with it on vista (vs. XP)
- cineform - if you're using anythng other than the component output from your cam, you'll be getting HDV, which is 1440x1080, and I think the Neo is the 10 bit 1920x1080 version which is a bit more $$... you may want to go with the neo HDV version
- firestore - make sure you check the posts in this forum .. if you're doing many short takes, you may be in a more controlled situation and have good results with the firestore ... if you are dead set on using hard drive capture, I'd also check into nnovia which seems to get good ratings (I am looking too and after reading don't think I'd go with firestore .. would go with nnovia or even see what the cineform guys come out with but that doesn't seem to be immediate).
- audio - you don't list any audio, so may want to paruse the audio forum here and I would think go with either a lav or boom or both.. would also recommend a mixer to give you better pre-amps than the A1 and also a little more control .. I use the PSC DV promix which isn't the same $$ as a SD 302 (or higher) but seems to give decent quality for a starter kit (and is only around $500 or a little less vs. $1300 for the 302).
- BR burners ... I don't want to dissuade you from this but will your audience have BR players, HD DVD players or .. neither? if you don't expect a big need for HD right away, you could use some of the $$ from the burner to pay for the audio which will take $$
- tripod - I'd invest in a decent tripod and head, if you check that section of the forum you'll see quite a few recommnedations .. I have the bogen (manfratto) 503 head w 351 sticks and like it quite a bit, and since then bogen's come out with an HDV head or newer version which feels really nice (also, depending on the kind of shots you'll want, either some wheels for your tripod and/or a rig like the dv multi rig, varizoom or other to give you a bit more of a steady shot when moving around the car, etc. )
- lanc controller ... will help keep your hands off the camera and if you're going to zoom in / out for tighter shots may be worth it.. the varizoom works with the A1 but there are others too

food for thought .. anyway the only reason I mention these things is that your kit looks extensive so maybe you have a way to fund some of these expensive things... if you had to prioritize (don't we always), I'd probably drop the mixer first as with audio in a controlled situation, you could adjust your levels on camera and control things that way if necessary - may even drop the firestore (et al) before some of the others, and capture on tape
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 09:28 PM   #3
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XH-A1 and other items

Dave,

Thanks for the detailed response. I was able to do some additional digging based on some of your comments.

I will take a look at using Vista versus XP. The last that I checked on some threads on these boards people were using Vegas Pro 8, Cineform Neo, etc without any problems on Vista. I guess I could try it and if it gives me trouble jump back to Win XP Pro.

I just noticed that about the XH-A1. Yes, you are correct, the Cineform HDV should work just fine with the Canon.

I did read about some people on various threads here having various issues with the Firestore FS4HD. Some were having problems with the non-FS-C units writing to quicktime format at a certain frame rate (24, 30), while others were having problems with the unit clipping frames every 9 minutes or so (apparently there was a DOS work-around to this posted on this site). Others seemed to feel as if the unit was much too finicky and too prone to various physical errors (i.e. possible Firewire cable problems, hard drive problems, low battery alarms, erratic software, etc). On the other hand, some people that I read that have been using it to record HD .m2t files from thier HD cameras, and then running it straight into Cineform HD and into Vegas Pro 8 have not been having any issues. I'm wondering if Cineform allows the user to bypass the whole DOS work-around in regards to realigning the split FS4HD files. I think for the price (compared with other units) it may be worth a try (while keeping tape in the machine as back-up), although it has definitely dropped down the todem pole at this point. Thanks for the heads-up.

In regards to audio, the only reason I didn't include anything on my list is that I also have a small home music recording studio. I have some very good Microtech Gefell condenser mics, and some Shure SM-57s. Although, a Lav mic might work very well for my application too. I guess you need a transmitter and reciever for the LAV mic? Does the reciever plug into the XH-A1 XLR? With regards to the mixer, I already have a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro for my music stuff (has Makie preamps built-in, phanton power, etc.). I can use the preamps on that unit and output the stereo mix back to the XH-A1 XLR mic inputs. That is where the R/L outputs from the mixer would go, right?

