Totally Portable – Not!

I’m about to start a mix and I thought that it would be nice to have my whole show available on a laptop while we worked. This can be helpful in a pinch, and I figured it would be easy to arrange. Four hours of frustration later, I’m not so sure.

We have about 7,000 OMF media files taking up about 200 gigs of space and living on six Unity partitions. Each partition has a separate media folder, and each one contains two “msm” files, which constitute an index of what’s on the drive. The MC needs those files, and if they’re not there, it will create them.

My task was to move all that of our media into a single folder on a firewire drive and open that up with the laptop system. The folder would be re-indexed and all would be well.

Trouble is, MC-software won’t index that media folder. Roughly half way through the initial scan it consistently crashes. That seemed awfully strange to me, so I tried using our main Adrenaline machine to create the index (taking Unity offline, connecting the firewire drive and starting up the MC). That worked fine. So I figured I had a good index and could now open the firewire drive on the laptop. Nope — even with a good index, the laptop wants to scan the drive — and crashes halfway through.

There are differences between the desktop and laptop systems: one is a quad-G5 tower with four gigs of RAM, the other, and core duo Mac Pro with 2 gigs. I’ve never known one to be allergic to drives indexed with the other, but you never know.

So I created a much smaller media files folder with just a couple of hundred clips — the laptop was able to index that just fine. And I was able to add media files to that folder successfully — but only until I got to around 3,000 files, at which point the laptop would crash halfway through the scan — leaving behind a corrupted index.

After four hours trying all of the above and everything else I and our rental house could think of, I gave up.

Maybe a system with 2 gigs of RAM can’t read a big index. Maybe an Intel system can’t read a big index. Maybe an Intel system can’t read an index created on a G5. But one way or the other, I can’t take my show on the road.

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6 Comments on “Totally Portable – Not!”

  1. cogito Says:

    Maybe this is a problem that only occurs with OMF media and not MXF. I currently have two terrabytes of DNx36 media on firewire drives on a MacBook Pro Media Composer. I’m adding media everyday and rescanning the entire drives every now and then with out a problem.

    Actually my video is MXF, but the audio is still OMF

  2. Brad Says:

    I’m still working on Meridian systems so my MC is a little older, but did you try using the Consolidate function inside MC? That will copy the media and create an index.

  3. Mark Burton Says:

    Or just partition the firewire drive into 4 or 5 partitions and run it like a set of drives. This way you are not reaching the limit on number of files per folder.

    I have had this issue before too – I found that my PC Avid would index the drives fine, but connect them to my Mac and it always crashed. Splitting the files onto separate partitions solved that.

    Alternatively, if you just want the media in your edit with some handles, export OMF 2.0 with consolidate set to put media onto the Firewire drive. Trash the exported OMF file and just take the copy of the sequence it creates.

  4. Steve Says:

    Thanks for the help guys — but the point remains that the value of a portable system is seriously reduced if I can’t get the media on a drive without partitioning it. Assuming that the problem is RAM related, most laptop systems either can’t or don’t have 4 gigs installed. Consolidating is a good suggestion, but it would still produce a lot of media files, and what I wanted was everything — outtakes, too. Also, remember that even if I created a good index on the firewire drive with the Adrenaline system, the laptop wouldn’t recognize it.

  5. Brett Kosmider Says:

    I know this is probably too late for your problem, but I know your problem well. There’s two things going on here – for OMFI media Avid recommends having drive partitions no larger than 200GB. The other issue related to this is Avid will actually create video render files that it can’t quarantine! Go figure! I’ve discovered that when rebuilding databases MC will cack on video renders. Audio is OK and master clips are OK, but only (some) video renders make it crash. Video renders are pretty easy to find in the OMFI folder, the filename starts with the sequence name, then a comma, then the name of the effect rendered, like Title, Motion, BCC, Matte etc. I delete those files in some logical order, usually a few at a time. I might go by date and delete the most recent first. After deleting a few I always pop back into Media Composer and it will spontaneously rebuild the database. If it crashes I know I haven’t found my bad render file(s) yet. After doing this so many times (from way back in Adrenaline v1) I decided to make a separate render drive, and when I have issues I just delete all the media from that drive, re-render the sequence I’m working on and away I go.

  6. Steve Says:

    Yea, unfortunately it’s too late, but this is a very good suggestion for the future. Thanks! If indeed that was the problem then it’s about time htat Avid fix it, too…

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