Sunday, March 24, 2013

My love letter to the TERMINATOR soundtrack

© Orion Pictures - 1984
If there's one movie that's shaped my early days of cinema, it's James Cameron's "The Terminator."  I could go on and on about how the film is one of the greatest love stories of all time, but I want to give acknowledgement to the beauty of the Brad Fiedel soundtrack.  Before I owned "The Terminator" home video, I had the soundtrack on LP (yes, back in the super fresh 80's).  I listened to the music cues, and played back the different scenes in my head.  Who can forget the main melody from the film, that's repeated in different styles throughout the movie?  Melodramatic, "synthy," and eternally creepy, the music score perfectly complimented the film's sad story of Sarah Connor, and the damned plight of the human race.  But there was also a strength in the sadness, that clearly defined the soul of the human race conflicting with the emotionless machines.  This combination of amazing images, story, and music is what gave the film its staying power.  "The Terminator" was added to the National Film Registry in 2008, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time.  Thanks, Brad Fiedel, and to the work of James Cameron.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First-person POV music video (NSFW)

Action stunts, hot babes, and parkour.  What more do you want in 3 minutes?  This is so hot, I don't know where to begin...
Biting Elbows - 'Bad Motherfucker' (Insane Office Escape 2) from Ilya Naishuller on Vimeo.

Check out this article on the 29-year old director, and his DP/CGI artist buddy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Media Reader Cage Match: Speed Tests With The Qio CF4

Sonnet's Qio CF4 x4 CF Card Reader
Much like you, I'm always trying to improve my post workflow.  I recently upgraded my core system to include the newest Macbook Pro with SSD hard drive, Thunderbolt ports, and USB 3.0.  This system screams with speed.  It only followed that I upgrade my media reader, as well.  But with all this crazy velocity, I needed a reader that could maximize the wide data pipe coming from the new Thunderbolt ports.  I decided to test them all, and went on a media reader hoarding binge, justifying my purchases with the feeling that you can't have too many backups.  I was damn well gonna find the perfect system that fits my semi-pro needs.

First up, was the extremely expensive Sonnet Qio CF4 media reader ($540) with their Thunderbolt adapter ($146).  Add a $50 Thunderbolt cable, and you're looking at close to $736 retail before taxes.  I emphasize that I'm about to shoot a project, so the investment into this type of system is strictly for the pro level shooters out there.  If you want (or need) to offload up to 4 simultaneous CF cards, and time is money to you, then this is a great system for chunky video files.  It's overkill for photos or small video projects.  After downloading the Qio CF4 driver, wrestling with the 90s-style, lunar landing-esque complications of the hookup (reminded me of the SCSI days for you old dogs), and observing the large dent in my wallet, I can't really recommend the Qio.  It's the fastest system I can find, but might be overly complicated for most projects.  You'd probably be better served putting the $750 into your craft service budget.  Your crew will thank you.

The Qio CF4 connects to the Sonnet Thunderbolt Adapter ($146) through the included ExpressCard/34, then slides into the single and sleek Thunderbolt cable to your laptop.  There were no drivers for the adapter, so you simply connect the Qio card to the adapter with a click.  At the time of this writing, this is the only way to read CF cards with a Thunderbolt connection (if you know of another system, please drop a comment).  See below for the results of the Qio tests vs the other USB 3.0 and Firewire800 media readers.

Overall: B+ / The Qio is fast and expensive, but tough to wrangle in the field due to the power needs, and its flimsy ExpressCard/34 connection to the Thunderbolt adapter.  However, the simultaneous downloading of multiple cards is just flat out cool.

Sonnet Dio USB 3.0 media reader
My favorite media reader out of the bunch was the Sonnet Dio USB 3.0 ($46).  It plugs directly into your laptop's USB 3.0 slot, and is backward compatible with older USBs.  It's fast and lightweight, but the outer shell might not be as durable as I need for travel or field work.

