Panasonic Cameras Forum
large quantity Backup in the field
large quantity Backup in the field
by Kim Rowley on Oct 16, 2009 at 3:09:36 pm

Hey all, I've written in the past but am having a difference of opinion with the director on this subject who says I didn't give you all enough info. So...

I have a more than month long shoot in various nations in Asia - precisely Corea, Japan, Phillipines and Tailand - coming up starting January 2010. I will be bringing 2, possibly 3 HVX 171 cameras and shooting SD DVCPro50. It is NOT a documentary shoot but rather the documentation of several conferences from start to finish so we will be generating a great deal of footage. Let's say for safety sake we can count on at least 4 hours of material per day which in DVCPro 50 would mean an average of 120 Gigs per day. (4 P2 32gig cards) So total footage before the trip's end will be more than 4TB if my calculations are correct. We currently have 2 2TB Western Digital Drives and one 1 TB WD drive. Oviously though if we want to work in at least RAID 1 for data protection these disks will not provide enough room. The director sustains that backing up to LTO would give us more peace of mind but I am leary about that based on what some of you said when I posted this question the first time. Sure, having the data on LTO tape would provide security and if I offloaded a second copy of the material I could even ship back a duplicate copy home ahead of us. That is tantalyzing...
Is the process of laying off to LTO the same as laying off to a hard disk? I imagine it would be slower but aside from that is it as easy as plugging the LTO into the Macbook Pro and using Shotput?

Thanks for any feedback on this subject.

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11

Re: large quantity Backup in the field
by Jeremy Garchow on Oct 16, 2009 at 4:23:22 pm

It wholly depends on your LTO system and it's interface. I have become pretty familiar with the Cache-A prime cache. It is similar to backing up to a drive, but also very different. I would still recommend getting a cheap two drive swappable Sata enclosure or two (for safety) and then just buy raw Sata drives. With 2 TB drives on the market now, you can bring 8 drives for 16 TBs (!) of space. Using Shotput Pro, you send the material to the two drives. This will increase performance, and it won't tie you to a Raid1 system. You will simply be making two copies at once. You can keep/travel with one set and ship home another.

The LTO machine we have connects via GigE and transfers at about 80MB/sec. It's pretty cool and decently fast for a tape device. You would have to make two tapes, though, to cover yourself and you have to do it one at a time. With drives, you make the two copies right off the bat. Also, if your Lto gets lost, stolen, or broken, it will be hard to replace in a short time, if not impossible with import/export rules. Computer drives will be more readily available. Remember what I said before, when you're trapsing around the world, you want the path of least resistance when it comes to data transfer and backup. The LTO is better left in the studio in my opinion. Unless you want to bring two LTO drives, but that gets expensive really fast. I think all of the previous advice you received earlier still stands true.


Re: large quantity Backup in the field
by Thomas Tomchak on Oct 29, 2009 at 5:42:24 pm

I think there is no single way to attack this problem, and 10 different people will give you 10 different answers. I've been working with the tapeless P2 format for several years now (as well as XDCam and SxS) and here is the advice I would give based on my experiences.

Normally in the field I would do straight to 2 different hard drives (sometimes 3) using Shotput. It allows for immediate, separate backups and it's very fast. However, because you're going to be on the road for so long I probably would consider going the LTO route in addition.

I would make sure that I had enough hard drive space to create at least 3 copies at any given location. So for example, if the conference is 3 days in Thailand, then have enough HD space to make sure you can save it all to the hard drives, and have at least 2 copies of everything.

At the end of every day (if possible) I would take what had been shot and put it on 2 LTO tapes. On the last day of the conference in that location, I would send one set of LTO's back to my office and keep the other set with me for the duration of the trip.

Once I received word that the LTO tape had been received, I would erase the files from the HD's I was using and prepare them for the next location.

So at no one point do you have less then 2 copies, and you end up with two sets of LTO tapes, in different locations, that are rock solid backups. If one is lost, changes are both will not be.

The LTO part would have been difficult a few years ago, but using one of the new drives from Cache-A will make this a lot easier to do on the road. The unit is a self contained solution for exactly what you're talking about. You don't need any special software, just a network connection between your Mac and the unit. You can even plug hard drives directly into the unit and copy files that way as well.

There are too many details to get into here, but I did write a review of one of their units on my blog at You can read details on that by going here...

If you need more help then this, I am often hired on jobs like this to be their on-site archive technician (AT) and have traveled as far as Beijing and Bangkok doing jobs just like this.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Sounds like you have a great gig ahead of you.

Thomas Tomchak
President, Edit Creations, Inc.

Edit Blog

Re: large quantity Backup in the field
by Kim Rowley on Oct 31, 2009 at 11:38:08 am

Thanks Tom (also for the email at my personal address). I appreciate all the info you share. You've given me alot to think about. Cache-A certainly is onto something big with that drive. It's a bit steep as far as price, but will give it thought. Is there a different model LTO drive that doesn't cost as much that could be worked into the workflow? I gather that the drive we were discussing is more expensive because it has a built in HD, right?

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11