For the modern DIT on the sets of film and TV drama, speed of transfer for camera files is the number one consideration
Alanna Miejluk is an independent UK-based DIT who has worked on some high-end TV dramas like National Treasure and Fleabag. Her job, as any DIT will tell you, is to at all costs look after the camera data and shepherd it on its way to post-production. That of course is just part of her remit but perhaps the most important one.
Productions treat their data handling in different ways but there is always one constant requirement and that is speed. The quicker the footage can get from camera to an editor’s timeline the better and Alanna has found that the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is winning the race.
“I use my Samsung Portable SSD T5 drives as a portable backup and a way of getting the footage to editorial very quickly. On jobs we use them for editorial for a copy of the masters and MXF to the editorial suites. With the 2TB that we get in the SSD T5 we find it’s perfect to use as a shuttle drive back and forth to post-production. Every day it’s wiped so I find that 2TB is more than enough for our requirements.
“Practically we usually shoot about ten to 20 minutes then download what we have shot to the Samsung Portable SSD T5 drive. It depends on the show we’re doing and also on the camera we’re using but we do that about five times a day. We would then send the drive in a hard case straight to the post house using a runner or a courier.
“Usually what you’d do on a job is to arrange with production how many Samsung Portable SSD drives you need – we have several, as of course you’re using multiple drives per day to achieve the speed of transport from set to post house. We love drives like the Samsung Portable SSDs as there are so many advantages and you tend to need about six of them to make the job work so the rotation works between you and editorial.
“For most jobs we shoot 4K video and in Raw so you need these speeds that the Samsung Portable SSDs give. Usually when you do your backup from the camera card to the hard drive, you’re backing up on to a master, which is a backup drive or a RAID, and then the editorial drive. When I do it I do it all at the same time so if your editorial drive is a bit slow it bottlenecks the whole process; so we need drives as fast as our backup drives to keep things moving through. Productions are now allowing us to use these Samsung Portable SSD T5 drives more and more often.”
Alanna sees at the moment that 2TB for her is a perfect size as you can get at least an hour of 4K video on it. “Throughout the day we probably shoot three hours of footage and that can all fit on the 2TB Samsung Portable SSD T5. But there are other great things about these drives, such as them being self-powered, which is perfect especially with USB 3.1; you can get speeds of around 540MB/s. In a way it’s essential the drive is bus-powered – we wouldn’t consider a drive that we would have to plug a power lead into for something you have to send to editorial. You want to get it, plug it in and start dealing with the files. That’s also a great thing speed-wise, as editorial are able to pull it off quickly and get it straight in to the AVID editor.”
Alanna also has a Samsung Portable SSD T3 drive that she keeps for her personal use in her handbag and it’s amazingly durable compared to a spinning disk RAID, and can easily withstand being constantly carried around. For the Samsung SSDs she uses for work, she has small hard plastic cases to carry them from set to editorial. They’ll all be colour and number coded and have a record of exactly where they are as they are signed in and out of places.
Of course as we’ve found in this series of articles that when you introduce such a fast and streamline drive in to a creative environment, you find other uses for it. Alanna explains how she uses the Samsung technology for other transfers, “Sometimes I will be required to pull off say 2TB of data for whatever reason. I now use the Samsung Portable SSD drives rather than the hard drives we have. It’s perfect for transporting large amounts of data quickly. This happens when someone has queries for a VFX shot for instance, they quickly want to check something but don’t want to interrupt the shoot. It’s seconds rather than minutes which really helps.”
Alanna remembers when she worked on the National Treasure drama for Channel 4. “They were going to shoot with two cameras using a file format that was very data heavy. I demanded the use of Samsung Portable SSD drives as my job wasn’t possible without their speed. Production now understands how important these drives are and is allowing much more use of them. It’s literally impossible to do your job if the drives are too slow.”