Comments on

Fired Wire

Original entry posted: Thu Jun 28 20:44:55 2007

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Fri Jun 29 03:30:01 2007 EST

Gosh, I dunno, I---I love Firewire! I use FW 400 for all kindsa stuff---several drives, both bus-powered and not, and of course, getting video into my computer for Final Cut Pro. And it works great; always has. Once, one of them crapped out; I spent $30 replacing the enclosure and it worked just fine from then on.

Maybe I'm spoiled because I'm on a Mac? I don't know much about FW performance on Windows, so maybe that's where the laptop problems happen. Certainly my bus-powered FW 400 drive works just great on the laptop, even when the laptop is running off battery power. In fact, it spins fast enough to edit DV resolution video, something I've done many times, and draws surprisingly little power from the battery (I edited for about two hours without running out of charge, with all video on the bus-powered drive).

I'm also prone to complacency because I remember painfully well what it was like using SCSI drives. Oh, the conflicts! Oh, the agony of SCSI numbers! Oh, the disasters caused by a drive getting unplugged! I've had FW drives get accidentally unplugged in the middle of an operation, and then be reattached with no harm done. That, that's gold!

USB is snazzy, but it just doesn't seem to work for video. I've never tried a bus-powered USB drive, but I can't imagine how it could work better than my FW drives. So I'll stick with lovely, lovely Firewire for now---long may it reign!

Thomas @ Fri Jun 29 07:18:18 2007 EST

Yeah, USB's not good for video. And it's really not good for uncompressed or HD video. It's not fantastic for multichannel audio, either. But it was never meant to be. USB2 is a clever hack, but it's still a hack.

Meanwhile, FireWire suffered from poor implementation by everyone except for Apple--which figures, since they were making money off of it. You've had a better experience than I have, that's for sure.

I'm amazed you managed to unplug a SCSI drive. We had a SCSI RAID hooked to a Media 100 machine in the sound studio before we moved to Pro Tools, and the connector was a beast--one of those 68-pin jobs, where just the pins could hold it in the connection from inertia alone.

All that said, nobody likes a smartass.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Fri Jun 29 10:38:20 2007 EST

I have to admit, the lack of Firewire implementation is one more reason I couldn't make the switch to PC. I simply couldn't do my job without it, and it's always worked great for me (on the Mac). If FW implementation is as bad as you say on the PC side, that might be one more reason why so little serious video work is done on PCs (something I've always wondered about---I mean, I love my Mac, but I've never understood why it's so overwhelmingly the weapon of choice for video; poor Firewire support would explain it).

It's worth noting that the article isn't saying that FW is doomed; it's saying it's destined to be "niche"---like, say, Digibeta, which was The Standard for over a decade. Which is fine by me---if "FireWire support will continue in peripherals like digital camcorders and hard drive enclosures for the foreseeable future", well, that's what I use it for, so that's just fine. Dunno where else it would be expected to "grow" to.

Thomas @ Fri Jun 29 10:56:19 2007 EST

FireWire support on the PC isn't necessarily bad, although it's not terribly good either. It's mainly just that nobody has it. I went looking for motherboards that included 1394 ports at one point, because I do like my M-Audio Firewire Solo, and pretty much nobody includes it. You have to add it via PCI (or in my older laptop's case, Cardbus).

A lot of the problems I'm describing, we have them here at work on our Macs, too. Remember, we're also FCP-based. Some of the G5s are astonishingly badly grounded.

Hey, speaking of Final Cut, have you had a chance to mess with version 6 yet? We just got it in, and I hear that Soundtrack has gotten really good.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Fri Jun 29 15:06:08 2007 EST

Haven't messed with 6. I actually loved Soundtrack in FCP Studio 5---it's definitely not the most full-featured sound app out there, but is perfect for the basics of audio-for-video in a very easy to use package (the easy to use noise filter has saved my life many times). I hear it's been very beefed-up in 6, though, so I'm looking forward to trying it.

Apparently they've also done a whole lot for multiple editors working with networked material; I haven't had to deal with that situation, but perhaps you have?

Thomas @ Fri Jun 29 16:25:44 2007 EST

To be honest, we don't usually have multiple editors on a project, and I really only do post for one of our team members. So I haven't run into it yet. We're working on setting up a networked RAID for stock clip storage (a consultant suggested the FCP Server, but we were thinking something a bit less elaborate), so it might happen eventually.

Lucretius @ Sat Jun 30 12:44:11 2007 EST

I can honestly say I've never used firewire. I've seen the ports, the plugs, I've seen people use it. My macbook has a port. Past that, it's never really come up for me. USB however...USB is everywhere. Cables, flash drives, ext. HDDs, chargers, creepy toys from thinkgeek, and more. Hell, I'm just glad my new macbook has USB 2.0, I was getting of my old compy not having it. I dunno, USB has just worked for me. That's all I really need. I guess I don't need fire(d)wire.

Thomas @ Sun Jul 1 12:09:21 2007 EST

Unless you're doing multimedia, most people will never use FireWire. USB works fine for everything else.

On the other hand, I had to transfer some files from a USB2 hard drive to a FireWire drive on a computer that either uses a USB1.0 hub, or didn't have 2.0 at all. It took 72 hours to transfer 90 gigs. That was unbelievably painful.

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