View Full Version : Two HVX's for a 300 hour documentary
05-23-2006, 09:59 AM
I have a unique project that I'm producing that has a unique set of workflow issues that need to be worked out.
Here's our dilemma.
We're driving from Alaska to Argentina and intend to document the 4 month, 18,000 mile roadtrip with (2) HVX's. Our calculations are assuming that we will shoot about 300 hours of footage during that time. At 720p, thats almost 6.5TB of storage that we need to handle.
Here's the other problem. Since we will be traveling through some tricky countries in South America, we will need to be sending footage back once or twice a week to Los Angeles to be stored and assembled by our assistant editor. Do we send it on harddrives? Do we rent a deck and lay it all off to tape before sending it out?
We're traveling in a Toyota Landcruiser, so space is limited and we'lll need a small and mobile solution for storage and duplication.
Everyone raves about the tapeless workflow, but in this case its going to make our lives very difficult unless we can come up with a clever workflow solution.
05-23-2006, 10:02 AM
P.S. My equipment budget is about $30,000.
05-23-2006, 10:18 AM
ask documaker here on dvxuser about the satellite system he uses. It may be within your budget.
05-23-2006, 10:21 AM
Having just finished a year on the road shooting with my DVX, my advice is to not shoot 300 hours. I shot about 200 and that was too much. I guess it all depends on your story angle.
05-23-2006, 11:31 AM
I have a unique project that I'm producing that has a unique set of workflow issues that need to be worked out.
Here's our dilemma.
We're driving from Alaska to Argentina and intend to document the 4 month, 18,000 mile roadtrip with (2) HVX's.
That would be fun to watch as a 5 minute timelapse.
05-23-2006, 01:05 PM
I have some suggestions on this project based on our own trek into Central America two years ago.
Our project was to tape (as HVX wasn't out yet) but the ratio question is a good one. How many people are on your production team and are you also the driver(s)? Is it a single vehicle or are you a support vehicle to a larger party?
This question will dictate a lot of your ratio unless you're lipsticking all day long. We shot about two tapes a day as we documented our trek through Mexico to Belize and Guatemala. We had a higher ratio (about six tapes a day) once we settled into Belize for 10 days.
I'd FedEx hard drives only from major key cities along the way. It would be wise to keep a complete back-up with you until you receive word that the dailies have been received and verified stateside.
I have a lot of travel logistics resources I can put in front of you if you need any support here. Good luck and safe travels.
05-23-2006, 04:09 PM
We will have (2) vehicles. One picture vehicle and another support vehicle.
Four persons on camera, two persons behind camera (shooters).
We've been talking about purchasing 15 of the new ruggedized 80GB Lacie harddrives and building foam inserts to house them in rugged Pelican cases. We could then ship 5 of those harddrives at a time back to Los Angeles and keep another 10 for use while those 5 are being unloaded and shipped back to us en route. In theory it seems to work, but the main issue is realiability and physical space taken up by 3 Pelican cases for the drives alone.
I would love to see you logisitcal info.
05-23-2006, 04:21 PM
I just finished shooting a network pilot with two HVX-200s. We shot about 180 hours of footage between the two cameras in a week. I can tell you a lot about the workflow. I am working on a web article that will appear in a few weeks on www.kenstone.net
Let me know if you have specific questions. P2 in these quantities is possible but definitely not easy or cheap.
05-23-2006, 05:22 PM
Sounds like a great trip.
Why not back up to Dual Layer DVD? Each holds about 9.2 GB so you would need about 720 for 6.5TB of intended storage. At $3 or so per disk that equals $2,100 for media cost. Shipping these in packs of 5 to 20 would be far less expensive than shipping drives due to both weight and insurance costs.
Plus, you are on the move. You don't want to be stuck waiting for the drives to be coming back, or constantly looking for your next "Safe" receiving destination down the road. In your situation I think it will always be easier shipping out than receiving.I would hate to have those drives stolen, "stuck in customs", opened for inspection, etc. The DVDs will sail in and out without much question. You could even ship multiple packs to increase the odds of only losing a few instead of a whole set.
