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Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.

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Bill Davis
Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 6, 2014 at 5:11:56 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Jul 6, 2014 at 5:15:33 pm

When John D posted his interesting thread about how the evolving Library model post 10.1.2 was driving sparse disk workflows out of his distributed NAS system, it caused me to spend some time considering the proposition of whether sparse disks still have a place for me.

And it only took an afternoons work migrating my Lightroom stills collections to LR 5 to answer the question for me.

Sparse disk workflow aren't really an FCP X solution as much as they are a general convenience for ANY referenced media process. They may well slow things down for NAS focused video shops. But for any editor who shoots on cards (or drives) who sees the benefits of a single file package that bundles content and and it's attendant metadata into a standalone unit, it still rocks.

That I was able to upgrade my software across scads of client projects and still launch and work with my original external sparse disk media bundles was comforting.

And having mirrored card backups of all my video and stills in one format is really nice.

(It took the sting away from being forced to sign up for Creative Cloud yet again to try to figure out how to upgrade my Apple Store standalone version of Lightroom. This will be the third time I've had to open then dump a CC account. Twice for me and once for my project manager wife at the end of her short duration Photoshop required client project. Arrrrgh!)

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 6, 2014 at 5:27:20 pm

[Bill Davis] "for any editor who shoots on cards (or drives) who sees the benefits of a single file package that bundles content and and it's attendant metadata into a standalone unit"

I believe those are called "Camera Archives" in Final Cut Pro. ;) Archives that in fact can be accessed as if they were the original camera/disk/card and are closed packages, as are sparse bundles. Perfect for archiving (hence the name :D).

All in all, I don't see how images of any sort could be of any advantage compared to what FCP offers by default. Be it in the form of archives or libraries. With the advent of Yosemite and "Photo" even your Lightroom libraries won't need any special treatment compared to all the other libraries you might have. That is, assuming that Adobe in fact embraces the whole concept and doesn't, once again, think they can do it better with their own thing, whatever that may be (Bridge et al?).


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John Davidson
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 6, 2014 at 7:49:53 pm

They definitely have uses outside of how we used them. I'm glad we're free of them though, if for no other reason than the fact that we're using the program a bit more like we're supposed to! :)

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Craig Alan
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 7, 2014 at 1:24:56 am

I thought you ran into a snag with the XLM files being buggy?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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John Davidson
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 7, 2014 at 4:58:57 pm

The team told me they would rather just backup the entire library for work projects and keep the XMLs for series metadata. Since all library media and cache is outside of the library file now, the library only gets about 40 megs big.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Craig Alan
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 8, 2014 at 1:39:25 am

Gotcha. Makes sense. The library is a small folder now and I guess the XMLs are still buggy? Or did you solve that part of it?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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John Davidson
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 8, 2014 at 1:44:17 am

XML's don't retain smart folders, on screen text data, and effect keyframes. I don't know if it's technically considered a bug or just not information XML is capable of preserving.

But with libraries relatively small it isn't an issue.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Craig Alan
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 8, 2014 at 2:14:19 am

Thanks. They don't seem trivial to me. I'd think they need to be fixed to allow XMLs to be a viable solution going forward. But the new library structure seems very solid and can be kept very small. Kinda like Time Machine is worth using but does not replace cloning.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Gerry Fraiberg
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:54:25 pm
Last Edited By Gerry Fraiberg on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:59:40 pm

[Bill Davis] "(It took the sting away from being forced to sign up for Creative Cloud yet again to try to figure out how to upgrade my Apple Store standalone version of Lightroom. This will be the third time I've had to open then dump a CC account. Twice for me and once for my project manager wife at the end of her short duration Photoshop required client project. Arrrrgh!)"

I was able to upgrade my standalone version of Lightroom to v.5 a few months ago without having to open a CC account. Looks like Adobe changed the rules of their game. Again.



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Erik Lindahl
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:28:07 am

A general question regarding using Image Discs. Has anyone had issues with file corruption? I mean if all media is "open" in a folder the odd chance of a corrupt file might ruin 1 out of 100 files. If you're unlucky enough to have a corrupt disc-image the entire project could be un-repairable. Or is this so uncommon one doesn't have to think about it or deal with it?


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Craig Alan
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:49:56 am

I ran all the past year with hundreds of these bundles on 7 computers. Not one failed. However, if you have mission critical stuff, they are no more reliable than any drive. You need a back up strategy. One advantage to bundles is you can back them up and have all your assists in them, including libraries and media folders outside the library. By the way the same logic applies to raids. We use Raid 0 which is the highest risk but the most storage and the fastest. For important projects we back up.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:41:05 am

But they do add a layer of "single point of failure"?

Of course one has backups of critical data. Just thinking things like a power-failure should cause a file to get corrupt. One file in a project normally isn't a problem unless it's the project-file or in this case… The whole media-asset bundle. But perhaps it's so uncommon it's not something one has to fear really?


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John Davidson
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:44:31 am

It would be the equivalent of your Time Machine backup becoming corrupt every time your city has a brown out, or you unplug the drive, etc. Time Machine also uses sparse disks.

But honestly, with the exception of Craig's classroom there's very little need for them that I can come up with these days.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:48:26 am

That's true, then again, Time Machine isn't know for it's "rock solid" performance… :)


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John Davidson
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:29:03 am

I got a call from one guy that had a corrupted one. Eventually he was able to get his stuff out. We also had one that acted a little funky, but I think it was all the crap we were throwing in the edit more than anything else.

They're surprisingly solid.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Sparse Disk Bundling, Revisited.
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:42:53 am

Question is: why would you be using one to begin with?


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