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Off-Loading Cards - Transfer Speed

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Robbie Leppzer
Off-Loading Cards - Transfer Speed
on Nov 7, 2011 at 3:36:19 pm


I’m an independent documentary filmmaker working on a feature documentary for national broadcast. I’m considering the Ki Pro Mini, along with an upgrade of my HD camera package. I’m attracted to capturing direct to Apple Pro Res HQ, but I have concerns about how the huge files will affect my daily production workflow, and if in fact it will be practical for me.

The time it takes to transfer or off-load cards at the end of a day (in order to erase the cards and use them again the next day) is a crucial factor in my production workflow process. And given the huge increase in file size for Apple Pro Res utilizing the Aja Ki Pro Mini, being able to utilize the fastest means to transfer the cards is a critical component about whether this workflow will work for me or not. If it is going to take many hours to do this after a long day of shooting, it may not be practical for me.

I’m currently shooting on the Sony EX 1 and in a heavy day of shooting, I record 5 hours of material (XDCAM EX 1080 30P codec on SxS cards), totaling 70GB (@ 14GB/hour). If I need to turn around and shoot again the next day, then I have to off-load the cards in the evening. Right now, it takes about an hour for me to off-load 5 hours of XDCAM EX files to two Firewire-800 drives via my MacBook Pro utilizing the Express Card port.

To record 5 hours of material with the Ki Pro Mini on to CF cards using Apple Pro Res HQ will require 112GB/hour, totaling 560 GB. I’m considering using the KPM with a 2/3” ENG HD camera, such as the Sony PMW-500 or Panasonic AG-HPX3100.

Standard CF card readers utilize a USB connection, which is notoriously very slow.

There are several CF Reader-Express Card Adapters that I assume are faster. But does anyone have experience with them and know how long it takes to transfer files?

Sandisk and Lexar make them, but the customer reviews are mixed about their reliability. Sonnet seems to makes the most professional version.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the Thunderbolt technology will also speed up CF card transfer. All new Apple MacBooks have Thunderbolt ports, and Lacie now makes a portable Thunderbolt 1TB drive. By Dec 1 Sonnet will have an Express Card to Thunderbolt adapter. This theoretically could dramatically speed up transfer times, but one article I read of an actual test of Thunderbolt reported that it was only about 2 or 3x faster than USB which wasn’t very impressive, especially given the hype about Thunderbolt being 10 or 20x faster than Firewire 800.

I will greatly appreciate hearing people’s thoughts on these matters.

Robbie Leppzer

Turning Tide Productions

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dan luke
Re: Off-Loading Cards - Transfer Speed
on Nov 7, 2011 at 10:45:01 pm

I use my laptop with a lacie sata II expresscard 34 in the express card slot and a Addonics AEPDDESU card reader with an sata port, I have 64 gig cards and can dump them to the laptop in about 20 minutes.

I upgraded the internal HD on the laptop to a 750gig version so I have plenty of temporary internal storage.

After the shoot I connect the laptop to my desktop as a firewire drive and transfer all the shoot footage to my raid.

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