Editing The Nutcracker, Part 2: Both Trials & Tribulations
tl; dr version: I had to buy a new hard drive, but seriously, you miss all the fun that way.
The SD Cards
When last I left you I had, with some difficulty, gotten all the footage onto the computer, though one of my SD cards was misbehaving. Even though I had reformatted and tested the card ahead of time, something clearly went wrong. Because the footage works fine, I suspect the index file on the card was corrupted. As you might suspect, I am retiring this card from production work.
In fact, best practice is to use new cards for each job, but as a low-income freelancer, it’s difficult to follow best practices all the time. Plus, I buy good cards and they should last at least a few jobs, especially if well taken care of and tested, as my cards are. In a truly ideal world I would have a video camera with dual card slots, but that didn’t make the final cut when buying this camera a couple of years ago. Next time.
This card wasn’t even supposed to be in the good camera; I had just bought a new 64GB card when I realized I needed another to handle all the footage I’d be recording in one day. What I didn’t take account of is that the fancy new card wouldn’t be compatible with my several years old Panasonic HMC-150 video camera. After a few moments of concern (panic), I had the obvious though to try it in my much newer Sony NEX-6, which was quite happy with it. So the Panny ended up with the older card, with the potentially disastrous effects described previously.
The Hard Drives
In my last post I also mentioned that hard drive space can be an issue when working with digital video. In fact, videographers, photographers and hard-core gamers are probably the only people who look at their hard drive, see it has 150GB left, and think, “Oh, I’m almost out of hard drive space.” And yet, there I was, juggling things around to free up space to ingest and edit the video.
Which was going well and quickly. Less than a week since the performances, and five days since starting, I was getting close to an initial cut of the first show. I was at the Waltz of the Flowers when I sat down Friday afternoon to try and finish it all up. And then the video that had been running smoothly all week began to stutter and became uneditable in its jerkiness. Another frustrating mystery.
But I know how to bug check this sort of thing:
- Quit and restart the program: no effect
- Restart the computer: no effect
- Clear more space off the hard drive: no effect
- Ask the Google what the f#$@ is up?: you need more hard drive space
You see, even after importing the footage and creating proxy media which are smaller files that the computer can work with more easily (but take up even more space), as you edit the video, new work needs to be rendered, which involves creating still more files and taking up more hard drive space. And even though I had been able to free up the technically minimal 15% of my hard drive, things were still stuttering, and every indication was space was the problem.
USB 3 and Thunderbolt and Firewire 800, Oh My
Now hard drives these days are relatively cheap, certainly compared to twenty years ago when I first started working with technology and you paid by the megabyte and boy did you pay. But video work requires fast hard drives and fast connections. When I bought my iMac four+ years ago, it had a fast connection, Firewire 800, which was the fastest connection readily available without paying a lot more money. But that was four years ago.
Now everyone was saying I needed USB 3 (fast and cheap) or Thunderbolt (faster and not cheap, but getting cheaper) for video, and Firewire 800 was a barely acceptable minimum. At first this made no sense to me: I was working with video even more than four years ago, and FW 800 was great, what could possibly have changed?
Oh, right, HD (high definition) video. Very few were working with that four years ago, and HD video requires more of everything: hard drive space, processing power and bandwidth between your drives and you computer. However, my only option was FW 800, so the search began.
And lo and behold, not only did my local Best Buy have a Firewire 800 hard drive, it also has a USB 3 connection (future-proof) and was reasonably priced! After recovering from my shock, I took on the pleasurable task of going to Best Buy for a business-related purchase on the Saturday before Christmas. I’ll leave that trip to you imagination.
I Decree There Will Be No More Technical Difficulties
So back home, free up time on Sunday to set it up, and copy the Final Cut Pro X library from the internal hard drive to the new one. And wait. Apparently half a terabyte of data takes some time to copy, even over a pretty fast connection. But copy it did (I’m keeping the old one in place just in case) and it was time to test everything out and see if I had solved the last problem I’ll face in this year’s production (except for the major disc labeling issue I’ll share with you later). And it worked! It’s not the quietest drive, and there are still some bandwidth issues, but it’s well beyond workable, and I think the remaining 1.5 terabytes will be enough to get me through this production.