What hard drives to use with the Shogun, and a data strategy for 4K editing

One of the coolest things about the Atomos Shogun, and its major advantage over the Odyssey 7Q+, is its ability to take most third-party SSDs and even 7200rpm drives.

For a full and updated list of compatible drives, click here.

The cheapest and most cost-effective drives

The choice between SSDs and HDDs are simple. Use SSDs always whenever possible! HDDs have the following disadvantages:

  • They revolve so create additional noise.
  • They get warmer.
  • They cannot be knocked about, and must remain stationary or risks failure.
  • They are slower (they max out at about 125 MB/s) and risk dropping frames.

However, I do recommend you keep one or two HDDs handy, for these important reasons:

  • SSDs are expensive, and you might run out of storage at some point. HDDs are cheaper.
  • You can record longer events with it
  • They are not bad!

I use and recommend the following drives if you’re on a budget:

  • Intel 530 240 GB SSDs (about $127)
  • HGST (Hitachi) 1 TB 7200rpm 2.5″ HDD (about $77)

Two SSDs and one HDD will run you a total of just $330 or so – that’s less than the price of one 256GB drive from Convergent Design!

If you have the money, nothing beats the Sandisk Extreme Pro series. They have proven reliable over the long term over tough professional conditions.

Data rates

Here are the data rates recording in Prores:

 x  x Prores
 x Versions 444 HQ 422 LT
1080p at 30p maximum Data rate Mbps 330 220 147 102
Data rate MB/s 41.25 27.5 18.375 12.75
Minutes per GB 0.4 0.6 0.9 1.3
Minutes per 240 GB 99 149 223 321
Minutes per 1 TB 424 636 951 1371
UHD at 30p maximum Data rate Mbps 1326 884 589 410
Data rate MB/s 166 111* 74 51
Minutes per GB 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.3
Minutes per 240 GB 25 37 56 80
Minutes per 1 TB 105 158 237 341
DNxHD
Versions n/a 220(x)* 145 36
1080p at 30p maximum Data rate Mbps 220 145 36
Data rate MB/s 27.5 18.1 4.5
Minutes per GB 0.6 0.9 3.8
Minutes per 240 GB 149 226 910
Minutes per 1 TB 636 964 3884
DNxHR
Versions HQX^ HQ SQ LB
UHD at 30p maximum Data rate Mbps 874 874 578 180
Data rate MB/s 109.25 109.5 72.25 22.5
Minutes per GB 0.15 0.15 0.24 0.75
Minutes per 240 GB 36 36 56 180
Minutes per 1 TB 153 153 245 768
  1. *220x is 10-bit, while 220 is 8-bit, that’s the difference. The equivalent of Prores HQ is 220x.
  2. ^HQX is 10-bit. It is the equivalent of Prores HQ.

For more information on DNxHD/HR, check out this white paper by Avid: http://resources.avid.com/SupportFiles/attach/HighRes_WorkflowsGuide.pdf

For more information on Prores, check out this white paper by Apple: https://www.apple.com/final-cut-pro/docs/Apple_ProRes_White_Paper.pdf

Most of the time, Prores LT, DNxHD 145 or DNxHR LB is good enough. If you’re going to do some heavy grading, then Prores HQ or DNxHD 220x/HR HQX is perfect. Visually, you won’t see much of a difference between the two, so when in doubt, use LT. You must have a strong reason to go for HQ. Read more about this in the lesson on 4K footage quality.

*Prores HQ at UHDp30 is very close to the write speed of the HGST 1 TB 7200rpm drive, so be careful!

Assuming you are shooting 4K in Prores 422, you can record up to 1 hour on a 240 GB SSD, and up to 4 hours on a 1 TB drive. If you opt for the three-drive strategy I’m following, you can shoot a total of 6 hours with the drives you have.

The best solution is to use the SSDs, and only use the HDD if you have to.

4K Editing

Every project needs 4 copies of footage:

  1. The work copy – the one you edit off
  2. The backup copy – the one you must have on standby if your work copy fails
  3. The off-site copy – the one you must have in-case your onsite copies fail, get corrupted, are stolen or get destroyed. This storage gets larger and larger the more projects you do. This is your archival system.
  4. The permanent onsite backup once your project is done. This storage gets larger and larger the more projects you do. This is your primary backup system.

For most professional-level work:

Most people combine options 1 and 2 to form a RAID array. If you’re going this route, I recommend RAID 10, with a minimum of four drives 4 TB each. RAID 5 is okay too, but I prefer RAID 10 or RAID 0.

This gives your drive system a total of 16 TB, of which only 8 TB are available. 8 TB gives you 237 minutes x 8 = 1,896 minutes or about 30 hours of footage. That should be enough for most projects. Exceptions include long-form or feature-length movies and documentaries.

A 4-drive RAID array will you have an approximate read speed of about 250 MB/s, which gives you about 4 streams of Prores 422 UHD.

Of course, you can also use a 2-drive (4 TB) RAID 0 array and copy everything to an external drive.

For 4-bay editing, you can look at these manufacturers:

Important: Don’t buy a NAS!! No Synology or WD or Netgear or Buffallo, etc.

For simple work like short films, corporate videos and music videos:

The footage needs for these kinds of projects tend to be lower, because the final output is less than 5-10 minutes on average. It is uncommon to shoot more than 4 hours of footage on such projects (though it is doable!!).

For cheap editing, I recommend the external version of the HGST drive mentioned earlier, the HGST Touro S 1 TB 7200 2.5rpm drive ($70 only).

You’ll need three of these. Two in RAID 0 and another one just as backup. Why do you need RAID 0? Even though you only need 1 TB of space, you need to edit smoothly. Most editing timelines have at least 2 tracks of video, and maybe more. The more simultaneous tracks you have (for green screen, effects, inserts, etc.) the faster your drive needs to be.

Two drives in RAID 0 will give you about 250 MB/s, which will give you about 4 tracks of UHD video in Prores 422.

If you don’t want to deal with RAID, then you can also get away with:

You can charge clients for each additional backup or copy per project. The work drives will be reused of course.

So, under this option, you can start editing projects with these drives:

  • Shogun – 2x 240 GB SSDs and 1x 1 TB 7200 rpm 2.5″ drive
  • Editing – 1x 1 TB SSD for editing and 1 x 1 TB HDD for onsite backup^ (higher if your data needs are more) and 1x 1-4 TB HDD for offsite backup
  • Total cost? About $600 all inclusive!

^You can use this drive as a production backup drive as well!

FAQs

These are important topics raised by subscribers that shed more light on this lesson.

Q. Should you worry about USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt?

A. No. USB 3.0 is fine. If you have Thunderbolt, no problem either. It doesn’t matter really.

Q. If I’m using external drives, how do I configure RAID?

A. Use software RAID. Both Windows and Macs can easily configure RAID 0 or RAID 1 without any extra gear. This is perfectly fine for most editing needs.

Q. What brand drives should I buy for RAID?

A. Hitachi, Western Digital Black or Seagate Barracuda.

Q. How do I power multiple external USB 3.0 drives?

A. Transcend TS-HUB3K USB 3.0 4-port Hub. It comes with an external DC port to provide proper power to all hubs. It can also charge an iPad.

Q. Should I use Prores or DNxHD?

A. When you have the option of both, stick to Prores. If you’re a PC user, DNxHD makes more sense. Windows and Prores doesn’t play together sometimes. If you’re a Mac user, Prores definitely.

Click on the link below to the next lesson or head over to the main menu (above). If you need help with something, feel free to send me an email. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.