Our guide to Thunderbolt 3: Is it time to upgrade?

Our guide to Thunderbolt 3: Is it time to upgrade?

It’s been almost two years since Intel announced Thunderbolt 3, trumpeting it as the new “computer port nirvana”. It is currently the fastest, most versatile connection for any dock, display or peripheral device, including all manner of USB storage. So is it time you upgraded to the most up to date standard in connectivity?

Bandwidth

First of all, let’s look at bandwidth. Thunderbolt 3 offers a huge 40Gbps, double that of Thunderbolt 2. But very few devices are built with components that even come close to filling all that, so is there a benefit? Well, yes and no – in reality, with Thunderbolt 3, the protocol or bus is no longer the bottleneck.

If you daisy-chain enough external hard drives, you will get a speed boost, but the connection won’t make a single external drive with just one disk any faster. When you’re using multiple Thunderbolt peripherals down the same cable, all that extra bandwidth can become useful.

lacie_12big_cables_all_hr

For example, the LaCie 12big with 12x enterprise-class hard drives pushes the throughput beyond that achieved with Thunderbolt 2, up to 2600MBps. And that’s actual transfer speeds not theoretical bandwidth. If you use a really high bandwidth SSD like that in the LaCie Bolt3 (PCIe nVME) it is possible to saturate all that lovely bandwidth – 2800MBps! That’s enough for some serious realtime 6K editing straight off SSD.

Extra functionality

Thunderbolt 3 also delivers power to your laptop – the LaCie 6big and 12big deliver up to 15 watts to your MacBook or MacBook Pro! Thunderbolt3 cables are now the same size as USB-C, the next generation interface, and USB-C devices will work on Thunderbolt3 ports.

LaCie 6big

It also supports 5K displays, and packs in plenty of other functionality like display port video and PCIe support, using an adaptor. So if you’re currently rocking Thunderbolt 2 or other previous standards, now might be time to think about upgrading your ports and achieving the highest, happiest state of connectivity.

Want to know more about Thunderbolt 3 and LaCie storage? Email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or call 03332 409 306. For everything else, ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24.

3-2-1 backup solutions for photographers

3-2-1 backup solutions for photographers

To mitigate against the ever-present threat of disk failure, a corrupted card or accidental deletion, backing up should be a major concern for any professional shooting images and video. Luckily, there’s a whole array of products that can help you follow the golden rule: always have three copies of your data, on two types of media and keep one backup copy offsite.

Backing up in the field

It’s best to ingest dailies and rushes as soon as possible after a shoot, then start making multiple copies straight away. You can ingest and duplicate straight on to mobile drives – we recommend a ruggedised one (i.e. one that’s got at least some drop and shock protection) like the G-DRIVE ev RaW Rugged 1TB hard drive. If you find yourself working in a particularly exotic location where water, sand and dust pose a threat to your backup copies, then choose drives with the added protection of an all terrain case.

Even the most rugged and reliable mobile drives can still fail, so a nifty way to make two simultaneous copies to disks is by using a RAID, and for backups in the field there’s nothing better than the Rugged RAID from LaCie. It’s even bus-powered over Thunderbolt too, so there’s no need to lug around an external power supply with you.

rugged_graid_drive

Backing up in the studio

Depending on your field backup strategy, you might want to make additional copies when you’ve back in the studio. If you’ve backed up onto G-DRIVE ev modules then you can drop the mobile drives straight onto a RAID-protected storage array like the G-SPEED Shuttle XL ev, which adds further protection for your data against disk failures. If you only need one additional copy, you could drop backups on to a straightforward external drive. While there’s no redundancy built in should the drive fail, this is a popular fuss-free solution, and with external drives now sporting capacities of up to 10TB you get plenty of bytes for your buck. Take a look at our range of external drives here.

Backing up to other types of media

m_tape

Maxing out internal storage, cards and drives can get expensive, especially if you’re keeping multiple copies of your data. Offloading to lower cost media like LTO tapes or centralised NAS storage is a good strategy once you have an initial copy sorted. While it takes longer to recover data from tape than from other media, the cost per TB is exceptionally low and you don’t even need a centralised LTO tape library to benefit. The M-TAPE Thunderbolt Tape Drive is direct-attach over Thunderbolt, and this bundle comes with YoYotta software to index, backup, archive and restore all your camera ingests and track assets from production to post.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Upgrading Swansea City FC to HD and exceeding Premiership standards

Upgrading Swansea City FC to HD and exceeding Premiership standards

Having finished in the top half of the Premiership and qualified for the UEFA Europa league, Swansea City decided it was time to update their media infrastructure in order to give fans, pundits and their analysis team the best possible coverage of each game. Using Blackmagic Design’s production gear, they were able to update their network to HD, increase the number of video feeds they can deal with and how quickly they can be dealt with.