Good call on the Blu-Ray burner. I may just use it to provide an option to anyone who may want to try the video on Blu-Ray. It's all up in the air at the moment with regards to format, but I'll call it a bit of a luxury item at this point.

I checked out the Bogen 503HDV head on B&H and it looks good. Another site has a buget videographer article that points to this combo unit using the 3046 legs instead of the 351 you mentioned (not a bad price too, but the 351 legs look a bit more solid [not sure by just looking at the picture though]): http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ipod_Legs.html

Remote control stuff may come later. I also read a book that had a great "Do It Yourself" dolly made from 12 foot long steel poles and a wooden t-frame with roller blade wheels to roll the tripod along the frame for dolly shots.

Thans again for all the great advice.

Spiro.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 11:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiro Kalogeropoulos View Post
Dave,

Thanks for the detailed response. I was able to do some additional digging based on some of your comments.

I will take a look at using Vista versus XP. The last that I checked on some threads on these boards people were using Vegas Pro 8, Cineform Neo, etc without any problems on Vista. I guess I could try it and if it gives me trouble jump back to Win XP Pro.

Thans again for all the great advice.

Spiro.
My experience in running Vista on my laptop (32 bit Home Premium edition) has not been all happy times and good cheer. It takes longer to load, seems to require a lot more system resources to run than XP, and some very nice programs such as Smart Sound 4 don't seem to run well on it.
On the bright side, it does seem maybe a little more stable. Doesn't crash as much.
Still, If you can, I would seriously consider XP. Dell and some others offer XP as an option on new machines.
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 09:31 AM   #5
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hi Spiro - a few thoughts based on your post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiro Kalogeropoulos View Post
I will take a look at using Vista versus XP. The last that I checked on some threads on these boards people were using Vegas Pro 8, Cineform Neo, etc without any problems on Vista. I guess I could try it and if it gives me trouble jump back to Win XP Pro.
yes, although given the work to re-image, etc. may be worthwhile trying to decide up front as much as possible - my vegas and cineform has been pretty stable on XP (and cost? not sure if you have access to both)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiro Kalogeropoulos View Post
I did read about some people on various threads here having various issues with the Firestore FS4HD. Some were having problems with the non-FS-C units writing to quicktime format at a certain frame rate (24, 30), while others were having problems with the unit clipping frames every 9 minutes or so (apparently there was a DOS work-around to this posted on this site). Others seemed to feel as if the unit was much too finicky and too prone to various physical errors (i.e. possible Firewire cable problems, hard drive problems, low battery alarms, erratic software, etc). On the other hand, some people that I read that have been using it to record HD .m2t files from thier HD cameras, and then running it straight into Cineform HD and into Vegas Pro 8 have not been having any issues. I'm wondering if Cineform allows the user to bypass the whole DOS work-around in regards to realigning the split FS4HD files. I think for the price (compared with other units) it may be worth a try (while keeping tape in the machine as back-up), although it has definitely dropped down the todem pole at this point. Thanks for the heads-up.
Cineform being a codec won't do anything different for OS based file restrictions. the files encoded with cineform's codec still have to live in DOS, either FAT32 or NTFS, etc. (for m$oft os). the work arounds are only worth it if the benefits outweigh them, those being time savings from capture and maybe not for your situation, but either very long takes (live performances > 1 hour) or 4 hour events ease of logging, etc. But, even with the FS or other, you'll still have to encode to cineform (assuming you use it), which is an extra step. It's not a cheap experiment so I'd recommend to think it through cost vs. benefit before the purchase. Even if you have to return or pay a restocking fee, it may not be worth it. One reason for the dual recording (tape and hard drive) in your case would be if you are taping a procedure where you could not go back and re-do the take later if you had a drop out (e.g. assembling an engine, etc. - not sure what you will be taping), in which case I'd look closely at the nnovia also (or cineform product TBA).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiro Kalogeropoulos View Post