Overall: A- / Affordable & fast

Lexar Pro USB 3.0 media reader

A close second to the Sonnet Dio was the Lexar Pro USB 3.0 media reader ($35).  It was comparable in speed to the Dio, very lightweight, and $10 dollars cheaper.  It's got a clever spring latch that will close for travel, keeping dust and debris out of the inputs.

Overall: A- / More affordable than Dio, fast, and cool design.

Apple Firewire800 to Thunderbolt Adapter
I can't say enough good things about Apple's $29 Thunderbolt adapter for my Firewire800 drive, and one for my Firewire800 media reader (already owned).  This system was not quite as fast, but still damn fast enough for most of my needs.  It's very simple, and you won't need to replace your current reader.  It all depends on what you're looking to do.  See the results below for how well this system did against the others.


12 video files
1.5 GB/each est or 5 min length 
17.55 GB

OS 10.8.3
2.8 GHz Intel Core i7


3 minutes 30 seconds (400x card)
3 minutes 16 seconds (667x card)
2 minutes 27 seconds (1000x card)

3 minutes 31 seconds (400x card)
2 minutes 28 seconds (1000x card)

To FW800 with Thunderbolt adapter on LaCie 1 TB Rugged drive:
3 minutes 39 seconds (400x card)
3 minutes 37 seconds (1000x card*)
*Not much of a speed difference with this card config.


to SSD Thunderbolt drive:
4 minutes 1 second (400x card)
2 minutes 23 seconds (1000x card)

To LaCie 6TB HD Thunderbolt drive:
4 minutes 2 seconds (400x card)
2 minutes 24 seconds (1000x card)

To FW800 with Thunderbolt adapter on LaCie 1 TB Rugged:
4 minutes 7 seconds (400x card)
3 minutes 35 seconds (1000x card)

FW800 media reader with Thunderbolt adapter

to SSD Thunderbolt drive:
5 minutes 2 seconds (400x card)
3 minutes 25 seconds (1000x card)

to LaCie 6TB HD Thunderbolt drive:
5 minutes 3 seconds (400x card)
3 minutes 26 seconds (1000x card)

to FW800 with Thunderbolt adapter on LaCie 1 TB Rugged:
5 minutes 8 seconds (400x card)
3 minutes 39 seconds (1000x card)

I ran a test on my older Macbook Pro system.

17" Macbook Pro (2007)
OS 10.6.8
2.6 GHz Intel Core Duo

12 video files
1.5 GB/each est or 5 min length 
17.55 GB

CF Card: SanDisk 32 GB 400x (60 MB/s)

Sonnet Qio CF4 with ExpressCard/34 port to FW800 1 TB LaCie Rugged HD drive
3 minutes 40 seconds

Sonnet Dio USB 3.0 media reader with Oyen Digital ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 slot to FW800 1 TB LaCie Rugged HD drive
4 minutes 20 seconds

FW800 media reader to LaCie 1 TB Rugged HD Drive
6 minutes 57 seconds

Sonnet Dio USB 3.0 > USB 2.0 media reader to FW800 1 TB LaCie Rugged HD drive
10 minutes 43 seconds

OVERALL: I found it interesting that the speed of my computer, or speed of the disk drive, didn't seem to make much of a difference (maybe a 10 second difference between my 2013 and 2007 Macbook Pros).  The speed of the card, the media reader itself, and the speed of the data port (e.g. Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0) were the determining factors.  The Qio CF4 was definitely the quickest way to offload chunky data files, but its price point, power needs, and bulk will keep me from grabbing it for road work.  If I'm shooting in the field, and need a quick and reliable method, I'm bringing the self-powered Sonnet "Ronnie James" Dio (yes, DiO) or Lexar Pro for USB 3.0.  Of course, the Thunderbolt adapters are the smallest and most affordable option, but you add a few more seconds with the transfer.  I'm very interested in the new NEXTO DI video storage devices (as seen on, but the price point keeps me at bay ($2600).  As always, it's up to you.

Saturday, March 2, 2013