Cheap insurance idea
We have a MacBook Pro that we take on the road with our EX cameras for pulling footage from the cards. We typically copy the footage to the hard drive with CRC, make a copy to a Lacie FW800 drive, and burn DVDs. I think it's as diligent a backup system as one needs, but it has one weak link: the Mac's Expresscard slot.
I've been thinking back lately to a post a while back where people had mentioned problems with their Mac's slot. Something didn't line up quite right and had to be adjusted, or something to that effect. Regardless of how simple a problem, it's certainly not something one wants to mess with during a shoot!
Granted, we take enough cards with us to make sure that we're not at a standstill while offloading footage to the laptop. But what happens on an all-day shoot if the laptop decides not to accept one or more of the cards?
For that reason I've suggested to our guys that they take an SBAC-US10 reader with them (we have an extra) in case the laptop gets cranky, quits working, gets stolen, whatever. We will then have the option of getting the footage from the cards into our computer (or a replacement, if necessary) in case the worst occurs.
I just thought I'd pass this along...if it's a useful idea to someone, great. If not, well, it's only electrons.
Does the Sony reader handle the MxR type cards?
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No, they don't work with my Sony reader. Despite the good reports that some have had here on the Cow, there's no way I'm trusting them on the kind of shoot that involves travel and lots of file transfers in the field. I'm sure the MxR is a good product, and I own two, but I'm still in the "cautious" camp regarding their use for critical shoots. This weekend I plan to take a Steadicam vest rig out with one of our EX cameras to play, and I'll probably run the two MxR adapters to see how things work.
I understand the appeal of cheap media, but I consider the cost of SxS cards as part of the "cost of entry" into the HD game. I've only been in broadcasting and/or production since 1988 or so, but in that time the word "adapter" has become a word that throws up a red flag in my mind. I'd rather not ruin a shoot costing thousands of dollars, involving lots of travel, and/or without a second chance...just to save on the cost of cards.
Keep in mind the whole adaptor thing became possible because of the firmware upgrade for the use with Sony's own hard drive. In other words the technology for the adaptor is that used by the Sony's hard drive.
The technology itself it reliable. At issue is the reliability of the SDHC cards. The cards can be tested and once done, are reliable.
If we're to talk about reliability in respect to the entire workflow the cards can prove more reliable that SxS . . . depending on your workflow. Personally, transferring cards in the field via laptop has considerable risk. The human error risk seems to be common especially given what we see on this and other forums. I would rather have many SDHC cards which I can safely transfer "back at the office" than trying to do an SxS transfer in the field during the pressure of a shoot. Of course if all you need is two 32GB cards you can buy them instead of two SDHC cards. What do you do if the client wants to walk with the master. SxS is another bunch of risky copies. SDHC and you charge them for the cost and hand them the card.
Then there's the risk of using proprietary media. We've seen what that can bring recently with OS 10.6 update.
My point is when talking about "risk" we MUST include risks involved with workflows and not just the technology divorced from real world use.
I've had one SDHC card fail...I lost a few shots, not the whole piece of media...and I'm pretty sure that I'm to blame for it as I think I punched pause and roll too quickly and didn't take the time the SDHC card needs to finalize the file into account after stopping roll.
Are SxS cards better? Probably...but in SxS card capacity terms I carry about the same value in record time as about 5,000.00 worth of SxS cards (16 GB at 530.00 USD at B and H) for around 400.00 USD. I do keep an SxS card around for overcranking of course.
I've never actually offloaded an SDHC card through the Express adapter as I tried it once and it was slow relative to popping the SDHC card and using a regular old multicard reader.
Are these adapters a compromise? Sure. Are they any more of a compromise than a plastic camera or screw thread on matteboxes? Remember when P2 was strange and felt risky?
I think the bigger question is how in the world we ever felt safe when we were running a thin layer of poly with some metal particles adhered to it through various physical friction and tension points in a device that regulated that friction and tension with little springs and belts and motor speed controllers lubricated with lithium grease that was sometimes millimeters from our recording surface...with no redundancy whatsoever.
I think back to the precious few times a professional field tape recorder ever failed me and just shake my head in wonder...
I'd say the biggest risk in any data-based workflow these days is cheap harddrive technology. Anyone who is retiring SxS or SDHC EXcam media to less than two separate, cloned harddrives before erasing the field media stands a far greater chance of storage failure ruining their day than simply using SDHC cards in an adapter.
[Nick Lammers] "Does the Sony reader handle the MxR type cards? "
No. It's specific to SxS PCIe. Other cards such as MxR are USB (again to avoid confusion I'm talking about the internal workings of the card and not the cable to the computer).
I have been using my MacBook Pro's Expresscard slot for almost 1 year on a very, very regular basis. I have never had an issue with the build quality or inserting/removing of my SxS cards.
Nevertheless, I thank you for your comments Clint and will be mindful of that poor build quality possibility.
Of course, you could always just carry a USB cable and plug the camera straight into your laptop. It's what we're resigned to now that the "snow" has fallen.
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"Of course, you could always just carry a USB cable and plug the camera straight into your laptop."
True, but the idea is to keep the camera free so that it's not taken out of commission by the need to download footage.