Quick info – LTO versus hard drives for archival

I wrote this up in reply to someone on the Facebook Post Chat group and thought I’d like to have it archived over here too. I will update it with more info a links soon:

Some comparisons and real world data for reference: LTO6 will run you about $1500-$3500 for the drive. $30-$60 per tape. Each tape can store 2.5TB. It’ll write at about 160/MB per second. We regularly use LTO5, tapes are about $20 for 1.5TB. On LTO5, we can backup, compare & verify a single 1.5TB volume in about 12-15 hours. Even with the 10-15% speed up to LTO6, I expect you’d see similar or slightly longer times to backup (with the bonus of an extra 1TB of archival). Media files don’t take much advantage of the compression of LTO, so look at the uncompressed numbers for planning. If you enjoy the command line, then you might be able to just use LTFS. If you aren’t a masochist, then you’ll be using Retrospect or Bru to do your backup and restores (make sure you make a plan to backup your backup catalogs!). Your media can be properly stored on a shelf for multiple years and should be readable until LTO7 drives are no longer readily available.

Bare Hard drives run about $50-$100 for 2TB. Transfer times vary depending on system capabilities, you could see times around 10 hours for 2TB of transfer (longer if you do a verify and compare afterwards). Your data can live on the shelf for a number of years but based on my experience I wouldn’t trust it much past 18 months. In my experience, hard drives fail far more regularly than LTO tapes become unreadable.

As with any archival system, you will want to put a procedure in place that allows effective and timely management of the media you want to archive. You have to make time in your schedule for project backups. Our LTO drive is attached to a separate system that is dedicated to that task and we transfer media into that system via a 10GB switch. You may find it works best to have a two-tier system: hard drives for short- or near-term archival and LTO for long-term storage. As always, YMMV.

The Sound of Sports

Being a fan of 99% Invisible, I learned of this amazing radio documentary, “The Sound of Sport,” produced by Peregrine Andrews for Falling Tree Productions and broadcast, originally in 2011, on BBC Radio 4.

It is an incredible look (or listen) into the art of capturing all the sounds of sporting events. Just as we’ve progressed to HD video, sound too has evolved to bring the viewers closer (and sometimes right into) the action.

“The Sound of Sport,” delves into what it takes to cover these live sports. It is presented by Dennis Baxter, a sound engineer and designer. Dennis is truly one of the “wizards behind the curtain,” when it comes to live sports coverage.  Hearing his insight into his work is incredible. Also featured is Bill Whiston , Sound Supervisor for Wimbledon Tennis (et al). I was fascinated to learn how they mic a tennis match – it really does take you right onto the court. The show also talks with sounds designers of sports video games and sport-related movies & how they have been influenced by and, in turn, influence live sports coverage.

If you are at all interested in the fields of sound, mixing, live production or even just how deeply you must go to bring viewers into an event, then you should give the show a listen – preferably with headphones – it is an aural treat.

Anatomy of an Edit

If you’ve ever wondered what all goes in to making a promo for a network like PBS, I’ve made this short little video. The clip below is 4 hours and 30 minutes of editing work (which is about half of the total time spent to make the piece) compressed into 60 seconds. Take a look:

And here is the spot created from the work above:

The graphics were created by a design firm in LA, but I had to massively tweak them after the initial look wasn’t approved by the final client. The final color correction and audio mix were done at Post-Op Media (where I work).

Just a cool little insight into what it takes to do this kind of work.

Uncanny place…

So I built a simple 3D environment (sometimes called 2.5D) in After Effects to do some moves on some archival photos. I think they look nice. I even built in some depth of field so that I could play with drawing the viewer’s eye to certain places on the screen as the camera moved. I rendered them out and included them in an early cut of the show I’m editing.

Over the weekend, the roughcut was shared with the 3D graphic artist so he can review the sections we need him to cover with high-tech looking, CG animations. He comes back with some notes on what he can do – including this one: “I can make those stills shot on the table look better by redoing them in an After Effects 2.5D project – make them more moody & sensitive.”

He is offering to redo the work I’ve already done. I am not sure whether I should be offended or take it as a compliment. He seems to think the stills were actually shot on a real life table, so I’ve got that going for me. However, in spite of the fact that I seem to have fooled him, I hope what I’ve done isn’t so bad that he’d like to redo it better.  If he (a professional graphics person) can’t tell how I created them and is fooled then I may be better at this than I realize…or we’ve got other problems.


A low-rez example of the look & feel of what I created

I’ve discovered I have a new allergy

It came to me last night. In the midst of a back-and-forth comment flow about the newly announced MacPro: I am allergic to people arguing about platforms.

I get all itchy when people start railing against a brand based on some new product announcement. Hearing “Apple is dead to me,” causes me to twitch. I break into a cold sweat whenever I hear someone claiming one platform is the best there is and everything else sucks. It makes me ill enough to want to leave the conversation right away.

Are people really basing their loyalty to a brand or product on an announcement of a yet-to-be-shipped product? Seriously?!? So, the newly announced MacPro won’t allow you to make use of the PCIe expansion cards you are using today? Even though you are working on a 4-year old platform? With a 6-year old technology in PCIe? Even though not a single third party software or hardware developer has announced what their plans are for working with the new platform? Well, Grant Petty from Blackmagic has good things to say, so we’ll have to see if others will follow.

I’ve watched this industry struggle through some significant changes and this argument, while changing topics, remains constant – people can’t stand change. I read it best in the comment on the Blackmagic thread above, “it’s really just the case of people wanting a bigger horse instead of a car.”

Someone asked me, after voicing my hatred of platform wars, why I continued to bother participating. I had to stop and think. I replied, “its in my nature to seek out & keep as many tools in my kit as possible. I have to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest info and trends. While it may make my skin crawl, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let knee-jerk reactions and opinionated bloviations win the day.”

“Oh my god,” came the response, “could it be possible that you’re going conservative in your old age?”

“Exactly the opposite,” I replied,” I embrace change. I love learning all this new stuff. Bring it on.”