Have your edit team back home confirm receipt and backup them up for you. That way you can cycle the drives once you get an email, sat call, smoke signal etcetera that everything is ok.
The good news is that the first part of your trip is in the USA, so you can get your workflow worked out until you hit the Mexican border.
I'm envious of the trip. Are you going to have any type of travel blog?
05-23-2006, 05:59 PM
Blu ray drives are 1000.00 and currently hold 25 gb. per disk cost per gb is higher than DL sided dvd's but with an external enclosure maybe?
05-23-2006, 07:05 PM
"Why not back up to Dual Layer DVD? Each holds about 9.2 GB"
Hi Rob. I am going down that road as we speak. Dual Layer DVDs can hold 8.4 GB. You should also know that with current 2X media and drives (the 4X stuff doesn't seem to be around too much yet), it takes 46-48 minutes to burn an 8GB P2 card (which is actually 7.23GB fully formatted).
Too time consuming when you are on the move. I am really disappointed with backing up P2 to DL DVD, it is a pain, inconvenient and expensive (at least time-wise).
Blu-Ray sounds promising but I bet it's REALLY slow. That's the problem with all of these forms of archiving, one method is slower than the next. DLT takes forever. Hard drives are viable but delicate and relatively unreliable. Maybe this is why we just bought a new AJ-1200H and are going back to shooting tape. P2 doesn't really work well for massive amounts of footage and shooting times IMHO.
05-23-2006, 07:12 PM
Im very interested in hearing more about your experiences.
Please let me know how to reach you.
To the others, we've considered the DVD route but came to the same conclusions that Dan has - too slow to burn.
We havent yet explored the AJ-1200 route because I assumed it was well out of our budget range and unrealistic to tote around while on the road.
We've also considered renting two Varicams, shooting to tape and mailing copies back to LA, but because those cameras are so large by comparisson, shooting within the vehicles is nearly impossible.
05-23-2006, 07:17 PM
Rob, we will certainly have a travel blog along with a live GPS map to see where we are. We will also be doing weekly video blogs.
05-23-2006, 09:55 PM
Sorry I got the math wrong. Hmmmm 4.2 + 4.2. how did I screw that up. Well You could double the # of discs and use 16X burners. That actually might not be so bad. EDIT: By doubling the discs, I meant that you would be using single layer 4.2GB 16X media. Taiyo Yuden is great media at about .50 cents a disc.
On a road trip of this nature (with countless hours of sit time in the vehicles) it might not be fun, but it could work. Maybe you use the harddrive workflow through the US and Canadian parts of the trip and switch to DVD method when south of the border?
There have also been discussions in other areas about alternate tape backup solutions too. Advantage: back up 100GB to 200GB at a time while on the road. Disadvantage: You need a deck at each end. Check out this thread about LTO tape drives:
400 minutes backed on a $100 tape and faster than real time, per the thread.
Just another thought.
05-23-2006, 10:21 PM
Chris and Dan,
I have thought about this some more and I really think that single layer 16X media is a strong contender. I reviewed some notes of a project that I worked on a few months ago and found the following.
To burn a single layer DVD with 3.95GB of data on it with a LaCie 16X burner was taking less than 5 minutes per disk with high quality Taiyo Yuden 16X media. Often inferior media will cause burn times to double or fail. The newer burners in essence will have to throttle back their speed in order to make a safe burn.
You would need about 1,600 discs (notice I said about) for about $700 to $800 to back up 6.5TB of material. Not bad and something to do on the road.
Oh, and I also read here that Apple actually came up with an interesting P2 workflow. Insert P2 into Mac (assuming you are using Macs), make disc image of P2 with Disk Utility and name file Reel Name and #. At the end of each day you might have 10 - 25+ image files, but they would be exact dups of the P2 card. Burn to DVD ship back and they would mount just like a P2 card. Your editors could import into FCP using your reel Name and # scheme and maintain a perfect match with what your shot.
