USB and fcp

Posted by stephen Auerbach 
USB and fcp
August 23, 2007 01:33PM
In my last query one of the replies mentioned that FCP and USB are a 'no no.'

My intuition experience so far has been telling me this.

Can anyone elaborate as to whether or not USB and FCP (for anything beyond back up storage) are a bad fit???

Also, even if I'm just using USB for backup storage - isn't there a chance that I would need to work with the backup one day - so theoretically, isn't USB (if the assumption is correct) always a 'no no' with FCP.

Thanks in advance
Re: USB and fcp
August 23, 2007 01:49PM
The idea is that USB transfers in packets, and can't flow fast enough to work with video. Firewire streams, that's why we prefer it.

In practice, some folks who edit DV use USB drives without issue. I've done it. It's just one more potential problem. It's not recommended.

The backup idea is that you'd store it on the USB drives for longer-term backup, but copy it back to a RAID or FW drive to actually edit again.

Personally, I've gone to buying bare SATA drives (500GB, $109) and have a SATA to firewire case. I'm now amassing stacks of bare SATA drives to archive on. Best backup scheme in years, and if you need the data again... just plug in the drive!

Re: USB and fcp
August 23, 2007 02:30PM
the drag with going usb for backup is that you likely wont have much luck (performance wise) IF you need to go back and re edit what youve backed up.

there is really no reason to use USB, the price of a usb drive and that of a firewire drive are not really much if any different.
Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 09:46AM
I have had success over and over again using USB-2 drives to capture and play back DV. It was usually on short subjects. But no dropped frames at all.

In fact, on a Mac Mini or an iBook, its the only way to go because the FW port is being used by the DV device, and one never wants to daisy chain a deck off of a FW Drive.

Even in a professional setting, we had assistant editors logging and capturing from an iBook with a USB-2 drive.

But as mentioned above, I also think FireWire would be preferable if you had a choice, but USB-2 is not a show stopper in the DV codec world.

Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 10:10AM
> In fact, on a Mac Mini or an iBook, its the only way to go because the FW port is being used by
> the DV device, and one never wants to daisy chain a deck off of a FW Drive.

I'd very much disagree with that. If you only have one port, then capture to an internal drive and then copy to an external FireWire drive. The failure rate of using USB drives as a capture drive, in my experience, is around 90, 95 per cent. Yes, even for DV. This is from troubleshooting in a lab with about 120 rotating users. The ones who'd thought USB was good enough always ended up missing their deadlines and cursing out the computer when it was the fault of the couple of dollars they had saved by buying cheap equipment not up to the job.

I also agree with a previous observation that using USB drives can muck with the media, make the clips more susceptible to corruption -- possibly due to data rates falling behind and possible incomplete files being written.

It ain't worth it.
Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 12:24PM
I'm sure you had a valid negative experience, Derekmok. I dont know what the issue was in your lab. And it could be that a feature length project buckles and stutters on USB-2. But I do know that for logging and capturing (the internal drive is just to small to even play with) and for a multitude of projects over four or more years, USB-2 has been great. None of the problems any of you describe. Not even once.

On some projects it was just logging and capture for a full broadcast television series (iBook and USB-2), and then edited via FireWire on Mac towers (these drives had both kinds of ports). On others it was projects that were actually edited via USB-2. These were short subject. No problems ever.

Again FireWire is preferable. But having only a USB-2 port should not keep a project at a standstill while you are waiting for your Mac with 2 FireWire ports. Start with the USB-2 using a drive with both kinds of ports and move on to e better Mac as soon as you can.

Are you using an iBook or a Mac Mini?

Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 01:02PM
It would be interesting to get some sort of survey regarding users working with USB. I know I seldom had problems capturing HDV/DV to USB on my Windows machines. When I got my first Macs, I had constant dropouts. Though I've dropped any consideration of capturing to USB on my Macs, when I accidently captured to the wrong dirve on my newer iMac, I was surprised to find that about 20 minutes of footage had no problems. I've also had a couple of USB drives on my MS machines that were almost completely unuseable for video (or much of anything else for that matter.)

