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Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare

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Akeline Santos
Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 11, 2011 at 2:19:04 pm

Hello there.

I am trying to rearrange the computers here where I work so they can work as independent workstations (fully capable or at least almost). What I mean is, I need that each editor will be able to sit at his/her computer and work on a video production from beginning to end without having to access files from a different computer (what in my case has not been working).

I currently use a 3ware Sidecar 9650SE controller that is connected to one of the computers where we transfer all footage. The other 2 computers that we have access that Sidecar through the network (note: the computer with the Sidecar is also a workstation, not a dedicated server).

Using this system I noticed many hang ups in our editing process. Videos that take a while to play back, renderings that will take time too, especially if you trying to edit the video from a different computer than the one with the Sidecar, what seems to be obvious.

It seems like my Sidecar has non-compatable HDD (they are suppose to be ST3100034NS and instead we us the ST3100034AS). Every now and than I get red lights on my drives on the Sidecar.

So in a list:
- It does not work to edit videos from another computer;
- Sidecar is giving red lights every now and then;
- Seem like the throughput (even in the computer directly connect to Sidecar) is not as fast as it should be;
- Storage-wise, I have to have all the editors dumping their footage in one computer while they could be having their own workstation.

By the way I work with HD video files.

Hoping to be clear with my words, here are my questions:

1) What is a reasonable and good solution if I want to have each computer with their own storage drives? I am in a budget. Is that enough to just use a normal hard drive (internal or external?) or do I need to have a RAID in each workstation?
2) How can I best archive my files after the project is finished? Or that is not a common practice?
3) Is that a good idea (an also will it be affordable) to try to have independent server that holds all the footage and work with dependent workstations?
4) We even wondered here that FCP could be having problems to load files from the network. Is that possible? I mean, could be the FCP is not being fast enough to read the files and i should try a different Editing Software?


I appreciate all enlightenment that can be shared in this case and I will be visiting this post in case you have farther questions that I can answer.

Thank you.

Akeline Santos
Isaiah 40:31


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Bob Zelin
Re: Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 12, 2011 at 12:36:19 am

Using this system I noticed many hang ups in our editing process. Videos that take a while to play back, renderings that will take time too, especially if you trying to edit the video from a different computer than the one with the Sidecar, what seems to be obvious.

REPLY - this is happening, because you are trying to do SHARED STORAGE (have all computers access the same drive array), and you do not own a shared storage system. There is no cheap way to do this - you must purchase a shared storage system.




So in a list:
- It does not work to edit videos from another computer;

REPLY - this is correct, even if you had the most expensive drive array in the world, you would have the same problem. You need a SHARED STORAGE SYSTEM.

- Sidecar is giving red lights every now and then;

REPLY - the red lights may be activity lights. Even if you did not have the red lights, you would have the same problem.


- Seem like the throughput (even in the computer directly connect to Sidecar) is not as fast as it should be;

REPLY - this is correct - a single drive array cannot serve all the other computers - YOU NEED A SHARED STORAGE SYSTEM - which means a server, a big drive array that is very fast, and an ethernet or fibre network.


- Storage-wise, I have to have all the editors dumping their footage in one computer while they could be having their own workstation.

REPLY - this is exactly what shared storage systems are designed to do.



Hoping to be clear with my words, here are my questions:

1) What is a reasonable and good solution if I want to have each computer with their own storage drives? I am in a budget. Is that enough to just use a normal hard drive (internal or external?) or do I need to have a RAID in each workstation?

REPLY - you must purchase a shared storage solution. There is no "budget solution". If you don't have enough money to buy the correct system, then you cannot accomplish what you are trying to do.
You can look at Maxx Digital, Small Tree, Editshare, Studio Network Solutions, Apace Systems, Cal Digit Super Share, Apple XSAN, AVID Unity ISIS, etc. These are not cheap systems, but they will accomplish what you want.



2) How can I best archive my files after the project is finished? Or that is not a common practice?

