Tech Tip -- 11/21/12


As we are all aware, more and more of media production is being digitized.  It started back in the mid 90s with digital Non-Linear editing systems like Avid and Media 100.  Shortly after digital, film-less, photography became the norm, now we are entering the digital tape-less video recording era.  Through all of this computers and Hard Drives, particularly portable, external drives, have become a necessary tool in any media-maker's tool bag.  We use them for editing, archive storage, transportation and more and with the variety of computers an operating systems, trying to find the right format (or language) for the hard drives could at times be headaches.  A relatively new development in Hard Drive formats is going to make things a lot easier.  But first some background...

Most people who have been working with external hard drives for whatever reason is already familiar with the fact that for most uses - hard drives are formatted for a particular operating system (Mac or PC) and can't be used "cross-platform". 

Mac hard drives use a format called, fittingly, "Mac OS Extended".  Drives formatted in this format can only be used on Mac computers.  By default, drives purchased for the use on a Mac (ie: at the apple store, or even directly from manufactures who cater to Mac users, ie: Lacie) this is how they are formatted.

PCs primarily used a file format called "NTFS".  This format, while primarily used on PCs can be READ, but not WRITTEN to by MACs.

Until recently there was one format that was widely used that could be Read and written to by both platforms and was (and still is) the format of choice for devices like USB thumb-drives and the SD cards in our camcorders...This format is know as "FAT32".  The biggest drawback to FAT32 is that no one file can be bigger than 2GB.  Hence the clipping we see on our SD cards from our tapeless cameras.  (See Related Tech Tip)

Now a new format, know as "ExFAT", has been developed which is cross-platform like FAT32, but has removed the 2GB file size limit.  This is great because you can now use one external drive on any computer.  This means you can started editing your project on the Mac at the Media Center, then take your drive home to continue editing in Premier on your home PC.  Another benefit to ExFAT comes with the process of "recombining clips" from the cameras (or now the remote studio as well).  Now you can connect your ExFAT formatted editing drive to the PC in the greenroom and recombine your clips directly to your edit need to wait for the long process to transfer files over our computer network.

I am in the process of reformatting all of BMC owned edit drives to ExFAT as they become available and all new drives will be formatted this way from the beginning.  If you would like help reformatting your own drives to this format, come see me for help.