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Old October 26th, 2004, 12:53 PM   #1
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Firewire drive formatting

hey all. i have a LaCiE big disk firewire drive. I want to use it as a 'capture to' medium as well as storage for current projects editing. I've captured footage to this disk with mixed results. Im curious if anyone knows of a proven method of operation.

Currently, im not able to capture directly to the drive. Although i have been able to in the past, the results were sometimes distorted and i cannot say why it isnt working at all now. Here is my workflow:

minidv to G5 via fw400.
lacie to G5 via fw800.

does the speed difference cause a problem? i would go 400 in for the lacie also, but i use a digidesign 002 which occupies my only other 400 port.

when i try to capture it will sometimes take only one frame and close the capturing box. other times it will take footage with extremely distorted picture.

am i dreaming to think that i can use this fw disk just as i would an internal?

should i format the fw drive a specific way???
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Old October 26th, 2004, 02:15 PM   #2
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I think the issue you are facing is that you are both pulling data from your camera AND outputting to a drive ALL through FireWire. Even though they are three different ports:"The three FireWire ports share a single power supply that can provide up to 15 watts total. The three ports are all on the same FireWire bus and can connect to up 62 other FireWire devices." So the real issue is that they are using the same connection into the computer itself... probably causing your problem. You would probably get better performance buying a PCI Firewire card so that you will be using a different "bus" capturing your data than your camera.

You can see what I mean at this page:
http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Hardware/Developer_Notes/Macintosh_CPUs-G5/PowerMacG5/2Architecture/chapter_3_section_2.html
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Old October 26th, 2004, 02:25 PM   #3
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hmm, so the fact that these other devices are not reliant on the fw connection for running power, doesnt that mean that im using VERY little of the allotted wattage? seems like its worked before is the reason im tripping.

h
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Old October 26th, 2004, 04:37 PM   #4
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It is not so much a wattage/power issue as data pipes... Basically, all three of your firewire ports use the same data pipe to talk to your hard drive. So if you are trying to capture TO a firewire device FROM a firewire device you can see issues because you are totally saturating the FW controller. Maybe using 400 on both the drive and your camera will make it work better, but otherwise, I would guess it will be a hit or miss thing. You might even want to try removing your other FW device as it might be doing a little bit of talking and taking up the controller's processing ability.
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Old October 26th, 2004, 05:12 PM   #5
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I doubt the FireWire bus is an issue on a G5 or even a Power Mac G4. I used a DP 450 Power Mac and captured from an XL1 via FW and captured the material to a FW drive. We use the same setup (using G5 Power Macs) with various cameras at the school I teach at and have no problems capturing. How is your FW drive formatted?
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Old October 26th, 2004, 06:01 PM   #6
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I regularly capture from my camera on one FW400 port to a variety of external FW400 drives on the other port. No problems with this, and my machine is only a G4/1.25ghz single processor. From what you say, I wonder if there is an issue with the LaCie disk on the FW800 port? What happens if you plug the disk into a FW400 port?

Seems to me that recently several people have mentioned problems related to capturing on the LaCie Big Disk (or maybe you have posted several times)? Maybe this drive just isn't so great for video?
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Old October 26th, 2004, 10:57 PM   #7
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jeff: this is what im asking. its as it was out of the box.
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Old October 27th, 2004, 12:50 AM   #8
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There are two general problems.

First you ought to set up the system a little different. Hook the camera's fw connection directly to the fw drive. Then hook the fw drive up to the computer. Do not connect the camera to the computer directly. It just creates an unnecessary pathway. The daisy chain from camera to fw drive, and then drive to computer is the standard and recommended set up for fw capture.

Second, the Big Disks have very little cache. I believe it is only 2mb. They try to make up for this with problem with the FW 800 protocol, which as you know, is very fast. But if your device is not FW 800 compliant and uses fw400 instead, as is likely the case with your camera, then you can't take advantage of the fw 800 speed and you get all sorts of problems. Sorry. There's not much to do about this except either capture to an internal drive first and then just transfer the files to the Big Disk, or just buy another drive--one with at least 8mg cache, spinning at least 7200 rpm (even if it is only fw400).

