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Old April 29th, 2008, 01:47 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Mac Pro, RAID, hard drive and HD editing questions

I'm new to the mac and planning on buying a Mac Pro, specifically for editing and motion graphics with Final Cut Studio 2 and After Effects. Now, I'm also quite new to the whole video thing, so there are a couple of things that aren't clear to me. Maybe you guys can help!

1. I heard that it's recommended to have your boot drive separate from the drive that contains your video data. Is that really the case? Wouldn't it be faster if I put two drives in a RAID 0 array but have OS, Apps and data all on the same two drives through RAID 0? I'm actually planning on getting 3 1TB drives, so either setup would work for me (1 boot drive, 2 drives in RAID 0 or all three drives in RAID 0). I'm just looking for the solution with the highest performance.

2. Does it make sense to have an additional disk that is just used as a scratch disk? I've been reading that a couple of times but would much prefer to have the scratch on one of my 'regular' drives (boot or data).

3. Is the software RAID that can be set up through Mac OS X a good solution? I wouldn't really want to spend 1000 dollars on the Apple RAID card.

4. My projects will include live concerts shot with 6 cameras. The format will either be HDV or DVCPro HD, not sure of that yet. I realise that the data rate for HDV is pretty low so I guess I wouldn't be running into any problems, but what kind of setup will I need for 6 streams of DVCPro HD footage? Is a RAID 0 with two drives (internal) enough?

5. More about DVCPro HD: I read that one needs a capture card to capture DVCPro HD when filming on tape. Is that true? No firewire solution like in good old DV?

I'd really appreciate some guidance.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 05:00 PM   #2
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Just to address one of your points about RAID 0, I would certainly keep your main OS/application drive separate from any RAID 0 drive arrays. Furthermore, when you are working in Final Cut and After Effects, I would store the actual project files on your main OS/application drive (with backups as well - lots of options available there, included automated stuff like Mozy and Time Machine).

The reason is that with RAID 0, you are sacrificing any redundancy in your data for raw speed. There's nothing wrong with this - you'll get great speeds by doing so. But if any of the drives go bad, even if the others are fine, your whole RAID array will be gone. Depending on how you're acquiring footage and storing it, that might not be a problem. For instance, if you're using tape-based media, then with your FCP project file and the original tapes, you can just recapture the lost footage. With tapeless workflows, you will need some other method of keeping a backup copy of the footage on-hand, or a real disaster could happen where the only copy of the footage is on those RAID 0 drives and the whole thing goes belly-up. For that reason alone, I'm still glad to be working with tape for now, even with all the other time-consuming extra steps it requires to start editing...
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Old April 29th, 2008, 05:35 PM   #3
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If you don't NEED RAID 0 performance (and for what you are saying you'll be doing with your system, you don't) don't bother configuring your drives as a RAID. RAID 0 offers no redundancy as Casey mentions and two drives functioning as 1 logical drive doubles your chance of drive failure. Plus, in a RAID 0 configuration, you'd lose EVERYTHING instead of potentially just half, if you manually spread media over drives.

DVCPro HD has a data rate of 100Mbits per second, or 12.5MBytes per second. Any modern drive will handle this with ease (assuming you are using 7200 rpm or greater drives - in other words, anything but entry level laptop drives).

Unfortunately, I can't help you with capturing DVCPro HD.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 02:03 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies so far. Of course I'll have backups of all my data on external drives, so the usual disadvantages of RAID 0 don't really apply here. Right now for me it's just all about speed.

Since DVCPro HD has a data rate of 12.5 MBps like Shaun mentioned, won't I run into problems if I run 6 simultaneous streams of DVCPro HD through the multicam tool of FCP? Or is one drive still fast enough?

Can anyone else help me with my question of how to capture DVCPro HD?
Jim Schmidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2008, 10:38 AM   #5
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Wow, where to start. First, you should inquire on the Apple discussions where you will find a lot more folks using DVCPro HD and that workflow. As example, I believe they suggest using the ProRes codec as it is 10-bit instead of the 8-bit DVCPro HD... which will make a difference with motion graphics. DO NOT RAID 0 your drives unless you are using the Apple RAID card. You only need Apple's card if you want to create a bootable RAID array. While you can use OS X to create a software RAID 0, there is very little benefit with it in terms of speed due to the software overhead of managing the RAID. Hardware RAIDs are faster & safer but require a separate piece of hardware. I would strongly suggest looking into an external storage drive array ( I might even suggest contacting MacGurus to configure an enclosure that will do 6 streams of DVCPro HD. I don't think you are going to get 6 streams of DVCPro HD without resorting to a better hard drive array. And I would want easier external access to swap out drives/projects.

Another thing to look at is the Kona cards ( which offers DVCPro acceleration, and with 6-stream that may be handy. Plus the other benefits of the Kona card.

Good Luck,
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