OT: USB drive ok to use for editing?

Cliff Etzel wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:24 PM
One of the things my laptop didn't come with was a built in esata or firewire port, so I need to use an adaptec PCMCIA 2 port firewire card for ingesting footage on my laptop.

What I want to know is if I use an external USB drive, can I edit content on that drive without any issues? I was thinking of using an external 7200RPM USB drive - will that make a difference editing HDV with Vegas Pro 8? I'm not doing any hardcore special effects or multiple streams - typically 1-2 video tracks maybe 3 and audio with cuts, dissolves and color correcting.

Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist
bluprojekt | solo video journalism blog


Chienworks wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:26 PM
Have you tried it? If not, why not? Seems like it would be very simple to try a little project and see what happens.

USB2 ought to be fast enough for several streams of video simultaneously. Firewire would be better.
tcbetka wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:29 PM
I wouldn't see why there would be a problem--when you're editing, you are only working with pointers to the media, and not the actual media. That's why it's a "non-destructive" editor. So your data is on an external (USB) hard drive, and you load up the project, import your media, apply your effects (etc) and then render the project. Up until the final step, aren't you just working with pointers?

So while I've never tried this myself, my understanding is that it wouldn't make that much difference. But I certainly may be wrong, so I'd like to hear what others have to say.

Cliff Etzel wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:31 PM
I've tried attaching my external firewire drive to the card for capture and it fails on capture to the drive every time hence my question about USB. I think it has to do with conflict of resources for the PCMCIA bus.

Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist
bluprojekt | solo video journalism blog
tcbetka wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:33 PM
What do you mean it "fails to capture" Cliff? Do you mean Vegas fails to find the drive? Or are you actually trying to capture something on the external drive?

Sorry...didn't understand what you said.

Cliff Etzel wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:35 PM
The capture actually fails - the drive is seen but frames begin to drop almost immediately. Tried this with Vegas pro, HDVSplit and Premiere pro - all with same results.

Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist
bluprojekt | solo video journalism blog
tcbetka wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:38 PM
Ah... Interesting.

I have been wondering about actually going the *other* way--using a laptop with an external hard drive alright, but actually capturing HDV to it from the camera, via the Vegas capture utility. But now that you've said you're getting dropped frames right away, maybe it wouldn't even write to the disk well and the media would be corrupt when I finished recording.


EDIT: I have everything I need to test this here at home--a laptop, a firewire HD, a camera and of course...Vegas. Sounds like a good project for the weekend. It's supposed to snow here in Green Bay anyway!

musicvid10 wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:48 PM
I have had lousy luck trying to capture or render to a USB drive, have tried a couple. All kinds of errors, freezes, corrupt files, reboots.

On the other hand, using one of those drive's Firewire connection has enabled me to capture, edit, render, and burn good DL DVD disks on my laptop.

Night and Day, IMO.
RNLVideo wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:49 PM
I capture and edit from bus-powered USB drives all the time. I'm not doing any HDV, but it's become routine for me to capture 1+ hour of event video to a USB drive and edit it. I normally render to another drive, but occasionally have had to render back to the same drive I've captured on and it works. Not sure why you've had trouble capturing to a firewire drive... I've done that successfully as well.

For capturing, I've used both Vidcap and (most recently) Adobe's OnLocation. Neither drop frames.

johnmeyer wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:50 PM
Something is very, very wrong with your setup if you are dropping frames. I used to use a PCMCIA Firewire card in a 700 MHz laptop with a 4500 rpm drive and it worked fine. I've captured to all sorts of USB drives on my slightly more modern 4-year old Dell.

However, on the old laptop, that was all DV. Have you tried capturing DV? I would do that first to see if there is a device driver issue with how the HDV camcorder is recognized. Theoretically, the data rate of HDV and DV are the same, but the capture drivers are different. This would help eliminate one issue.

Also, try to benchmark the disk drive to see what sort of data rate it reports. The old Studio DV editing program had a nifty utility built in that would tell you if your drive was fast enough to keep up.