In regards to audio, the only reason I didn't include anything on my list is that I also have a small home music recording studio. I have some very good Microtech Gefell condenser mics, and some Shure SM-57s. Although, a Lav mic might work very well for my application too. I guess you need a transmitter and reciever for the LAV mic? Does the reciever plug into the XH-A1 XLR? With regards to the mixer, I already have a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro for my music stuff (has Makie preamps built-in, phanton power, etc.). I can use the preamps on that unit and output the stereo mix back to the XH-A1 XLR mic inputs. That is where the R/L outputs from the mixer would go, right?
Not sure what your shots will be, if they are rather stationary, a boomed mike you already have might work. If not, I would think a lav would work well. You'd have to think through the logistics of wired vs. wireless. One thing around cars / engines w/ electronics is possible interference from RF generated from the car electronics (spark, ignition, etc.) - may be worth investigating to see if others have had this, or rent a wireless for a day and see what happens, without having to buy it, if you can't find any info online from others who have done this. If you went wireless, a lot of people here use the sennheiser g2 single channel units, which you could use for your lav and if you also used a boom, you could go wired for that. Yup, you'd send the mixer out back to the camera (you'd have to play with the camera levels to set them if the mixer doesn't generate a test tone). You may also want to think about stereo vs. mono. If audio perspective would be important for your video, e.g. start the engine and want to hear that from the side of the car where the engine is, you may want to use the stereo onboard mikes for ambient, and go with a small CF recorder for another track of mono audio for your talent, which you could pan across both L and R in vegas. having stereo of your talent may be annoying to listen to if it keeps shifting around during a take. again, depends on what you want to end up with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiro Kalogeropoulos View Post
I checked out the Bogen 503HDV head on B&H and it looks good. Another site has a buget videographer article that points to this combo unit using the 3046 legs instead of the 351 you mentioned (not a bad price too, but the 351 legs look a bit more solid [not sure by just looking at the picture though]): http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ipod_Legs.html
can't say, although I've been very happy with the 351. But, if your shots are mostly without panning, they may be fine (the 351 kit also came with the sharp tipped points and a carry case, which I use - you may not want to put the $$ into those if you don't need them and save it for other kit). there are alternatives to the bogen as well, but I did think the 503HDV head felt good esp. for not spending a mint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiro Kalogeropoulos View Post
I also read a book that had a great "Do It Yourself" dolly made from 12 foot long steel poles and a wooden t-frame with roller blade wheels to roll the tripod along the frame for dolly shots.
I haven't done this but I think others use PVC as well - may be worth checking PVC vs. steel for this, PVC is very easy to work with.

and, disclaimer: I am by no means an expert here, but thought I'd offer some common sense comments trying to stay within my range of knowledge..many here have been helpful so I thought I'd try to pitch in as well. At some point your thread will need separate posts in the appropriate sub-forums on specific issues / points / questions.

enjoy!!
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 10:05 AM   #6
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I'm not an expert at the video end yet but I am somewhat of a computer gearhead and have been building computers for years to do editing on. If you are building your own system (which it sounds like you are) I would opt for the Asus P5E3 Deluxe MOBO. I've had better luck with Asus MOBO's and they're easier to overclock, plus, the P5E3 Deluxe will also support Intel's new 45nm Penryn quad core CPU. That will give you great upgrade potential once the quad core chips reach an affordable price (probably in about 6 months they'll be down to around $400). Get two 2GB Ram sticks instead of 4 x 1 GB. Again for future expandability.

Hold off on the Blu-Ray burner, the technology and advancements in this area especially are rapidly evolving so wait off as long as you can before investing in it. If you are in need of a BR burner now I believe the LG GGW-H20LI is a better unit than the Sony. Worth a look.

