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Tipping point for price of CF cards?


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#1 Mike Brennan

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 04:22 AM

What price do CF cards need to drop before production gives up on the idea of dumping data on location and instead, buys and owns cards as it does tape?


What is a data wrangler with support equipment, expenses hotel transport ect going to cost? Min US$1k a day?

For docs and low budget there will be pressure for existing crew to do the transfers.
In which case it is just cost of the cloning kit and a six pack of Red Bull.

I reckon 60 minutes for $150 would consign data transfer (as a neccessity) to the history books.

It really would be beter if we didn't go down this road at all... erasing rushes before final edit :o

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 05:20 AM

I would take the position that it shouldn't require an extra person to do this regardless. It should be as simple as insert card - press button - change media. If it isn't that simple then the system is wrong.

In either case long before CF becomes a long-term storage medium, hard disks will - for something like Red, which is so heavily compressed, that's probably already realistic.

Phil
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#3 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 12:55 PM

I would take the position that it shouldn't require an extra person to do this regardless. It should be as simple as insert card - press button - change media. If it isn't that simple then the system is wrong.


Hi Mike and Phil,

Digital Media Management, at least at this stage of the workflow game is simply not quite that simple; especially on projects where you have non-stop shooting throughout the day for multiple days. Add a second unit and it grows exponentially. Distilling it down to "insert card - press button - change media" would be nice. Maybe it should be that simple as Phil says.

The considerations in the digital field workflow for instance are: Capture, transfer to field RAID, backup to shipping RAID, shipping, transfer to working xServe RAID, studio backup, return disk to field and studio archive. While shooting and shipping RAIDS back to our Las Vegas office at any given time we hold the data on up to four different RAIDS:

1. The working RAID on-set
2. The shipping RAID that is shipped back to the Edit Suite
3. The xServe RAID in the edit suite
4. An archival RAID

The shipping RAID is only reformatted once it gets back to the Media Manager on-set. Our most vulnerable point in the process is when the shipping RAID is in transit from the set. If it gets lost or damaged we still have the data on the on-set working RAID. Once we get it in the edit suite on the xServe Raid and backed up to an archival RAID only then do we feel safe about it.

Unless it's a fairly small project, Media Management is a full-time responsibility when you consider sorting, review and copy/transfer times.

Our largest project was about 18 months ago with two ten member units shooting 35 days (6 on / 1 off schedule) in 18 cities from Miami to LA. We used the above workflow and never lost a single clip, nor could we afford to. It seemed like all I did was buy more drives for the first few weeks.

By comparison, this process is completely redundant if you look at traditional film or tape based workflows. If the film or tape gets lost/damaged in transit or processing/transfer/dubbing you are completely screwed. At least in a digital workflow you have the OPTION to make backups as soon as you physically can, albeit time consuming and of course expensive.

Mike, I think you pose a great question of at what point does the digital media become an expendable item so to speak like tape or film. That is probably not too far off in the distant future where you buy a box of flash memory cards for $15-30 each and they each hold the equivalent of a 400' / 1000' mag or 30 / 60 minute tape.

I think my argument at that point would be whether you would still not take the time to back it up right away when you can have that safety net that film and tape does not offer.

Lastly, Production Insurance policies usually have a Rider under the Inland Marine section that covers loss or damage to film or tape stock "Faulty Stock, Cameras & Processing" is how it reads on my policy. Many of the insurers will NOT cover a completely digital workflow at this point which is interesting since I can have exact digital backups of my digital workflow quicker and easier that I could with film or tape.

My apology for such a long posting.

Robert Starling, SOC
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 01:41 PM

Couldn't agree more - the only workflow to come close to what I suggested is S2, but it's frankly so heinously unreliable that I would never, ever use it for anything serious.

I would prefer to create a situation whereby we were able to do everything on set without having to involve the post house all the way through principal photography. Transferring stuff to two verified mag tapes and creating proxies is something that can be made pushbutton easy and is clearly very much more reliable than couriering unprocessed 35mm neg around and dunking it in caustic chemicals.

The real cost saving of it would come from keeping it self-contained. Of course, you'd have to have a preproduction discussion with the post people anyway, but you could avoid having to have them spend time on dealing with dailies work.

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#5 Mike Brennan

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 06:37 PM

Couldn't agree more - the only workflow to come close to what I suggested is S2, but it's frankly so heinously unreliable that I would never, ever use it for anything serious.

I would prefer to create a situation whereby we were able to do everything on set without having to involve the post house all the way through principal photography. Transferring stuff to two verified mag tapes and creating proxies is something that can be made pushbutton easy and is clearly very much more reliable than couriering unprocessed 35mm neg around and dunking it in caustic chemicals.

The real cost saving of it would come from keeping it self-contained. Of course, you'd have to have a preproduction discussion with the post people anyway, but you could avoid having to have them spend time on dealing with dailies work.

Phil


Thanks for the replys, both very valid.
Its interesting to predict how workflow and technology will develop.
The Panasonic P2 player with LCD screen is a neat device.


Given small footprint of CF hardware perhaps duplicate, simultaneous in-camera recording could be the most insurance friendly?


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 07:11 PM

Not to be argumentative, but there is something a bit ironic, after years of film technology being beaten-up by the pro-digital crowd for its short recording times (10 minutes max) and high cost per minute of footage... people are now living with 5 minutes per CF card and contemplating just buying more and more CF cards at a couple hundred dollars apiece.

Sounds like... film!

I'm not being serious, I know film is still more expensive, but it does prove my point that having to reload every five to ten minutes is not the horrible burden that some video shooters have made it out to be. Though I'm sure that the 16GB RED CF card will be very popular when it arrives.
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 07:37 PM

.... but it does prove my point that having to reload every five to ten minutes is not the horrible burden that some video shooters have made it out to be.

On bigger budgets, the option to have an hour or two of material in one load might not be such a good thing, especially towards the end of the day. If some disaster happens to the camera, you have more to lose. If you're doing anything at all dangerous, it might be wise to swap cards fairly often.




-- J.S.
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#8 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 10:51 PM

...it does prove my point that having to reload every five to ten minutes is not the horrible burden that some video shooters have made it out to be.


Excellent point David makes here; with higher capacity digital media you end up with longer run times but greater potential for loss before download. Over the course of a day you have less vulnerability with your scenes spread across multiple mags/cards than having all your "eggs" digital or film in one basket. Bigger is not always better.

Robert Starling, SOC
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#9 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 02:08 AM

Excellent point David makes here; with higher capacity digital media you end up with longer run times but greater potential for loss before download. Over the course of a day you have less vulnerability with your scenes spread across multiple mags/cards than having all your "eggs" digital or film in one basket. Bigger is not always better.

Robert Starling, SOC
Steadicam Owner Operator
Las Vegas


With that in mind, I've always questioned the wisdom of doing another take "for safety" on the same mag. It never made much sense to me.

As far as longer run times go, it is important for interview situations when you don't want to break the flow just to reload. That said, after having shot countless hundreds of interviews over the years, there generally is a max out time for an interviewee when they need a break and the tape change is a good excuse. At times, I've even called for a tape change when it wasn't necessary when I could see that the interviewee was in need of a break and the interviewer doesn't seem to care. Having the ability to shoot an hour or more at a time isn't always a good thing for a lot of reasons.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 02:56 AM

Put it this way.

An hour of full HD is about 720GB.

Two 720GB hard disks (for archival redundancy) cost... what, US$400?

This is already very nearly worth doing.

Phil
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