Also, I would try capturing from your camcorder to the internal hard drive. This will eliminate any issues having both the camcorder and the disk drive running off the same PCMCIA card. If you can get that to work, then another thing to try is to connect the camcorder in a daisy chain with the disk drive. Normally I wouldn't recommend that, but I'm trying to suggest various different things to try in order to narrow down what is causing the problem.
RalphM wrote on 11/13/2008, 7:58 PM
Should be no problem editing or capturing with this drive. The HDV stream requires essentially the same throughput as mini DV (DV25).
Cliff Etzel wrote on 11/13/2008, 8:10 PM
John, the challenges I ran into was using x64 XP Pro - I have recently moved to Vista 64 and haven't tried the capture via firewire since doing that - it may be I need to try the test again - I'm finding Vista is more stable and utilizes system resources better so far on both my editing machines so it may be moot if the test works - will see tomorrow

Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist
bluprojekt | solo video journalism blog
Laurence wrote on 11/13/2008, 8:11 PM
I recently started using eSata drives, but I have done plenty of work with both USB2 and Firewire drives. Both worked just fine.
johnmeyer wrote on 11/13/2008, 9:14 PM
Oh ... Vista. Sorry, I can't help you with that one.
S R wrote on 12/24/2008, 12:57 PM
Some BASICS to try, before assuming Vegas software problems :

unplug ALL other USB items, leaving just the camera and the disk drive

don't have any other software running during capture.
(there may be stuff you don't realize -- check the Windows startup sequence,
remove anything that is merely a convenience at startup,
like apple quicktime, adobe reader, microsoft office, various other items ....)

Does the disk drive have its own external a/c power?
some newer USB drives (particularly pocket portables) draw power from the USB bus,
and that power is greatly limited !

Does the 7200 rpm disk have at least a 16 MB internal memory buffer ?
If not, with high bandwidth use, expect problems.

Is it a single disk drive, with no RAID software enabled?
(redundancy / error correction takes time.)

Maximize the memory on your laptop. At least two gigabytes.

Replace the USB cable with a new one, short length: 6 feet or less.
(longer cables can reduce effective speed)

make sure it is a name brand cable (eg Belkin) and marked "USB 2.0"
A data cable can work OK for low speed, but have problems with time critical high speed

Turn off the WiFi and Bluetooth wireless adapters during video capture.
(don't want them spending CPU, seeking connections)

Run Microsoft Task Manager, sort by descending CPU
see if anything else significant is running

More of a problem 10 years ago
A disk with some hardware problems can work ok at low speeds,
with the crutch of automatic error correction firmware. (Transparent to user.)
Error correction takes time.

Try a second, brand new disk.

Hope these ideas help ....
Opampman wrote on 12/24/2008, 2:03 PM
Cliff - I don't use Vista but have 5 USB external drives on XP Pro. I capture HDV via firewire onto the USB drive and have for years. Never had a dropped fram from that setup. Then I edit in Vegas 3,4,5,6,7, or 8 onto the USB drive without a problem.
richard-amirault wrote on 12/24/2008, 7:04 PM
It may not be the usb connection ... OR the drive itself.

My desktop will no longer import via Vegas without dropping frames like crazy. I've been importing videos via Windows Movie Maker.

This computer used to import via Vegas just fine, but I installed / changed something and the next time I started a new project, it would not import without dropping frames.

Before you ask .. this was a while ago and I don't remember what I installed / changed. I suppose it may be a irq conflict or somthing like that but I haven't looked (or even not sure what to look for)
musicvid10 wrote on 12/24/2008, 7:21 PM
**My desktop will no longer import via Vegas without dropping frames like crazy. **

If you have IDE drives there's a good chance DMA got turned off somehow.
You'll find it in Device Manager, in the option for the drive controller.
MSK wrote on 12/24/2008, 9:17 PM
Maybe this article would shed light on that question:

richard-amirault wrote on 12/25/2008, 4:23 AM
If you have IDE drives there's a good chance DMA got turned off somehow.

Yes, but, why would this effect only Vegas imports, and not Windows Movie Maker imports?
musicvid10 wrote on 12/25/2008, 8:27 AM
Sorry I've never tried Movie Maker, so I can't address that question.
My suggestion comes from the observation that on older (pata/ide) machines, dropped frames are are often a result of the DMA being turned off, buss sharing with non-UDMA devices, or resource hogging by running apps/processes.
If that's not the problem, you've lost nothing by checking to rule it out.