I have been using NEO HDV and Vegas 8 on both my Vista Ultimate and XP Pro machines. I was amazed to find that it is more stable on my Vista Machine (not many apps are). Speed wise I can't really tell since they are two totally different configs for the machines.

I personally use dual monitors A LOT and would recommend this to anyone who is going to do a lot of graphics/video editing. Vegas allows you to pull the various windows out of the main program workspace so things like your scopes or video preview windows can be on a second monitor. I would also highly recommend getting an external backup drive to do nightly backups of your critical data for fast recovery in the event of a minor or major catastrophy. Finally on the computer end I have a monitor calibrator so that both screens are calibrated. Not as good as a true studio monitor but it is a lot closer to the final look on a television than an uncalibrated one.

On the camera end, the Bogen is a nice set up but after doing a ton of research on sticks I found that there are a lot of other options and a whole section dedicated to it here. I opted or a Cartoni set up mostly because I was able to find a used one locally at a great price. I would recommend you trying out the ones that you are considering because to my surpise, I found that there is a lot of difference to the feel of each system.

I would recommend saving on the BR burner now and investing in the LANC. I shoot performing arts videos and find this to be a necessity. The layout of the A1 is great for some things but not so good on others. I opted for the Canon ZR2000 only because it gave me control over camera features that I could not get from any other LANC. I do agree with the numerous comments on the build thought, the plastic housing is not so great but it has held up to the little abuse it takes while in transport.

Finally, I'm having the same feelings as you regarding the Firestore. It would be really nice to not have to aquire from tape but from all that I've researched the Firestore may not be the alternative. I have done direct feeds to a laptop and to be honest at the price of the Firestore you could get a decent laptop to do the aquisition to (and if you calc the weight in when getting your tripod you could mount it to the tripod).

Sorry for the long reply but this is my experience and what I've discovered since getting into this as a hobby/new business almost a year ago. This forum is a great resource for info. BTW you should check out ZOTZ (a DVi sponsor) for your equipement purchases. They have very good pricing, are very willing to help out with information on products (even if they don't carry it) and will tell you if they cannot meet the price of a competitor.
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 09:54 PM   #7
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XH-A1 and System

Dave and Garrett,


Thanks for your excellent advice. It has helped me to further dig into the various forums using the appropriate verbiage in the search function to get better information. Sorry for including so many different topics into one thread and in this forum, but I thought I would at least use the forum of the camera I would be using.

I did check into the Windows XP versus Vista comments. The one thing I read about this that seemed to make the best sense was where someone charaterized Vista as just not being mature enough at this point in time (lack of service packs) and the fact that a lot of the current software has been written with the XP programming architecture in mind (even if they say they support Vista). Apparently Vista is a departure in programming from the way XP was put together. So, it looks like I may be loading up my Win XP with SP2 in order to guarantee stability.

I think the Firestore hard disk can wait for the time being. I will probably be able to just record my garage segments to tape and transfer them to the PC (via the motherboard's firewire connection) using the camera's playback function. Someone had mentioned that using the Firestore would save the camera's write heads, but I don't really buy into that logic. I think the main thing it would save on is time (i.e. having to wait 2 hours to write 2 hours worth of recorded material into the PC). I think your advice is right on Dave, the hard disk can wait until the technology improves, better product comes out, you can get one cheaply on eBay, or I absolutely need it for a particular application. Garrett, you had an interesting comment about being able to record direcly to a laptop instead of an FS-4 HD. Does this require a very powerul laptop, or special software to make sure you're capturing the video properly?

Garrett, you mentioned using a monitor calibrator. Is this basically software, or physical hardware that you use in order to calibrate the monitor? I have a product called AVIA (Ver 2) that I used to calibrate my big screen TV. It comes with all of the tests and some Red/Blue/Green filters to help with adjusti colors. Not sure if that would work, or if you use something more specific and effective.