During summer 2013, Swansea City’s senior multimedia officer, Mark Williams, decided to update the AV system at Liberty Stadium. “It’s a relatively young stadium, and at the time there was no idea that we’d have Premiership football straight away, so everything was done in the most economical way possible. This only included provision for analogue systems throughout the stadium, as opposed to the digital we all know today.”

At the end of the 2013 season, Liberty Stadium could only send a single camera feed from their OB facilities to the rest of the stadium, and were struggling to keep up with the Premiership’s requirements.

“When we first came up to the Premiership, there was a requirement for 80 different cable runs between the stadium and the OB compound, whereas at the start of the season there needed to be 240 in place [to cater for more overseas television],” explained Mark. “We wanted to make sure that we took the specification from the Premier League and at very least we matched it. We were hoping to future proof the system for years to come.”

Managing feeds centrally using ATEM Television Studio

As well as increasing the stadium network’s capacity, Mark wanted to improve the efficiency of the media team’s workflow. They decided to centralise their entire system by creating a Fibre bridge between the control room and OB compound using a pair of ATEM Studio Converters and an SDI-to-Fibre converter.

“The ATEM Television Studio has been fantastic,” said Mark. “It gives us the ability to switch the video between different sources, and monitor all the various sources [which is important because] in addition to the video feeds coming in from the game itself, we’ve got cable runs going down to a couple of interview areas – two in the tunnels and one in our press room. So it’s allowed my desk to become a mini television gallery; I can monitor all the feeds, make sure everything is running smoothly and then switch stuff to the live TV in the concourse, or between the various computers that we’ve got in the office to record things.”

Helping analysis teams make the most of every game

Once broadcasters supply the feeds to the control room, Mark and his team use a pair of 16×16 Micro Videohubs to route the signals to over 130 press seats, 54 commentary positions, the team’s analysis department and their commercial arm.

“The strange thing about football analysis is that they need video in order to do their work, but that’s the one thing that they never get taught. We’ve had a lot of interns and new graduates, and they’ve learned a lot about the tactical analysis side of things, but not what they need to do in order to get that video content in the first place. So we worked with the coaches and the analysis department to make sure they get what they need, because regardless of what we do with the press, ultimately it’s what goes on on the pitch that’s key.”

In order to help the analysis team further, Mark’s next job is to move them from their current analogue system to an H.264-based one that allows them to capture HD feeds during international games, where no analogue signal is available.

“We use one of the Blackmagic Design’s H.264 Pro Recorders, and the great thing about them is that you can take any of the various formats that are out there, whether they be HD, SD, analogue, composite, you name it, and convert it into a feed that literally just goes into [any computer] via USB cable, which almost any machine can handle,” explained Mark. “It allows the team to have an entire game in full HD quality in a fairly manageable file size, which they can feed off to the coaching staff, copy to laptops or stick it on hard drives, so when they do their more detailed analysis afterwards, they’ve got the best quality that they can.”

Improving efficiency and speeding up recording workflows

“I realised one of the things we needed to do was make our workflow more efficient,” explained Mark. Because they never know how much time they have between two managers coming in to be interviewed after a game, the media team can’t work on the first interview until the second is complete – “we don’t want to waste time filming and recapturing, so we capture while we’re filming.”

Mark and his team now use Micro Videohubs to direct one interview feed to each of the media department’s Mac Pros, enabling them to record both independently while recording the OB compound’s post-match broadcast to an Atomos Samurai. “We’ve got multiple systems that allow us to keep working rather than sitting and waiting for something to happen. At the last game it went from an hour and 15 minutes from when the interview finished [to us having processed it] to something like 15 minutes.”

Finding an IT provider to help with the transition

“The very first Mac bought by the club was bought from Jigsaw24,” Mark said. “All the analysis software was on PC, but all the editing software was on the Mac, so we needed the flexibility of working between the two [which is only possible on Mac].

“We saw it as a good opportunity to build up a lasting relationship, because not only do Jigsaw24 do Macs, but they also do all the Blackmagic Design kit, they do camera equipment, and it made sense for us all to look for a company that was able to cater for all the various aspects of what we did.

