When unloading the memory card on set from our Red Epic, it's very important to be able to give a feedback on the video material as fast as possible. For a while, we moved around our Macpro and used eSATA connectivity. But that was quite some hassle in term of amount of gears to move. I wanted to find a solution based on a Macbook pro. I had a 15'' available (no Express card slot, and not eSATA). So I gave a shot to Sonnet's solution through a Echo Expresscard thunderbolt adapter, and a Tempo SATA Pro ExpressCard.
Now I have both Firewire 800 and eSATA available on the Macbook pro. I ran an easy speed test transferring a 4,29GB file of RED footage from the RED Mag over to : Internal SSD hard drive, a 4 discs RAID5 from RAIDON, and a Lacie Rugged drive. Here are the results switching between eSATA and Firewire.
Not much surprise, we notice clearly that transferring in and out of Firewire gives a very significant speed drop.RED -> FW800 -> internal
RED -> eSATA -> internal
RED -> FW -> eSATA -> RAID5
RED -> eSATA -> eSATA -> RAID5
Internal -> eSATA -> RAID5
RED -> FW800 -> FW800 -> RAID5
RED -> eSATA -> FW800 -> Lacie Rugged
To check the integrity of our files, we use the MD5 algorithm. I measured how that algorithm performed with FW and eSATA on the different discs. Again, this test is performed with the 4.29GB RED footage.
Interesting to notice that the MD5 check takes about as long as the copying with Firewire. But here, eSATA makes a real difference, it's more than twice as fast! On a copy+verify operation, that would be around a 30% increase in speed.MD5 FW800 RED
MD5 eSATA RED
MD5 FW800 RAID5
MD5 eSATA RAID5
MD5 FW800 Lacie Rugged
Last but not least, I checked how the whole system performed using Silverstack to copy 44GB of footage on two discs, and verify it. I used my RAID5, and a Lacie Quadra (so that I have eSATA available as well). With my system from Sonnet, I get only two eSATA ports. It's theoretically possible to use a port multiplier to get more ports, but I didn't have any available. So I used the RED Mag on Firewire (conscious of the slower MD5 processing time, which might take about 3 extra minutes on the whole process).
Lacie quadra eSATA
Result: 22mn 35s
Lacie quadra FW800
Result: 54mn 23s
By using this setup, my DIT process is more than two times faster! That's a significant improvement, worth the investment. Eventually, we'll rack all the hard discs, adapters, card readers,... into one box with just a Firewire cable and a Thunderbolt cable to hook into the Macbook pro.
One important note, with Mac OS X 10.7, memory cards formatted by the Red camera are not recognized by the Mac when used through Sonnet's adapter with eSATA. Sonnet is aware of the issue, and currently working with Apple on a fix. So for now I'll stick to Firewire for using the Red Mag.
Do you have some similar experience, tips, insight, into speeding up the transfer with a Macbook Pro?