Just more to think about.
05-23-2006, 10:26 PM
The way I see it, you don't need that many hard drives. There are 750GB drives out now for $500 each. Figure 20 of those drives would be 20TB or 10TB when run in RAID 1 - easily enough for your trip. Fill them up in RAID 1 and when full, send drive A to LA and keep drive B in your possession. Start filling up drives 3&4. By the end of your trip, you would have only slightly more than half as many drives to store. You certainly would want a spare drive or two in the event of a failure or a drive lost/damaged in transit.
Make sure the heads are parked before you mail out the drives.
500GB drives would be much cheaper per GB but take up more room in your vehicle. Either way you chop it up, 6.5TB is a hell of a lot of data.
05-23-2006, 10:27 PM
Rob's way sounds interesting. I think that would assume 4GB P2 cards though. You didn't state what size P2 cards you would be using.
You could also go and buy a REV Iomega drive. It holds 35gb, they say its rugged and transfers as fast as a firewire Hard drive. This may be the way to go, in my opinion. You can always keep a copy for yourself and send one Rev cartridge by the mail.
05-24-2006, 08:19 AM
Thats a good idea and something I looked into a while ago. Though I didnt know that they were as fast as a firewire harddrive, so I dismissed it as a viable option.
Direct from Iomega, $2,000 will get you two drives (one for the road and one for the office) and (20) 35gb cards. Thats about 32 hours of footage at a time - not bad.
05-24-2006, 10:41 AM
The Iomega idea does sound interesting. I used their Jazz series stuff for years with little problem. Heck, maybe they would donate the gear in return for some testimonials about their ruggedness, if that proves out.
The Iomega carts run about $50 retail when purchased in their 4-pack config. It would still be quite costly to use them unless you planned on cycling them back to you after transfer to edit in LA. 6.5TB of carts would equal about $9,200 at their retail price. Ouch.
So maybe a tiered approach. Some hard drives, some Iomega carts, and some DVDs (for the really dicey areas).
I bet your spreadsheet is getting pretty hairy with all these alternatives, shipping costs, insurance, and customs fees. I am sure the trip will be worth it.
What is your departure and destination city?
05-24-2006, 11:26 AM
Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
for some basic info.
05-24-2006, 01:05 PM
How important is HD in this mix? How about shooting widescreen SD to DVCPro on tape. Can't the HVX do that? Otherwise, how about widescreen DV to tape?
The more I see this kind of stuff, the more I think P2 isn't cut out for high ratio documentary work just yet. Instead of simplifying things, it's actually complicating things and bringing in new risks and expenses too -- maybe offsetting the advantages a little. Granted, you get better-than HDV quality, but this stuff sounds like a real PITA for high ratio docu work as far as I can see.
05-25-2006, 07:40 AM
Chris, please let us know the solution you decide on. Looking forward to see how this works out for you.
05-25-2006, 10:29 AM
You will undoubtedly want to have a primary and secondary mechanism for protecting your footage as it's awfully hard to go back in time!
The 250-320+GB medium capacity drives are tried and true. Robust and economical.
Right now the sweat spot is the Western Digital 3.0Gbps 320GB 7200RPM 16MB Caviar SE16 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822136003&ATT=22-136-003&CMP=OTC-d3alt1me).
The satellite option is an attractive option as well.
How much sending 6.5+TB of data will cost is another question all together.
Taken together the Hard Disc Drive option and the satellite options together are an elegant solution that should serve you well and let you rest easy at the end of the day.
I have always used the U.S. Embassy's or Consulate's mail system.
It is U.S. Mail from the moment you post it to the moment it is received. It is dispatched in a sealed bag directly from the embassy via U.S. Control and does not go through local customs or their mail system.
Perhaps this would work for you as well?
Keep us up to date on your progress!
All the best.
05-25-2006, 12:01 PM
e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org