I checked out the Canon ZR2000 and it looks very good. Gives you the option to focus from the LANC. Very nice. On my budget, I was looking at this tripod system from Libec (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...od_System.html) which inludes the Tripod/Fluid Head/ZC-3DV Zoom Control/Speader/Bag for $399. The tripod has a weight limit of 8.8 pounds, which should be enough for the XH-A1 in my somewhat static application.

I checked out ZOTZ and they look like a petty decent shop. They get very good comments from all of the board members here, so I will have to give them a shout in future,


Thanks again,

Spiro.
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Old January 4th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #8
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Hi Spiro,

The monitor calibration I'm talking about here is a hardware device that you plug in usually throught a USB. I do use a dvd calibration disc for my tv's, projectors and have tried to use it on my computer monitors but the problem is that computer monitors have much different characteristics and latitude for adjustment than consumer video devices.

In the past I've used the Colorvisions's Spyder calibrators but recently purchased a Pantone Huey Pro. I like the Huey Pro becuase it allows me to calibrate multiple monitors (on a single system) and it continuously monitors the ambient room light and make fine adjustments to the monitors to account for the differing light conditions. There a several consumer as well as professional grade calibration devices. They will range from arond $100 to over $1000. I got the Huey Pro on sale for $69.

The Laptop I use when doing live captures (and I also backup with tape simultaniously) is a Core 2 Duo T7250 CPU, running Vista Ultimate with 2GB or ramp. I just plug in through a Firewire and use Vegas to do the capture. It's an off the shelf Toshiba with one tweek, I upgraded the hard drive to a 7200 rpm 160GB drive. The biggest complained I have about Toshiba Laptops are that they use slow drives (usually 5400 rpm and some are using 4200 rpm). I also use this laptop to capture audio through a Roland A/D converter. You could get away with a laptop set up that is well under $1000 and have a second rendering machine also. I would recommend getting a Core 2 Duo machine rather than an AMD, they seem to run faster (I have gone back and forth between AMD and Intel but in the last two years Intel has really taken the lead in high end chips).

From what I've seen the Libec LS-22 is a nice set up but I have seen some posts that it is not stable enough with the A1 on it. Many that I've seen make the leap to the LS-38. I'm also not a great fan of a Floor/Ground Spreader as it can get in the way if you're on uneven ground. I would opt for the Mid Spreader at a slightly higher cost. One thing that blew me away was the cost of a good Tripod System. At first I thought $200 to $300 would get me a good starter tripod but quickly had to accept that I would be more in the $600 to $800 range.

Another thought came to mind regarding your computer. Are you going to run the two hard drives in RAID 0? If so consider getting a separate RAID controller. On board raid contollers are like on board audio and video, pretty much useless. I have a friend who is a hardware designer and he did some tests of onboard raid contollers, they don't provide much of a perfomance increase over a standard SATA. Promise and Adaptec make some pretty affordable controllers that can do RAID 0, 1 adn 0+1.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 09:09 PM   #9
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PC System Components

Garrett,

Thanks for the info. I didn't know about those calibrators. The Huey Pro looks like it will be a good addition.

With regards to the RAID drive, I checked on the following card but I'm not sure if it is the right one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816103085

I have a PCI-e on the motherboard, and the two 750GB SATA Hitachi Deskstar hard drives I'll be using are at 3Gb/s. So, I would imagine that this card should work. Although it is very expensive. The other RAID drives that were cheaper had lower throughput rates (1.5GB/s) though.

I did see something about using RAID 0, in that if something happens to the RAID conroller and it goes out of sync, that you pretty much lose all of the data on the hard drive. Is that correct? Does this happen because the RAID 0 control splits the data up between the two hard drives? Would you be able to successfully back up your drives every night to save any possibility of losing your work due to a RAID hiccup? That would seem excessive. What's the safeguard?

