RAID and the Ideal External Media Drive

For many people, editing video using your internal hard drive as a scratch disk (where you store your audio/video material) is a fine choice. But what happens when you begin to edit multiple layers of video and include stacked filters, motion effects and composites? Your ability to handle real-time playback will decrease because there are more rendering tasks your computer has to handle in order to play your sequence without rendering. You’re thinking “I have a a fast computer with multiple cores.” Processing capacity reflects your computer’s ability to render, because rendering is the process of calculating many complex mathematical equations to create new rendered video as the result. But we’re trying to increase our computer’s ability to handle more tracks, more effects and more complex sequences without having to render. This is real-time playback ability and is very dependent on how fast your computer can read your video material from your hard drive. When your video is on your internal hard drive, your computer is reading data for your operating system, open applications and your video all from the same source. This can cause congestion. By putting all your project data, video and audio material onto a high performance external hard drive, you are relieving your computer’s internal hard drive of performing double duty.

So the answer to increasing the performance of your video editing/animation/graphics workstation is to go out and buy an external hard drive. Stop right there! Not all external hard drives were designed for video editing. raid controller  Most of them were intended for file backup or photo and music storage. You need a high performance external storage system designed for the much higher demanding tasks of multi-track video playback and rendering. So what makes an external hard drive suitable for video editing?

Read Speed and RPM’s

This will depend on what type of video you will be working with: compressed (MiniDV, HDV, DVCPROHD, XDCAM, etc..) or uncompressed formats. The faster the read speed, the more complex layers you will be able to playback in real-time. Compressed formats require less speed than uncompressed formats. Your typical internal hard drive has a read speed of 35-45MB/s. External RAID 0 hard drive solutions (containing two hard drives) can over 80MB/s. Solutions with even more hard drives can achieve speeds far beyond that. A hard drive’s speed can be gauged by the RPM rating such as 7200rpm or 5400rpm. Most people know RPM stands for Rotations Per Minute, but no all are clear on what it means for hard drives. On the inside of a hard drive lies a disc that spins. The fast it can spin, the faster data can be transferred. Typically, internal desktop hard drives run at 7200prm while most laptop hard drives run at 5400rpm. There are some higher end laptop models that have 7200rpm hard drives, but manufacturers typically use the slower drives because they require less energy and therefore extend battery life. For media applications look only at drives that are 7200rpm or 10,000rpm (enterprise class) drives.

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