“The sales team have been really helpful, and really patient with me as well, to be totally honest! And I spent hours on the phone with them, because they were our main go-between with Blackmagic Design, and were instrumental in being able to stretch our budget further than it was originally going to go.”

Continuing to move to digital

The system at Liberty Stadium is still evolving, and future developments include plans to add a giant screen to the stadium so that they can stream content to fans mid-game and, behind the scenes, to replace their analogue-to-digital converters with HyperDeck Shuttles, which will allow them to record ProRes straight to SSD.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Thunderbolt vs Thunderbolt 2: ATTO’s comparison guide

Thunderbolt vs Thunderbolt 2: ATTO’s comparison guide

With Mac Pro finally upon us, you might be wondering just how the new Thunderbolt 2 connection stacks up against regular old Thunderbolt. Luckily, ATTO have been experimenting with Thunderbolt 2 and released their findings in a handy document for you.

The first thing to remember, ATTO say in their comparison guide, is that Thunderbolt 2 doesn’t mean 2x the bandwidth of Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt 2 enables two 20Gbps bi‐direction channels instead of four 10Gbps channels, and performance is limited due to protocol, host and bandwidth capability. ATTO’s key findings are as follows:

– 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology‐enabled devices are backwards compatible with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology‐enabled hosts. It works!

– Overall aggregate performance for Thunderbolt 2 is the same as Thunderbolt.

– A single Thunderbolt 2 or multiple DP1.1a connections will support 4K video performance.

– Overall storage throughput still depends on the quantity and types of drives that are connected.

– It’s not practical to daisy chain a 4K monitor and high‐speed storage. Independent connections are required!

You can download ATTO’s guide, ‘What is Thunderbolt 2? How does it compare to Thunderbolt?’ here.

Want to know more about Thunderbolt, ATTO solutions and the new Mac Pro? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Who wants to see a Magma ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt Chassis in action?

Who wants to see a Magma ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt Chassis in action?

Avid created quite a buzz at NAB when they demonstrated Pro Tools HDX running in a Magma Thunderbolt expansion chassis. What was on show was very much a pre-release version of the chassis and a beta version of Pro Tools, but it garnered a lot of interest from those looking to either get a full-power Pro Tools HDX or HD Native system in a portable format, or to opt for an iMac or Mac mini rather than a tower-based system.

In the intervening months we’ve been fielding plenty of questions from excited Pro Tools users. The only information we’ve been able to pass on up to now was that we’d seen the demo version running, and that Avid had confirmed that they will be qualifying the Magma 3T chassis as their approved Thunderbolt solution. (This was always a contingency in the event of Apple’s Mac Pro ceasing to be available, and the relationship between the two companies goes way back to the qualification of the original PCI CardBus chassis.)

Magma 3T expansion chassis

Magma 3T expansion chassis

Finally, however, the Magma 3T is shipping…

Stock is expected imminently and we’ve had a chance to test one of the first units. The Magma ExpressBox 3T, as its name suggests, is a 3-slot expansion chassis for PCIe cards, with two of those slots being x8 and the other x4. The unit is powered via a standard IEC cable and there are internal power cables for cards such as the HDX cards, which require more power.

Getting the unit up and running has been simplicity itself

Simply fit the Pro Tools HDX or HD Native card(s) in the slots as you would in a Mac Pro, connect a Thunderbolt cable between your computer and the chassis, and turn it on. The chassis itself fires up as soon as you turn the computer on, and the latest version of Pro Tools HD (10.2) just sees the cards straight away. There is absolutely no difference in the user experience between this setup and a traditional Mac Pro / Windows workstation.

You do need to have Pro Tools HD 10.2 software in order for this to work, and I need to draw attention to the caveat on Avid’s website – namely the one that states that Thunderbolt chassis are not supported in this release. Avid have confirmed this is because official testing has not yet been completed and there may be some permutation still to be tested before they finally make this a supported solution. In use (and I have been using this setup for a week now and demonstrating it to customers in a variety of scenarios) I haven’t found anything that trips it up, it has been completely solid in performance. As well as running it with an HDX2 system, ours also has a Decklink Intensity card for video playout (click on the gallery link below to take a closer look).

We’re happy to arrange a demonstration for anyone who is interested in seeing the Magma ExpressBox 3T chassis running a full Pro Tools HDX / HD Native system. If you would like a demonstration, please give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com.