REPLY - you buy an expensive LTO tape backup system. Everything you want to accomplish here is very common - BUT IT IS NOT CHEAP - you must spend money to do this.


3) Is that a good idea (an also will it be affordable) to try to have independent server that holds all the footage and work with dependent workstations?

REPLY - you MUST do this - is it affordable ? I do not know what your budget is. This will cost over $10,000 US.


4) We even wondered here that FCP could be having problems to load files from the network. Is that possible?

REPLY - yes, it is possible. You must have a fast network. You will not build this yourself from ethernet components you buy at the office store.


I mean, could be the FCP is not being fast enough to read the files and i should try a different Editing Software?

REPLY - FCP is fast enough. You do not own a shared storage system - this is why this does not work for you.


I appreciate all enlightenment that can be shared in this case and I will be visiting this post in case you have farther questions that I can answer.

REPLY - if you have an old car, and you want to enter an auto race, you cannot win, and you cannot even enter the race. If you do not have the budget for a shared storage system, then you cannot have shared storage.

Bob Zelin



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David Gagne
Re: Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 16, 2011 at 4:08:35 pm

Before you go all-in on shared storage as Bob highlighted, you might also take a look at your desired workflow.

If each project:
1. shares nothing in common (library, stock footage, etc)
2. and each project is only worked on from one station,
3. and each project and all it's related files can fit in a TB or so...

You might get away with individual raids inside your mac pros (assuming you have mac pros?).

For this: Buy some nice 2TB hard drives (WD Caviar Black or Hitachi UltraStar), and raid 0 them. Cheap.

The problem with this is backup and archiving. Raid 0 is vulnerable to drive failure, and what do you do with your projects once completed? Now you have to invest in storage anyways! You might limp along with something like Drobo for $3k, but now you need a full-time night person copying data to it while nobody is working!

For the cost of that person's salary, and to allieve all that headache, pony up for a real shared storage. (I.E. Listen to Bob).


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Akeline Santos
Re: Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 18, 2011 at 1:23:05 pm

We share most of our footage. We have a big project every year that we make many videos of the same event to show the variety in our program. I believe the footage could be sorted through so that we could download the right footage for each workstation to edit. Normally we download them all in the same computer and share with the other 2 computers. Here is where we have the problems. Sharing footage from this one computer.

Thanks Bob and David for your help. If anybody else wants to pinch in your idea, please do it. It would be good to hear it.

PS: we have 2 macpros and 1 imac


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Bob Zelin
Re: Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 20, 2011 at 6:54:19 pm

Akeline,
the simple answer is that your company must spend money to buy a shared storage solution. You can do this with one dedicated MAC Pro, the existing 3Ware Sidecar that you have, and a multiport ethernet card. Are you telling me that you company, who has big projects, and 3 editors, cannot afford to do this ?

Bob Zelin



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Akeline Santos
Re: Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:48:14 am

Bob,
Our organization is a non-profit missions agency. We all work here on the bases of self-support. I am not necessarily saying that we cannot afford what you just suggested. I am just trying to find the best solution for now. I really appreciate all your help and insight.

Akeline


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David Gagne
Re: Building independent workstation - 3ware Sidecare
on Jan 24, 2011 at 9:26:07 pm

2 Mac Pros, 1 iMac...

Bottom line the iMac will not be able to connect faster than 1GB Ethernet... So focus on the Mac Pros. How much storage do you need for active editing? How much for archive? Are you planning on adding more Mac Pros any time soon? If not you can probably just drop 10GB cards in both Mac Pros and have a wicked fast direct connection - put some good storage on one and you're good to go.

Bob probably has some good ideas. Like he said this will cost you money, but it's money well spent IMO to make those Mac Pros useful and save your people time.

I know with non-profits they tend to think of peoples time as cheap, but with skilled editors that time is valuable even if they are not paid much.

Shoot me an email, I'd love to hear about your non-profit and what you're working on - davidgagne at ihop dot org


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