Meanwhile, back at the treehouse, I still keep getting involved with movies that
don't quite make it to the point of actually shooting. On the minus side,
it often seems to take just as much money *not* to make a movie this way as it
would to have made one. On the plus side, none of this has been my money and,
on the plusser side, the projects this summer were able to haul off a large portion
of the more than four tons of movie props that got left here after last year's crop
But with the American Film Market rapidly approaching and I know I'm going to have
a decent slate of completed films to touch up and get ready for prime time, I thought
I'd sneak in a couple of desktop upgrades before crunch time sets in.
Roo, my main video editing machine, has now made the jump to "mark IV." I've had
two main computers at my desk for quite a few years now, Kanga and Roo. Roo does
video and audio, Kanga does everything else. That's a halfway-reasonable way to have things
set up because video work is so demanding and so intolerant of anything else going on
that might cause it to skip a frame while capturing or outputting video.
software also tends to be written assuming that it's the only software you'll ever have installed or
running on your computer. That's pretty much like every other piece of software on the planet--but
unlike every other piece of software on the planet, in the case of video and audio editing
software, there's actually some excuse for it.
The very first Roo ran on one of the early Slot-A AMD Athlon CPUs. Video editing alone
really required two computers back then because half the software (and hardware) I used
would only run with Windows NT and the other half would only run with Windows 98 (and
Windows 98 wouldn't--and still doesn't--handle the large files normally encountered when
editing video of any reasonable length). So "Kanga" was set up with
NT Server 4 on a pair of Slot-1 Pentium III CPUs and "Roo" had the single, marginally faster
AMD Athlon (since Windows 98 wouldn't support multiple CPUs either).
When Windows 2000 was released, it was possible to do nearly all the video editing tasks on
one computer and run both of my desktop machines under the same OS. Roo Mark II was
built around the original Tyan Tiger MP (S2460)
dual Athlon board with a couple of Athlon MP 1400 CPUs. Not a quiet machine at all, since
that was cooled with a pair of Thermaltake Volcano CPU coolers which were nearly as cool
and quiet as their name suggests.
I replaced that with Roo Mark III which featured a water-cooled
sporting a pair of 2.66GHz P4-based Xeons and a
Broadcom RAIDCore BC4852
PCI-X RAID controller running eight 250GB hard drives for the video array. That was about twice the
machine as Roo Mark II, and, while not quiet by any means, it was quite a bit quieter than its
For the new Roo, I went with the
ASUS P5WDG2 WS Pro
which as two PCI-X slots so I could keep using the aforementioned RAIDCore controller and the
PCI-X Blackmagic HD-SDI board in Roo III.
However, after a lot of experimentation, I ended up
using the x8 PCIe
Dell Perc5/i SAS RAID controller
primarily because they're dirt cheap (at least if you're buying a *lot* of dirt) so I could have
plenty of spares.
I like spares. Having spares makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like
an old fridge you'd unplugged last year and left untouched in the garage over the summer.
Along with an unlocked engineering sample quad-core q6700, four gigs of PC2-6400
memory from OCZ, nine Seagate 500GB 7200.10 drives, and a PNY Quadro 1500 graphics
card, we were ready to go. I decided to use a
Coolermaster CM Stacker 830 case,
Scythe Infinity 5 Heat Pipe CPU Cooler, and a
Corsair 57228 520W HX Series ATX Power Supply.
As much as I would have liked to build a truly silent video editing machine, I didn't
think that was realistic with this year's (affordable) technology, so rather than going
for a case like the
which takes the approach of putting everything in a sealed, insulated enclosure, the
CM Stacker 830 takes the approach of leaving everything as open as possible and
surrounding it with nearly as many 120mm fans as you can possibly imagine--nine, easily, not
counting whatever is on the CPU cooler.
Overall, I was impressed with the CM Stacker's construction quality, but its
screw-free snap-together design makes it uncomfortably prone to rattling, so for a
while I'd be sitting there working on it as a rattling noise would slowly appear and
start growing until I went over to the other side of the desk where I have the machine
and pushed it around a little on the floor until it shifted in whatever way was necessary
to make the rattling stop. Apart from that, it's about as quiet as a half-dozen 120mm
fans set to low speed can be, which is a major improvement over Roo Mark III and,
again, about twice the machine in terms of speed and storage.
So far the new Roo is doing its job without glitch or complaint. Somehow, the results
of these upgrades are never quite as spectacular as I might have hoped, but at least they
do work--and at least having four terabytes of drive space to work with (minus a bit for overhead)
means I'm not spending nearly as much time as I had been trying to find old files to clear off to
make room for the new files I need to create.
...at least for the next month or two.