The time has come to lay my money down. On storage, that is. Real storage, not home-made hodge-podge RAID arrays that I’ve built myself throughout the years, just to save some money. Yes, it’s saved me a lot of money, but now that my current workstation has only Thunderbolt and no internal eSATA support (obviously it’s an iMac), the time has come to invest in a proper Thunderbolt RAID system.
At first I had been using an old Drobo 4-bay enclosure as my storage array, but of course that wasn’t fast enough to edit video. It was just used as an archive. Then I started making RAIDs out of various inexpensive external enclosures, until now. Currently, I am using two Vantec HX4R 4-bay enclosures with 8TB each on board, configured as RAID10. The HX4R is an eSATA device, but since the iMac doesn’t have eSATA ports, I had to hook them up through a LaCie eSATA>Thunderbolt hub.
The LaCie hub is a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand, it is super-fast and works very well, when it works. For the most part, it’s fine, but it has a tendency to cause drives to unmount spontaneously. Of course, this is no good when you’re trying to work. To its credit, it never did it when the unit was under heavy use; only when it was mostly idle. But still, it’s not good for drives to be spontaneously ejected, of course. Lately, it’s been causing problems with one of my RAIDs, in the form of corrupted directories. It spent the last 48-hrs refusing to mount correctly, so I figured it is time for a change.
Tomorrow I will put my money down for a new Promise Pegasus R6 RAID array loaded with six 3TB drives. When searching for Thunderbolt RAIDs, the Pegasus kept coming up tops and the specs are good, so I figured it is worth a gamble. It’s expensive, but if it holds it end of the bargain, it will save me that much more money in wasted time. I will write a review of the Pegasus R6 after I’ve had some time with it.
I ran across this interesting post by Alex Gollner about Apple’s new patents, and how Final Cut Pro X could develop into a platform of its own. This is a good read. Sharing clips with collaborators and holding window-based chat sessions to discuss changes? Sign me up. Seems a lot easier than shipping hard drives back and forth…
Here’s something cool I ran across at Read Write Web. AVID has released an iPad video editing app, and for now, it’s only $4.99, but act fast! They plan on upping the price to $7.99 before too long. That extra three bucks will kill ya. I’m looking forward to trying out the new app. So far, my favorite iOS editor has been Reel Director; I hope AVID gives it a run for its money, simply because I like competition. It breeds better products, and better user experiences. Check it out in the App Store.
When Final Cut Pro X was released, I was one of the users who threw down my three-hundred bucks and drank the Kool-Ade™ immediately. I was also one of the users who demanded a refund inside of a week after running FCPX for the first time. And, to Apple’s credit, they didn’t even ask me why; they just said, “Here you go!” and gave my money back. That says a lot about the backlash they’re getting from FCPX and also that maybe — just maybe — they will admit they made a mistake in their FCP strategy and will rethink the way they want to step into the future from this point.
When you get down to brass tacks, FCPX isn’t bad. It has some really cool features. It’s a lot easier to review clips in the new file browser, for example, and I think the in-app color tools are much more advanced. However, that magnetic storyline thing has got to go. I was willing to put up with a lot of quirks while I was getting used to the new app, but when it started rearranging clip order and screwing with my ins and outs on clips I had already placed, well — in the words of Devin the Dude, “Bitch gotta go.” (don’t bother Googling, it isn’t worth the time)
So, after I asked Apple for my money back, I started working in Adobe Premiere Pro (again), because I was a little sour on Apple for the time being (pun totally intended). I like Premiere. I’ve always liked it, but it’s never been my main NLE because I simply knew FCP better, and there was really no reason to switch. However, since the days I first tried Premiere, I changed part of my workflow that affects my ability to use the app now: I started color grading in DaVinci Resolve.
The recent release of Resolve 8 is awesome, as it allows for round trips from Final Cut Pro by exporting XML files from the editor. One can also export XML files from Premiere, but here is where a big wrench gets thrown into the machine due to a cool feature of Premiere. Yes, a feature about Premiere that I like is what causes a problem in my workflow, and here’s what it is: A lot of my footage is shot on Panasonic P2 cameras, and Premiere has the ability to work with the native P2 files, which is awesome, since AVCIntra or DVCProHD files don’t see the improvement from being converted to ProRes that H.264 files from a DSLR do. However, DaVinci Resolve does not recognize native P2 files, so if I want to make round trips from Premiere, I first have to convert my P2 files to ProRes before I bring them into Premiere. Yes, I also have to do this in Final Cut Pro, but FCP’s log and transfer window makes it a snap, and it’s much easier to work with these files in FCP instead of Premiere if I want to send the project to Resolve at some point, which I always will.
So, the problem isn’t with Premiere; it’s with Resolve. If Resolve recognized P2 files, all would be well, but the fact is that it doesn’t. I thought it was really strange that Resolve didn’t recognize P2, so I emailed BlackMagic about the issue and they confirmed that that was indeed the case, although the wording of the reply did contain the phrase, “…does not yet support…” so I guess that says there is future hope for working with P2 in Resolve.
So, it comes down to the fact that, if I want to work in Premiere, I would have to remove Resolve from my workflow unless I felt like coming up with a complicated batch conversion process for all my raw footage. Now, I LOVE Resolve, so there is no way I’m going to stop using it. I like Premiere, but I also like FCP 7, and there is no reason why I should switch to Premiere for now. I say, “for now,” because the future hinges on what Apple has in store for FCP, and whether or not they truly intend to abandon the Pro suite of applications for easier pro-sumer profit. If FCP will truly end with version 7, then there is a problem, but if Apple will admit they made a mistake and continue developing FCP the way it should be done, then all will be well. Regardless, I hope Resolve will support more raw camera formats in the near future, because more options are always better.
I just got back into town from Dallas, and I’m really tired, so I’m going to bed. BUT, I wanted to post a word of warning beforehand, just in case I can save a poor soul or two from blowing $300.00 on Final Cut Pro X between now and tomorrow, when I get a chance to write a better post on the matter.
If you are expecting the new Final Cut Pro X to replace Studio, just get off that bus right now. I bought and installed it, and let me tell you that it has been WAY over-simplified. A video professional cannot make use of it to satisfy clients. You can’t even import or export XML or EDL files, so right away, working in DaVinci Resolve or Adobe After Effects is right out. Forget about it. Wait until Apple updates it and gives it the professional options it needs before you buy it.
That being said, it does have a lot of really cool stuff going on under the hood. Background rendering is really sweet, as is the native 64-bit processing. The in-app color tools are really nice, and there is a lot of other stuff that’s cool, but it is nowhere near ready for prime time. If you’re a hobbyist, or pro-am, go for it, but if you make your living via moving pixels, WAIT.