It’s no secret that digital filmmaking requires a lot of hard drive space. Five minutes of HDV video will take up about a gigabyte of storage, and it only goes up from there. Cinema RAW footage can take up 5-10Mb PER FRAME! How do you store all this data (your great footage!) and not break the bank?
One solution is to use a hard drive dock. There are a bunch of models on the market, and they usually cost between $30-50. A drive dock replaces the case and connection to your computer. They come in USB, Firewire and Thunderbolt connections.
Most of the cost of an external hard drive is in the case and the “bus” — the connection to the computer. A hard drive dock replaces all that, and allows you to buy just the hard drive. This can save you a ton of money. At the time of this writing, for example, Amazon is selling a 1TB external drive for $59-179 — depending on the quality. A 1TB hard drive with no case runs about $50 — and that’s for a high-quality brand.
Working with your data this way has a number of advantage. For one, you are saving money (that’s the title of this post), but also you are more flexible. Since you can afford to buy two or three raw hard drives for the same money as one external with case, you can do a lot more. Have a drive for each of your projects. Have a few drives dedicated to backup, because we all know that drives fail and you should always have 2 copies of your work. Have a drive just for movies, for your music, for photographs. Chances are that you won’t need all of your data all of the time, so pop in the drive(s) that you need and ignore the drives you don’t.
When you’re not using your drives, there are a number of storage options. A padded, portable case is good if you want to bring the drive with you to a film shoot or class. LUCAD labs have several docks available for use. Another option is inexpensive stackable drawers. These are static-resistant (so you don’t fry your drives) and you can label them, put them on a shelf, and grab them when you need your data.
A hard drive dock is a great money-saver for digital filmmakers. A single investment of $50 will save lots of money over time, and you’ll start to see savings right away as you expand your storage options. Make sure you get the version that takes 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, because you’ll want to be able to access the data on the 2.5″ SSD drives used by our cinema cameras!