I asked my friends and colleagues at the Washington, DC area Women in Film and Video (WIFV) if it was time for me, as an independent and freelance producer, to buy my own hard drive. The resounding answer was “yes.”
Some people, like Stephanie Foerster Owner of StepFilms, says the question takes some consideration. “If you are responsible for the footage upon conclusion of the shoot, then yes, a hard drive is a great investment. That said, if you are simply handing over the footage for post, I think it’s fair to request the client to provide their own drive before the shoot.”
There are a lot of hard drives out there and not all of them will work for every situation. For instance, are you looking for a hard drive to simply store and transport footage? If so, a small drive will work. The most popular compact drive suggestion I got was for the 350gb LaCie. I’m using this drive now (in fact it is packed up ready for my shoot today) and it seems both rugged and easy to use. It doesn’t need a power cord because it runs off of the firewire cable. It costs about $100. For Mac users, My Passport Studio has been recommended because it is small and very affordable. Another recommendation is the $90 Smartdisk FireLite which holds about 80GB and fits in the palm of your hand.
But as Roland Hudson of Flipbook Productions points out, you will need something bigger and faster if you plan to edit from the drive. Anything less than 1TB can make moving media on and off of the drive painstakingly slow. The G-Raid mini, another highly recommended drive based on responses, runs about $300.
Bonnie Green, a Digital Assets Manager, warns not to store too much on one drive. “I usually advocate digitizing your assets into a searchable database, then archiving physical assets in off-site storage. Never keep the two in the same location. Use the “what if” scenario in laying out your plan. Also, using one hard drive for multiple clients may not be wise, as it only takes one corrupted file to ruin to the soup. Then, you’ve just screwed up your other clients’ stuff and made yourself look like a novice.”
The crowd was split on how “consumer” to go with these drives. Some felt that standard drives found at Best Buy to provide storage for a home computer wouldn’t suffice. Others were excited about cheap and cheerful drives that could be bought for under 100-bucks. Personally, I feel that is it worth a little extra to safeguard a client’s footage.
And last but not least, back up your footage! Some producers use their drives as backups. Others store the footage on their computer. It doesn’t really matter where you keep it just as long as you can get to that backed-up footage if needed.