Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When Hard Drives Crash: My Story

Hard drives fail. It's a fact of life.

Everyone has either had (or will have) a horror story about losing valuable data. In this digital age, tangible media is going out the window and is being replaced by invisible bits of data that make up our hard work. These bits are fragile and can easily be lost. It is up to us to foresee this loss and to prepare for its inevitability.

I felt I had come to a pretty good place (after an initial quest) where my data could be safe. Using a "split" archive, I have two large 5TB drives will all my known video work, separated across my home network. Projects on my laptop were being archived to one external drive, which would then archive itself during the night (using Bvckup2) to a network-connected drive at the other end of my apartment. I felt pretty safe.

Then, the second drive (the backup of the backup) wigged out and was empty. Attempting to re-copy the first drive proved futile. Something was amiss and I couldn't even low-level format (writing a zero to every single byte) to try to start over. Fortunately, it was still under warranty.

Then the panic set in. I only had one drive that contained all my stuff. Sure, there was some on my laptop, but those were only current projects. All the archived stuff was now only in one place. My "redundant" system had failed me. If this second drive (the same model) failed, I was screwed.

I immediately purchased another (different brand) drive, but I'm in a remote place and had to have it shipped. It would take at least two weeks to get here. Would that first drive hold up?

The good news is, it did hold up. My new drive came in the mail and I immediately copied everything from the first drive to it. I then made the new drive my primary backup and the older one the new secondary backup.

The failed drive was sent back to the manufacturer for a replacement, and is on its way back to me as we speak. When it returns, it will be my third backup, which will travel off-site (my work cubicle) and come back to be refreshed monthly.

I guess the moral of this story is that two backups aren't enough, you need three. If one fails, you'll still have the peace of mind of two in reserve. The odds of those two failing before the other comes back are pretty slim, though you may want to take one off-site until the third returns.

Q&A: Frugal underwater camera rig?

Today we're talkin' new intros, the Eventpod, underwater rigs, duplicating a long and fake single take, and lighting a dark lounge. Oh, and there's a trivia question!


The Prize: BT-168D Battery Tester
The Frugal Fattener 2 (Camera Grip)
Eventpod Monopod Mod
Original PVC Camera Stabilizer

Saturday, January 30, 2016

DIY: Frugal Fattener 2 (Camera Grip)

If you've got big gorilla hands like me, you have probably become frustrated with modern super-small digital cameras. Sure, they produce great images, but they are like a toy in your hands. If they are not in a rig, they can be hard to just hold, to say the least.

This problem led me to create the original Frugal Fattener, which gave my tiny camera some much needed girth and added a nice soft foam handle as well. The problem with that version was that I had issues changing the SD card and battery (forcing me to remove the camera from the Fattener), and setting the rig down meant resting the lens on something.

The Frugal Fattener 2 addresses these problems by raising up the camera for better battery and SD card access, and placing a metal stand that juts out in the same direction as the lens. Assembly is a very easy and requires no drilling or cutting.

I really like the Fattener and it allows me to easily and comfortably use my camera for shooting stills. I now have firm grip on the thing, can change out needed parts easily, and can set it down without worry.

Metal flash bracket
Angled piece from C-bracket (a second flash bracket could also be used)
2x Manfrotto clone quick release systems
Foam handle camera grip (blue/black)
2x Large 1/4-20" knobs  (knobs from the flash bracket(s) could also be used)
small 1/4-20" knob (taken from flash bracket)
Cold shoe mount (or use one from the flash bracket)
2x rubber or neoprene washers (hardware store)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Q&A: Do you actually use all this DIY stuff?

Today we talk about a frugal blooper reel, my next short film, a pvc camera rig flashback, PVC shame, and whether or not I was hit by the Alaskan earthquake.

My Director's Reel
Original PVC camera rig video
PVC ratcheting cutters (Amazon : eBay)
Flash brackets are the new PVC
Review: cheap light stand


Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Director's Reel (Trailer?)

A few weeks ago I had a question on the Q&A show asking about how to create a better reel to show off your work. Sometimes called a "sizzle reel", this trailer-esque presentation puts all the best of your stuff into one quick and yummy snack.

I know that reels are not supposed to exceed three minutes, but mine came in way under that.  I feel like I have a decent amount of material, but also didn't want to overstay my welcome. As a result, the clips are very brief and the whole affair lasts just over a minute.

I also broke the tone up into two parts, drama and action. The first half has a somber piano for a soundtrack, while the back half is throbbing drums, with clips matched accordingly. I'm hoping this shows the range of what I can produce (though comedy isn't represented very well) and brings enough "sizzle" for those watching.


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