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SSD Takes Off in Video Production Workflows

Welcome to the seventh edition of Pro Video Dealer news, where we take a look at some of the new, blindingly fast SSD-based technologies for data capture, storage and retrieval, all designed to accommodate the rapidly-expanding file sizes coming out of even quite affordable video cameras with resolutions of 4K and beyond, such as those from Sony and Blackmagic Design.

The cost of the memory for SSD has fluctuated somewhat, but has come down considerably—as capacity, read/write speeds and durability all continue to improve. This is great news for professionals who shoot 4K and higher-resolution video in the field and want to take advantage of the fattest signal they can get without lugging around heavy, bulky drives.

From the beginning of the HDSLR video era, Atomos has offered monitoring and recording devices designed to get the most of a camera’s video output. The company’s monitor/recorders have made use of SSDs for years now to capture video signals from a whole variety of camera outputs, usually in a more robust form than the camera is capable of recording internally. The new Sumo monitors display record 4K 12-bit RAW, 10-bit ProRes/DNxHR, among other formats.

G-Technology’s Master Caddy is optimized specifically for this Atomos workflow, and is inserted into the larger G-Speed Shuttle XL RAIDs. The Master Caddy for Atomos started shipping 6 months ago and the manufacturer continues to add to the lineup, with the latest offering a 2 TB capacity.

“As soon as we have new drive technologies, we make sure they are built into the Master Caddy line,” says Bobby Lombardi, G-Technologies Chancellor of Intergalactic Market Development. Lombardi acknowledges that Atomos users can buy aftermarket SSDs, but cautions that the authorized Master Caddy product is authorized by Atomos. “A lot of SSDs are probably going to be OK as long as you’re working in low resolution and at 30ps or slower,” he explains, “but if you’re shooting 4K at high-speed, those drives just won’t keep up.”

Only a few weeks ago, G-Technology announced the new, high-performing G-Technology the R-series mobile SSDs. These come in ½ TB, 1TB and 2B capacities, and are bus powered with write speeds over 500 MB-second and read as high as 580MB-second.

Sony, always a major player in recording media, recently introduced its SV-G series SSD drives, specifically designed for this kind of low-profile, high-speed, high-durability work. “They slip into these Atomos monitor recorders or Blackmagic cameras and they become for all intents and purposes a ‘memory card,'” says Joe Balsam, senior marketing manager, Sony Professional Media.

“Time is money. Speed is everybody’s goal.” These drives are unique, hey says, in that they’re built to last a decade—nearly three times the average competing device’s longevity—based in part on Sony’s proprietary methods the devices use to write to memory and a special approach to error correction. “We had discussions with the Atomos people,” Balsam adds, “and they have endorsed us as an approved device to interface with their products.”

Another major manufacturer in this realm is LaCie, with those immediately recognizable portable drives in orange casing. The new Professional Rugged Thunderbolt 3/USB-C SSDs offer connections to the rapidly spreading standard, USB-C—which is also compatible with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3. Videographers have been storing their precious image data on drives that look like these for years, but they’ve never before been able to achieve write speeds like the top-of-the-line USB-C SSDs.

Glyph, currently in its 24th year selling high-end pro memory—initially for music recording studios—has two recent additions to the SSD world, both based on the m.2 standard: The Atom and the Atom RAID. The latter is comprised of two memory sticks, striped in a RAID 0 (to show up as one drive) configuration.

“These are made out of aircraft grade aluminum like the Apple MacBook Pro,” says Glyph’s VP of marketing, Wayne Read. “They’re extremely fast. We’ve gotten write speeds of up to 860 plus-MB-second, and we’re introducing a docking station shortly. When used in conjunction with a playback device, such as Atomos, you can scrub 4K workflow in field.

“That’s important to a lot of our users,” Read concludes, “who don’t want to have to copy data to bigger drives, for time, confidentiality, data integrity.”

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