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  • 4K feature editing storage options: New to RAID

  • Rhys Sherring

    April 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    So I’m in pre-production for my first feature film that will be shot using a Sony a7s II recording to Atomos Ninja Flame; 4K (2160p) DNxHD 220. I bought a high end PC rig couple weeks ago that will be able to handle the edit and colour grade that I will be doing in Premiere and DaVinci. It’s a low budget independent feature, but it looks like I’ll have to allocate $500-700 or the like for storage options in the budget.

    Our default process thus far with short films has been the ol external USB 3 hard drives like Seagate and WD etc, and buying extras to store backups on.

    I’ve never used RAID’s before and have just started doing homework on them. Wondering if anyone with experience in RAID’s could help me figure out which path to take. Our options seem to be choosing from RAID 1, 5 or 10 that include redundancies? I estimate we’ll need at least 8TB minimum for principal footage, which means we’ll need 16TB in total if we want to have one back up version of everything.

    Any and all help appreciated.

  • Jeff Pulera

    April 24, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    RAID 0 (2 or more drives) – STRIPED – all drives are combined for performance, full capacity available, no redundancy. If one drive fails, ALL DATA LOST.

    RAID 1 (2 or more drives) – MIRRORED – same data recorded to BOTH drives so always backed up, but capacity halved. Not as fast as RAID 0.

    RAID 5 (4 or more drives) – REDUNDANT – capacity of one drive in the RAID is sacrificed for redundancy. In a 16TB unit (4x4TB), you’d lose 4TB for redundancy, leaving 12TB usable. A little slower than RAID 0, but faster than RAID 1. Losing one drive is okay, but two drives go out and you lose all data

    RAID 10 (4 or more drives) – creates two RAID 0 arrays, then splits data between them such that as long as ONE drive remains viable in each RAID pair, data can be recovered. Not as widely available on lower-cost RAID units as it might be on larger arrays.

    For a “feature” film, redundancy will be very important. Longer-term project and can’t afford to lose your work, right?

    RAID 0 is out, UNLESS you make complete backups to another drive religiously.

    RAID 1 (with 2-drive system) will be no faster than using a single drive, so performance takes a hit.

    Might want to increase the budget a bit and go for a 4-drive, RAID 5 system to get both speed and redundancy. That seems to be a sweet spot for performance and protection in the video realm.

    For connectivity, does new PC have USB-C interface? Or possibly Thunderbolt 3? Either of those are great, otherwise USB 3.0 is pretty quick, just make sure drive has ports compatible with what PC offers.


    Jeff Pulera
    Safe Harbor Computers

  • Rhys Sherring

    April 26, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Appreciate the effort in that reply, mate. Cheers. A lot of money (not to mention blood sweat and tears) is being invested into the film, so yeah, don’t wana buy $100 insurance on a $100,000 car.

    RAID 5 seems to be popular. Few folks are against its single parity though, saying to instead go for the RAID 6 with its double parity for important media based data.

    I’ve got USB 3.0 on my PC. I’ll have to talk to my tech guy to see whether a USB-C integration would be recommended. I would most likely be editing the feature from the RAID, so high reading speed would be beneficial, because i sure as hell don’t have room on the PC to put it all on there.

    DroboPro seems to be thrown around a bit. I’ve also been suggested to buy four 4 TB enterprise drives to make a RAID 10.

  • Jeff Pulera

    April 26, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    I don’t believe USB-C can be added to a computer – you either have it, or you don’t. But there is nothing wrong with using USB 3.0 if that’s what you have, which will exceed the needs of most users. If you choose a drive with USB-C, it will include cables to connect to your USB 3.0 port, no worries there.

    Consider this – if you have a RAID drive pushing say 400MB/s, both USB-C and USB 3.0 are capable of much faster transfer, so with either interface, you would basically get the same result running a speed test.

    If you have an 8, 16, or 24-drive monster RAID system…then yeah, you may get beyond the capabilities of USB 3.0 and that’s where Thunderbolt or USB-C come into play and provide better results. But regardless of the top speed the drive is capable of – how much bandwidth do you actually need? Unless you are editing HD and 4K UNCOMPRESSED, you are not going to need massive bandwidth for compressed formats anyway and the capacity of the connection interface will never be fully utilized.

    Kind of like driving a Ferrari around in a school zone, it would just be idling the entire time.

    As for redundancy, regardless of RAID mode used, never a bad idea to have a backup on another drive. One can get a SINGLE (inexpensive) large drive, say 8 or 10TB, and use that for backup of the RAID contents and then keep it off premises in case of fire/flood/theft/lightning strike or whatever.


    Jeff Pulera
    Safe Harbor Computers

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