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Improving Workflow: LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 External Storage Device Review

The LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 saves you valuable time

The script and shoot is approved, the date sorted, team assembled, talent and location organised.

You head out the door on the way to the job and you have your camera, your tripod, your lights, stands, monitor, lenses, filters, matt box, batteries, power leads, chargers, audio, laptop, tablet, slider, gimbal, catering, more than enough storage cards for the shoot, and redundant backups of the important production gear.

Right?

Are you sure you have ticked all the boxes? Maybe you haven’t though!

Have you stopped to think about storage? Have you considered your workflow needs at all?

Do you have the best workflow in place for your 4K and beyond filmmaking circumstances?

Now the storage I’m talking about is not the cards and disks for the camera or recording devices on you for the shoot. I’m talking about when you get back to base and you need to ingest / offload the footage. Your rushes you need to work with on a computer, in the edit suite or post production environment.

Hands up if hard drive storage is one of the last things on your mind when you are getting ready for a film shoot?

It should be the first thing on your mind, but if you are like me then the only time you ever think about hard drives is when you hit return on the keyboard to confirm transfer / copy and you get attitude from an external hard drive saying it will take approximately 36 days and 21 minutes to bring over 247GB of footage.

Hands up if you use multiple single hard drives, or JBOD’s to dump your footage to?

Look over at me and I have two hands waving back at you. I’m guilty of having multiple different external hard drives hooked up to my Mac that I yell at every time I need footage to be copied or worked on. My desk is a singles bar for hard drives to mingle.

Well that was the case, the old way, the slow wasteful time consuming way to ingest and edit and output footage.

Enter stage right the LaCie 36TB 6big Thunderbolt 3 external storage device.

I looked at my projects and realised that time wasted ingesting and accessing footage on and to hard drives has been killing productivity. Too much time has been sucked into waiting for slow old inefficient USB HDD’s to do what they do.

The more 4K projects I do the less time it seems I have to do anything else.

With a new job looming that requires tons and tons of filming, I needed to address my bandwidth hungry storage workflow shortfall.

Looking at ways to streamline and speed up my workflow, it was a no brainer to incorporate a storage device like the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive system.

I should have had a LaCie big solution in place ages ago.

There are four versions of the Neil Poulton designed 6big, the 24TB, 36TB, 48TB, and 60TB. Plus there is a bigger member to the LaCie big family in the 12big system, which comes in four versions: the 48TB, 72TB, 96TB and 120TB storage capacity sizes.

I went with the 6big 6-bay hot swappable disc desktop raid storage as it fits my immediate needs as well as allowing for my edit suite to scale up if need be. I can ingest, edit, and output with ease, and if needed can daisy chain dual 4K displays or a single 5K display, or power certain laptops through the Thunderbolt 3 connection. It is also possible to hook up to six devices to a computer via a single cable.

I’m currently still rocking Mac products from 2014, and they are still providing a great service, however they have Thunderbolt 2 incorporated into them. The 6big has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities allowing for speeds of up to 1400MB/s on workflow tasks. Although that’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 3.
No dramas with an older Mac system as an Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adaptor was bought and helps keep speeds higher compared to the old USB to USB transfers.

The LaCie 36TB 6big allows for my edit workstation to pivot from it and take advantage of Thunderbolt 3 speeds going forward when the need arises for a newer Mac or Windows computer to join the edit suite family fully equipped with Thunderbolt 3 technology.

There are 6 front accessible Seagate IronWolf Pro NAS drives in the 6big tower, each with 256MB cache and 7200RPM for super fast accessibility, reliability and vigorous performance.

While there are 6 disks in total, the 6big only takes a small amount of space next to my iMac. It must be noted the 12big may not suit a desktop surface because of its weight. The 6big weighs around 10kgs and the 12big about 17kgs.

A raid array 5 is what the 6big tower comes preconfigured with straight out of the box. However you can set the LaCie 6big up as either a raid array O, 1, 5, 6, 10, or raid array 50 if you needed to.

I played around with a few array configurations, and for now will choose to leave the HDD’s set as a raid 5 array taking advantage of parity with a one disc redundancy.

Performing some tests sending a video file recorded from an Atomos Ninja 2 monitor recorder hard drive to the iMac desktop, from USB hard drive to USB hard drive via the iMac, hard drive with USB 3 to hard drive with USB 3 via the iMac, and lastly from an external HDD to the 6big. I then ran directly off the Ninja 2 monitor recorder HDD to the iMac, and then the Ninja 2 HDD though to the LacIe 6big via the iMac.

What the tests have revealed is that the new desktop LaCie 6big setup with Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adaptor sending footage to the 6big is now saving me on tasks an average of around 3/4 what it has been taking.

I’m doing tasks in a quarter of the time it was talking with standard hard drives with USB connections.

Bring on a new computer with Thunderbolt 3 capabilities and unleash the true 1400MB/s time saving speed!!!

The 6big does cost a bit of scratch, but it is fair to say the 6big saves me time, lots of time. Not just minutes but hours when it comes to ingesting and working with footage now and with an upgrade to a Thunderbolt 3 capable computer in the near future, the system will look after me for many a year to come.

See LaCie for more on the 6big and 12big systems.

Here are the test results for some of the tests:

External HDD to iMac Desktop

External HDD to LaCie 6big

External HDD to External HDD

HDD to portable HDD

Atomos Ninja 2 HDD to LaCie 6big

Atomos Ninja 2 to External HDD

While the LaCie 6big 36TB external storage solution suits my workflow needs, you may find other versions from the LaCie big family are better suited to yours.

