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In our latest video we talk about our experience with the Metabones CINE Smart Adapter, which iterates over the T Smart adapter with a locking ring.

We found that the adapter was useful when used in situations without rails and lens support, providing a nice solid lock and eliminating some adapter shake when focusing.  But we think it can lead to difficult situations if not used with an assistant or a firm tripod, as the locking ring can be super difficult to use.  But if you had lens support on rails, you don't really need the CINE Smart Adapter.

We'd like to see a locking adapter that worked like RED's locking EF.  First creating a positive connection, then lock, instead of doing both in one step.  But for now, this will be very useful for slim camera builds working with one variable zoom in documentary and wedding scenarios.

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PIGSquad Patreon Pitch Video

Last week we had the pleasure of assisting PIGSquad with creating their Patreon Pitch video, using some freshly shot footage and some b-roll from the amazing Cartoon Network Game Jam!

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MAKING A DECKLINK EXTREME 4K INTO A THUNDERBOLT DEVICE

I’ve been eyeballing the Ultrastudio 4K for my color rig for a while not.  It’s nice because it has thunderbolt, so I can use it on set or in the studio, and it has 4K which I’m starting to see more and more around town.  What’s not nice is that it has terribly loud fans, if product reviews are to be believed.

This week a 4K project fell in my lap, so it was time to stop eyeballing and pull the trigger.  I decided to go with the Decklink 4K Extreme.  It offered everything I needed for a UHD output, and it gave dual 3gbps, which my FSI monitor could use to display a 4K image on a 1080 screen.

I wanted to make this an external thunderbolt card, but all of the single card thunderbolt expansion bays I could find had only single slots on the back, which is no good for the 4K Extreme’s daughter card housing the UHD HDMI ports.  After a lot of searching I finally found Akito Thunder2 PCIe Box.  Not only was it the cheapest single slot expansion box, it was the only single slot that offered a second port.  The only downside is that it was rated for 4x PCIe, where the more expensive boxes could output 8x.

When I got my Decklink and the Thunder2, I was dismayed to find that the cables Blackmagic shipped with the decklink were so thick that I felt like I would damage the main board if I were to bend them in a way to connect the daughter board to the main board.  The solution ended up being 2x 270 degree HDMI connecters.  Chaining them together allowed the cables to connect in a tension-less way.

I have to say, I’m really happy with this build.  It’s more powerful than an Ultrastudio 4K, cost around the same amount, it’s quieter, and it sits on a desktop with ease.

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ALL THE WILDERNESS

The second movie I’ve worked on is finally out!  Truly a life changing experience for me, I was really excited to see all of the pieces put together.

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Fusion and Mocha Pro

I've been trying to make the jump from a layer based compositor, After Effects, to a node based compositor, BMD Fusion.  So far it hasn't been easy, I've been running up against a lot of basic issues like "How do I move something?"

One issue that really drove me crazy was Fusion's built in tracker.  It's confusing, and it's crappy.  I just don't like.  I was happy to find out that Mocha Pro integrates with Fusion very well, so I don't have to use their crappy tracking system.  I can use the system I know and love.

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Eyeon Fusion's Animated Masks

I've been really interested in Eyenon fusion since Blackmagic purchased the software and made it available for free.  I'm a bit of a Blackmagic fan boy, and I'm finding the power that Fusion contains to be very intriguing.  Oh yea, it's free too. 

Here is a video tutorial of Eyeon's masking, something that's missing from Blackmagic's official tutorials. Coming from the After Effects camp, this is the first thing I want to understand about Fusion. 

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Get SASsy with me.

I'm extremely excited, for some very nerdy reasons.  I've been modding one of my hackintoshes over the past couple weeks to create my vision of a perfect DIT computer.  A part of that vision is hardware controlled RAID.

Doing some research, I found that the HighPoint RocketRaid 2720sgl was compatible with hackintosh systems.  It has two miniSAS ports and only cost $150, which is an incredible deal in the world of RAID cards.  The downsides to it - transfer speeds up to only 450mb/s, not a full RAID on a chip.  The two miniSAS ports can be adapted to eight sata ports.

I installed with 4 internally mounted 3tb drives and 2 500gb drives I had laying around the house.  That leaves two sata ports for a future hot spare and another drive.  I configured the 4x3tb into a RAID5 giving 9tb of usable space.  The 2x500 I put into a stripe config as a scratch disk, nothing valuable gets written to it.

On first boot, it was recognized immediately.  I installed the web drivers for the another 2700 series rocketraid card that was mac compatible, and it was able to communicate and see the 2720 just fine.  This gave me the ability to monitor the RAID from the OS, and set up things like email alerts when there are errors.  I also disabled the speaker on the card, if you've ever heard a rocketraid alarm go off, it sounds horrible and frightening.

I did find a caveat to the card.  When creating the RAID5 set in bios, or in the webui, you only get the option to "Initialize in background."  This is very very slow.  It took my computer 48hrs to fully initialize, leaving me unable to use the 9tb for two full days.  I learned later if you initialize in Windows, you can cut that time down to 3hrs.

Another oddity is when first attempting to format in Disk Utility I received an error about a misconfiguration.  It took me a while to figure out, but Disk Utility was defaulting to MBR, and MBR is an invalid selection for the RAID (no idea why).  Changing it to GUID and formatting it fixed the issue.

I fired up my handy Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, and was very pleased with the results.  400mb/s read and 425mb/s write was more than enough for me, competing with the 

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I think the best comparison for what I've built here is the thunderbolt connected Pegasus R4.  It costs $999, and gives you 6tb useable.  It also achieves a higher write (500mb/s) speed and a lower read speed (350mb/s) and can be used with a laptop.  All in all, mine cost $650, has room for a hot spare, has 9tb of useable data, and can be expanded.

I'm not saying ones better than the other, but it is nice that I was able to build comparable performance for 2/3 the cost. 

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The Magic Rsync Recipe

If you know me, you know I'm a huge fan of the program Rsync.  It's fast, it's reliable, it's installed by default on every Mac and Linux machine, and it offers a wealth of options, and it's free!  What's not to like? 

A while ago Dusty McCord and I got together to talk about what the perfect settings for rsync would be. We evaluated the needs of on set data management, and what is most important to a DIT.  We came up with this quick list of what we needed:  file integrity must be preserved, all files hidden or not must be copied, preserve the original time stamp, files must be checksummed to ensure playback, we need to see the progress.

With those options in mind, this is the magic recipe we came up with: 

rsync -rltWDcv --progress

It looks prety confusing doesn't it?  It's pretty simple when you know the parts.  The first parts, rsync, just tells the computer to use the rsync command.  The following arguments -rltWDcv are options for the rsync command (full details on thersync man page), and --progress indicates that we, the user, would like to see the progress of the file transfer.  It doesn't show a progress bar, but it does tell you how many files its checked and how many are left.

Let's break down the arguments:

r     recursive, copy's the files of the source directory and the sub directories
l     copy symlinks, normally we would not encounter these, but there's always a possiblity
t     copy time, this copies the timestamp of the original file
W    whole file, this copies the whole file instead of just the bytes that are different
D    devices, another item we shouldn't encounter, but just in case...
c     checksum, this is the most secure method of comparing two files, read more here.
v     verbose, displays a log of each file transaction, that way it's easy to spot if something went wrong

There we go.  Using free and open source tools we have crafted a command that is extremely reliable, which on set is extremely valuable.  If this article is too complicated for you, and you need to understand the usage of Rsync, take a look at this primer on how to use Rsync.

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