Working with Tapeless Media

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2008, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Barry Stone writes:

My friend Rick Lecompte (who turned me on to your newsletter) said that you would answer questions… So here goes, and thank you in advance.


I am ingesting AVC-Intra (HDV) media from 4 gig sdhc cards into FCP 6 prores via a Blackmagic Design’s Intensity Pro card. In order to back up the media I first import it as files onto a separate hard drive and then ingest it into FCP on my media drive ( a 5 terabyte striped external drive).


Rick said I should not keep my back-up media on the MAC, but I have a 250 gig hard drive with FCP and other programs on it and a separate I terabyte hard drive for the original media. Is this safe enough or do you think I need to have separate back up for the uningested media.

Larry replies: Barry, thanks for writing.

Here’s the issue – when you shoot tapeless you must always be concerned about having multiple copies of your footage. What if a hard drive dies? What if you accidentally erased the media? What if the dog ate…

Well, you get the idea.

Where you store the media isn’t important as long as two conditions are met:

  1. Never store media on your boot drive.
  2. Never store backup copies on the same drive that you are storing the original files.

If the footage is easy to replace, keep two copies (one for editing, one for backup) on two separate hard drives; not partitions. Whether they are internal or external, FireWire or SATA, is not relevant. The key is two separate physical devices. If the footage is hard to replace, keep three copies (one for editing and two for backup) on three different hard drives. Once you’ve copied the media, you can disconnect the backup drives, if you want.

However, at some point, you will need to consider permanent backups. For this, my current recommendation is LTO tape drives. They are not cheap – about $2,500 – but the tapes will last 20 – 25 years – far, FAR longer than any hard drive.

Recently, I’ve been talking with Bridget Price at Tandberg Data about LTO drives and they sent me some white papers that I found interesting. There are three digital tape technologies:

Of the three, I think LTO has the most promise for video editors. To help you learn more, here are two links she sent me that you can refer to. The first is an overview of Apple-based backup products.

This second link is a series of virtual tours of some of Tandberg’s products.

One of the reasons I’m leaning toward LTO is that the drives are made by a number of manufacturers – HP, Dell, Tandberg/Exebyte – so that we are not stranded if one vendor leaves the market.

Also, these products are used daily to back up servers in corporations world-wide. This means that there will always be a market for these units and tapes that is much larger than just video editing.


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One Response to Working with Tapeless Media

  1. Tapeless media | Sugarmunkee says:

    […] Working with Tapeless Media : Final Cut Studio Tutorials, Final …Working with Tapeless Media. [This article was first published in the April, 2008, issue of Larry's Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.] … […]

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