It's Time to Put Your Fears Aside

I am not normally a fearful person, but I must admit I am a tad nervous when it comes to offloading and storing my original camera files. This is especially true while I'm working overseas or in remote locations, where the critical task may take place under less-than-ideal conditions. In the current era of tapeless and diskless workflows, my principal storage volume is at the core of everything I do, so naturally I demand an appropriate level of security in terms of redundancy as well as the high performance required for seamless editing of multiple video streams at 2K and 4K resolutions. Like most of us these days, shooting increasingly at resolutions higher than HD, I am concerned about proper management of the much larger media files, and therefore I demand the most reliable and rugged HDD or SSD RAID I can find. 

The new CalDigit T4 RAID is that drive.

Fig 1 CalDigit T4 FRONT

The CalDigit T4 is a true professional storage RAID offering content creators and filmmakers very high performance in a rugged and extremely reliable package. 

Learning the Hard Way
Like most media professionals, I’ve experienced my fair share of hard drive failures. In most cases, from a strictly technical perspective, it was not the hard drive that failed but a cheaply manufactured controller board or interface connector. The latter failure happened to me in 2007, while shooting a movie in a remote corner of Rajasthan India. The flimsy FireWire connector on my portable drive went intermittent and finally stopped working completely.

More recently, at NASCAR in 2013, I experienced the failure of two separate FireWire controller boards in different RAID systems. The business of shooting motor sports is hard enough, particularly around a NASCAR track. I don’t want to add my own personal crashes of critical hardware to contribute to the chaos. Needless to say, for the pro shooter and filmmaker, reliable gear—especially one’s primary media drive—is not only imperative to the exercise of one’s good craft, but it also means staying employed!

Reliable to Its Core
Working regularly on a range of fiction and non-fiction projects, the CalDigit T4 is my go-to solution, offering supreme reliability and performance—particularly when fitted with SSDs. The T4 can accept both conventional 3.5-inch HDDs for economy and 2.5-inch SSDs for maximum performance and reliability. The beautifully machined, all-aluminum unit is rugged as hell, and considerably more compact than other four-drive RAID systems. To me, the T4’s reduced size is important, as I must often transport the drive on airplanes to meet with producers in a distant city or set up a workstation in my hotel room.

Fig 2 CalDigit T4 REAR COMP

The unit featuring two (2) Thunderbolt 2 connectors mounts to a Mac right out of the box. No fiddling or loading of drivers.  My T4 arrived from the factory preconfigured for RAID-1. I prefer RAID-5 for most projects because it offers the best combination of performance and security.

The CalDigit T4 Thunderbolt 2 RAID system has a storage capacity up to 20 TB and is configurable as RAID-0, -1, or -5 (or some combination with JBOD) by utilizing the utility software provided with the unit.

To me, the RAID5 configuration makes a lot of sense. 

This past summer, for instance, in connection with Ridley Scott’s Equals, captured on location in Japan and Singapore, I shot, edited and produced the movie’s accompanying featurette from a hodgepodge of combined 2K and HD source footage.  The T4 formatted RAID-5 with striped drives and distributed parity offers the best of both worlds, combining very high actual throughput with good redundancy. This offered the flexibility I needed to manage a range of resolutions in multiple streams, and peace of mind that my original material was protected.