So we would need to consider:
Computer model
Intel vs. PowerPC
Brand & Model of drive
Video format
Length of typical capture
How full the drive was
...and a bunch of stuff I've forgotten.

VoiceOver Guy and Entertainment Technology Enthusiast
Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 01:21PM
"one never wants to daisy chain a deck off of a FW Drive. "

Who said that? That's certainly the way you want to do it, for most devices, except for Canon cameras, which don't play well with anything because they still insist on using the limited protocol.

On a tower or a laptop you can add a separate bus with a card. If you're using a Canon you may be forced to captured to the internal and then move it.

USB drives are not supported by Apple or use with their media applications. They will not prove reliable especially when the starts to fill or get slightly fragmented.
Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 01:58PM
Tom Wolsky said: "Who said that? "

I say that. My experience over the years has shown that daisy chaining from a drive you are capturing to causes a damaged directory and completely makes the drive unusable and losing all files until you "Disk Warrior" it. I have seen it multiple times from 1999 to the present.


Wow, it sounds like we are all very experienced guys who have had very different experiences.

I have, and will continue to use USB-2 on a limited basis. But 100% of the time that is on a 7200rpm drive inside of a LaCie, Maxtor, or WD housing with triple interface options. And some of those are the double raid enclosures.

I guess its truly a "your mileage may vary" kind of thing.

Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 02:54PM
I have never problem daisy chaining. Connect up everything before you boot and it's akways been clean for me. Been doing for years.
Re: USB and fcp
August 24, 2007 03:43PM
Christopher SJ sounds like an exception to the rule because USB-2 in my opinion is not recommended as a media drive / edit solution...ever. It is unreliable & not a recommended solution by any of the software makers.

Go with a G-RAID2 (FW400 / 2xFW800 / USB-2 all in one machine)



When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

Re: USB and fcp
August 25, 2007 12:04PM
Everyone seems to throw out there scheme of buying a bunch of raw hard drives and using them for archiving. It is great that it works for them. But hard drives sitting on a shelf are not really stable archive tools. I recently had a client who had a two day's worth of P2 shooting disappear using this method. They used the "bunch of drives" method of archiving.

Sure it is remote possibility... but I can tell you that it is definitely not an impossibility. This client knew what they were doing (other than counting on this back up system) and had taken care of the drives and stored them properly.
Re: USB and fcp
August 25, 2007 12:30PM
That's the problem with a tapeless workflow. No, hard drives are not stable backups -- optical discs (data DVDs) are better, tapes are better. It also depends on whether you buy really good drives; a shelf full of Lacies with P2 media on them will not make me sleep any better than if I had no backups at all other than my main hard drive.

I still swear by tapes. Not so much stubbornly refusing the tapeless workflow, but waiting until they come up with a viable, stable scheme for backups that can last 10, 15 drive I've owned has lasted this long.
Re: USB and fcp
August 26, 2007 12:39AM
this is an endless conversation. ive used shelved drives for backup since 1999, and only lacies have EVER failed. i have seen DLT tape content go south, AIT has as well. DVD (optical media) has yet to fail me but thats not a reasonable archive method unless you have someone whose sole job it is is to dump stuff to disc all day...

as far as an "edit as left" situation, you cant beat shelved drives.

the tapeless evolution introduces a lot of questions... "random viral deliverable" may be our best long-term option...???...???
Re: USB and fcp
August 26, 2007 02:15AM
>>"random viral deliverable" may be our best long-term option...???...???<<

That might be really true. I know Prelinger of the famous Prelinger Archives had a ton of important and interesting footage that he wanted to preserve for the future and he came up with exactly that idea. Capture it and release it for free on the internet. That means multiple copies on all kinds of formats all over the world. Something is sure to survive in that.

The whole idea of 'cells' - groups of people all connected like on systems like the internet is probably the way of the future, in some respects. How that will fit with the concept of ownership, profit and corporate espionage, yet to be determined.

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