In my case, the main drive with the OS (WinXP Pro) will be used to Archive footage, and all of the footage I'll be editing (running in Vegas Pro 8) will be on the second drive. Would the RAID controller still benefit me with regards to speed? I've heard they are around 10x faster than using the RAID on a motherboard.

Just a little confused on the RAID stuff here, any advice would be appreciated.


Thanks.
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Old January 8th, 2008, 12:59 PM   #10
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Hi Spiro,

The RAID card you spec'd out is a pretty high end card for home use. I would use something like that on a work server.

I'm not sure what your background is on building systems so if you already know this stuff sorry for the repeat info.

RAID systems can give you two advantages. One is to increase hard drive performance, translating into higher transfer rates to and from your drives. This is done by essentially splitting the data and writing to more than one device simultaneously. The other advantage of a RAID system is to use it to increase reliability of your stored data by providing redundant information on different physical hard drives. Most of what you will see in home application is either a RAID Level 0, 1 or 0 +1. RAID 0 is simply used to increase the speed of your data transfer. It is much more vulnerable to loss of data since it does not mirror information on the two drives. Another advantage is it will appear that you have one bigger drive.

RAID 1 will only mirror the two drives. It basically writes the same infomaton to both drives so that if one goes down the other will continue to provide data transfer and no data will be loss. It's kind of a constant backup system. Read speads are faster but write speeds are slower. Not good for video editing. And, your two 750GB drives will only yield 750GB of storage.

RAID 0+1 is both a RAID 0 and 1 at the same time so you get the speed and backup reliability. The only problem here is you need a minimum of 4 drives and the capacity will be twice the size of your smallest capacity drive.

There are other RAID Levels, 3, 5, 6, 10 but they are either somewhat obsolete or used in server applications for large storage applications and they tend to be more expensive to implement.

Since you have two drives I would recommend not using a RAID set up and dedicate one drive for your applications and one for your temp editing drive. I always like to separate my applications drive from my data drives. I don't think running a RAID 0 as your only drive is a good idea (that's from personal experience) and now since large capacity external drives are so cheap you can do automatic daily backups and at worst you'd loose one days worth of work. You could also do an image of your other applications and os drive so you could easily image a new drive if your apps drive fails (much easier than reloading all your apps).

With the price of storage (hard drives) now you can go pretty crazy for not a lot of money. To give you an idea I currently have 4 computers (two desktops and two laptops) running off of my network at home. My main video and graphics editing maching has 4 drives in it. Two 10K Raptor 150 GB drives running in RAID 0 used for temp storage editing of videos (yields 300GB of super high speed editing storage), and two 250 GB SATA drives, one to run applications and an additional drive for longer term storage. Then I have one network external drive (1 TB), and two 500GB USB2 drives attached for backups and additional shared storage. I image my applications drive once a month and I backup data drives and video drives every night.

Most people think I'm nuts but I just seem to buy more space when I run out. It also doesn't help that I'm trying to edit three HD shows at one time.

Sorry for the long post but hope this helps.

Garrett
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Old January 8th, 2008, 11:16 PM   #11
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RAID Cards

Garrett,

Thanks for the crash course on the RAID cards. I was able to find my Dad's Seagate 160GB 7200 RPM hard drive from his old PC, and will be using that as my applications hard drive and the two (2) 750GB Hitachi's will be used for editing using the RAID controller. I was able to find a few cards that looked like they would work or me.

Adaptec (all positive reviews on this card): $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816103058

3Ware (which I've read has fatser and more efficient cards): $186.00
(Some negative reviews on this 2 lane card):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816116041

3Ware (possibly same as 3ware above in 4 lane; great reviews but maybe more than I need): $326.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816116042

It looks like the Adaptec should be able to provide me what I need at a good price. I'm not really sure how much of a performance difference I would get by using the 3Ware card. I would imagine they both provide the same throughput, unless one card is more efficient with system resources than the other. Let me know what you think.
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