Here is the official LaCie press release for the 6big and 12big storage solutions:

LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX), announced its Thunderbolt™ 3 portfolio of storage solutions aimed at helping video professionals excel with ultra high-resolution footage. First, the LaCie® Bolt3 combines Thunderbolt 3 speed with the latest M.2 PCIe SSDs to create the world’s fastest desktop drive. In addition, the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 and 6big Thunderbolt 3 are ready to handle massive amounts of content thanks to fast transfer speeds, RAID 5/6 security and enterprise-class drives. These storage solutions, design by Neil Poulton, are ideal companions to the all-new MacBook Pro.

For the Bolt3, LaCie harnessed the breakthrough performance potential of Thunderbolt 3 and paired it with two M.2 PCIe SSDs striped into a 2TB volume. Bolt3 delivers record speeds of up to 2800MB/s and cuts valuable time off of post-production workflows, such as ingesting RAW footage from RED® or Blackmagic® cinema cameras or transcoding 4/5/6K footage using Adobe® Premiere® Pro or DaVinci Resolve. What’s more, videographers can transfer a terabyte of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage from the LaCie Bolt3 to RAID storage—such as the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3—in only 5 minutes and 11 seconds*.

The LaCie Bolt3 is engineered for long term reliability—from the enclosure to the internal components—to endure intensive storage tasks. Each product is individually Computer Numerical Control machined from solid aluminum blocks for rigid durability and heat dissipation. Effective cooling helps to ensure long-term component health. The stand securely docks the product with powerful neodymium magnets—and detaches for easy transport.

With up to 120TB of massive capacity, the breakthrough performance of Thunderbolt 3 and RAID 5/6, the LaCie 12big, and the new LaCie 6big help video professionals meet the data demands of 4/5/6K cameras. Both feature Seagate enterprise-class drives with 256MB cache and 7200RPM for superb accessibility, reliability and robust performance.

LaCie big Family

“From ultra high-resolution cameras to virtual reality to drones, the new experiences that content creators can bring to life are truly exciting,” said Tim Bucher, Senior Vice President of Seagate and LaCie Branded Solutions. “Creating these experiences generates unprecedented amounts of data while requiring extreme performance, and today we’re thrilled to help our customers by offering best-in-class storage solutions that excel in even the most demanding video workflows.”

Thunderbolt 3 speeds of up to 2600MB/s for LaCie 12big and 1400MB/s for LaCie 6big slash time off nearly every post-production workflow task. Users can then edit multiple streams of ProRes 422 (HQ), ProRes 4444 XQ, as well as uncompressed HD 10-bit and 12-bit video. What’s more, photographers can transfer RAW photos quickly and edit in Adobe Lightroom without lag. Plus, with up to 120TB of capacity, the LaCie 12big can store 100 hours of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage in RAID 5*.

With double the video bandwidth of its predecessor, Thunderbolt 3 lets a user daisy chain dual 4K displays or a single 5K display to the LaCie 12big or LaCie 6big. With two 4K displays, users can spread out their workspace by dedicating one display to the timeline and the other to previewing 4K footage, for example. It’s even possible to power a compatible laptop through the USB-C cable**. Additionally, the user can connect to USB 3.0 computers via the included USB-C to USB-A cable.

The LaCie 12big and LaCie 6big are engineered to handle demanding video workflows. Front-accessible drives offer convenient and quick drive replacement and front-facing drive status LEDs help the user keep track of drive health and RAID build status. The aluminum enclosure dissipates heat far better than plastic, while two thermoregulated fans pull heat away from internal components. Both the LaCie 12big and LaCie 6big are protected by a five-year limited warranty that covers drives, enclosure and spare parts.

LaCie has also partnered with Pelican Products to offer custom cases to safely transport the LaCie 12big or 6big to and from set. The Pelican™ Storm Case™ is an injection-molded case made of HPX® high-performance resin that is virtually unbreakable and resistant to dents and shatter. The custom, durable foam configuration houses a LaCie 12big or 6big, multiple LaCie Rugged® drives and accessories such as cords or a power supply. The cases are lightweight, airtight, watertight and backed by Pelican’s lifetime warranty***.

AVAILABILITY
The LaCie Bolt3 will come in a 2TB SSD capacity for $1999.00. The LaCie 6big will come in 24TB, 36TB, 48TB and 60TB capacities starting at $3199.00. The LaCie 12big will come in 48TB, 72TB, 96TB and 120TB capacities starting at $6399.00. The custom Pelican Storm cases start at $349.00. All LaCie Thunderbolt 3 solutions and the custom Pelican Storm cases will be available at LaCie resellers this quarter.

About LaCie
LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology, designs world-class external storage products for Apple and PC users. LaCie differentiates itself with sleek design and unmatched technical performance. Find out more at www.lacie.com.

* Based on 764GB per hour of 4K GoPro footage (source) and 764GB per hour of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage (source). Quantitative usage examples for various applications are for illustrative purposes.

** Delivers up to 15W to power compatible laptops.

*** See pelican.com/warranty for full details.

The LaCie 6big 36TB system suits my workflow requirements. While this has been an assessment of how the 6big can speed up my workflow and make it more efficient; you are encouraged to please conduct your own tests to see if the LaCie products suit your particular needs.

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