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Old October 27th, 2004, 07:00 AM   #9
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Check the System Profiler and look at the devices on the FireWire bus. Do they say File System HFS+?
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First you ought to set up the system a little different. Hook the camera's fw connection directly to the fw drive. Then hook the fw drive up to the computer. Do not connect the camera to the computer directly. It just creates an unnecessary pathway. The daisy chain from camera to fw drive, and then drive to computer is the standard and recommended set up for fw capture..
I'll have to respectively disagree, Douglas. In my experience the method you suggest is the frequent cause of dropped frames and audio sync issues among other problems. I do not recommend this method at the school I teach at because of the numerous issues I've encountered in the past. I know of no documents in the Apple Knowledge Base that say your method is the standard or even recommended.
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Old October 27th, 2004, 07:46 AM   #10
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yes it says hfs+
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Old October 27th, 2004, 11:02 AM   #11
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Trash the FCP Preferences files. See the notice at the top of this forum.
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Old October 27th, 2004, 02:40 PM   #12
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well, jeff...

this is the first stuff ive done since completely reinstalling fcp4. i deleted the list of files that was provided to me by someone on this forum...probably you. ill delete the prefences when i get home today and see if that does it.

thanks a ton.

heath
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Old October 27th, 2004, 04:00 PM   #13
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Hm. Is this another La Cie drive with only a 2MB buffer? That could be it in combination with using FW 800 and 400 at the same time... but again, there's no real way of knowing if it is the 400/800 issue unless you try it. If it is the 2MB buffer, Douglas is probably right, it is most likely your drive just can't keep up...
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Old October 27th, 2004, 04:46 PM   #14
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Per Jeff Donald's comment, I've looked deeper into the issue of putting the camera at the end of the daisy chain and I have to retract my categorical statement. I think more accurately I should just say that putting your camera at the end of the daisy chain, connected to the fw drive (and not the computer) is the preferred method but may not work for everyone. The reason why this is the preferred method is that fw devices are able to communicate to one another even without a computer connecting them. So you can create a cleaner, more direct connection between camera and your caputre device by connecting them directly. Indirect connections that require the signal to route through the computer creates potential traffic jams.

It should be noted that this method may not work for everyone. This is what Adam Wilt, FCP guru, says about the daisy chain order ( http://www.adamwilt.com/Tidbits.html):

FireWire bridge chips in disk housings have comparable pathologies. Folks report that some drives work well on the end of a daisy chain but not in the middle of a daisy-chain, for example. All these same caveats also apply when using a FW800 bus, of course.

So if putting the camera at the end of the daisy chain does not work for you, try connecting the camera to the computer directy (which, again may or may not work for different reasons).

That said, many people found that putting the video camera at the end of the daisy chain is the preferred setup. Here is what one reviewer said (http://www.komando.com/tips_show.asp?showID=6288)

Most Firewire peripherals, including Maxtor's hard drives, have Firewire ports on them. So they can be daisy-chained. The exception is cameras. They have to go at the end of the line.

To answer Jeff's comment that no documents exist in the Apple Knowlege Base discussing this issue, the reason for that is that Apple does not discuss the issue of using firewire drives for video capture in the first place. Apple does not officially recommend video capture to fw drives. So of course Apple will have nothing to say about video camera diasy chain order, one way or the other.

But it is true, that at least for certain cameras (typically older cameras) and certain hard drives that you cannot run them on the same daisy chain. As someone mentioned earlier, devices that are not self powered but require power through the fw connection are particulaly problematic. I don't think that's the problem Heath is having because he is running a self powered drive.

But in any event this is what LaCie itself has said about dropped frames with particular older cameras (http://www.lacie.com/support/faq/index.htm):

Cameras run at 200Mbit speed. FireWire Mass storage devices run at 400Mbit. If both types of devices are connected to the same FireWire bus, it can cause disruption and dropped frames. If you are experiencing dropped frames keep the two types of devices on separate busses.Also, older cameras may have a timing issue that will continuously reset the bus. This can cause error messages or a crash. You would need to run the two devices off of separate FireWire busses if you experience this problem.Other things to try: If using Final Cut Pro make the following settings in the Final Cut Pro Preferences:
Media Capture location - Firewire drive
Waveform/Thumbnail Cache location - Internal Harddrive (startup disk)
Autosave Vault - Internal harddrive (startup disk)


I still suspect the Big Disk's small buffer size (although I do not know for certain). Also, Heath, what sort of camera are you connecting? Canon cameras have notorious issues with FW. If it is a Canon, video capture in FCP has to be set to FW Basic not FW NTSC. Other setting might have to be adjusted. We haven't really explored this, but you could be experiencing a software, not a hardware issue.

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Old October 27th, 2004, 05:12 PM   #15
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Newer FW implementations are asynchronous and allow devices to run at different speeds. Older devices may not be asynchronous and the speed drops to the device with the lowest speed. The FW controller that LaCie uses may have a problem with different speed devices on the same chain. This is why I recommend having the devices separate. I think the Apple FW controller does a better job of handling the different speeds.

I'm also not sure of the quoted speed of cameras running at 200Mb. When I look at cameras connected on the FW bus with Apple System Profiler they show up as 100Mb not 200Mb. It may just be the model cameras we have at the school. But I know my XL1 and XL1s used to show up as 100Mb.
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