Announced back at NAB 2011 by Apple and Intel, Thunderbolt has been slow to hit the marketplace. If you're unaware of the technology, Thunderbolt is an interface for connecting peripheral devices to your computer by merging PCI Express and DisplayPort into one serial data interface that can run audio, video and data over a single cable. The main advantage of Thunderbolt is speed—it's 20 times faster than USB 2.0, 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and twice as fast as USB 3.0. You can back up a terabyte of data in mere seconds. The other big advantage is being able to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt-compatible devices. Since Thunderbolt devices all use the same connector, you only need one Thunderbolt port to link one device to another, including Apple's Thunderbolt Display. These two factors alone could possibly change the postproduction industry, but there have been some delays. Although much slower, USB 3.0 is fast enough for most users and is readily available on PCs (Macs don't support it), as well as being backward-compatible with USB 2.0. But since Thunderbolt was developed by Intel, there's hope that the technology will be available soon for both Mac and PC platforms.
For filmmakers, G-Technology has released a drive that's sure to be a hit in the postproduction community. The G-RAID with Thunderbolt has a transfer rate of 10 Gbps and comes in 4, 6 or 8 terabytes. The solidly built aluminum drive contains two 7200 rpm Hitachi drives and supports multistream HDV, DVCPro HD, XDCAM HD, ProRes 422 and uncompressed SD. In terms of size, the drive only measures 9.25x5.125x3.374 inches so it won't take up a lot of your workspace, and it has a smart-cooling fan so fan noise is minimal. If you've been using FireWire 800, you'll be amazed by the speed of backing up large ProRes files from your computer to the new G-RAID. Initial benchmark tests have shown that the G-RAID consistently writes speeds of 300 megabytes and above per second. Your Mac system will need to be running OS X 10.6 or higher, and it can be reconfigured to a mirrored RAID 1 for data protection by using the Mac OS X Disk Utility. The price point is $699.99 for the 4 TB, $849 for the 6 TB and $999.99 for the 8 TB. One drag about the G-RAID with Thunderbolt is that the drive doesn't include a Thunderbolt cable, which will set you back an additional $50. But if you're working in a professional post environment with long projects and large media files, the G-RAID with Thunderbolt is an ideal solution.
Another interesting storage device that G-Tech introduced recently is the G-Connect. The wireless storage device is designed for the iPad and iPhone to access content not stored on your mobile device. Your content can be organized into categories (photos, videos, music and documents), and to access these files, you'll need to download an iOS mobile app (an Android app is due in the summer) or users can access content via web browser. The 500 GB G-Connect can stream HD content to up to three devices or SD to up to five. The G-Connect can work as a Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) Internet access point, and you can load your content wirelessly or via USB 2.0. There's also password protection for more security. The G-Connect retails for $199.99.
On the surface, the G-Connect may sound like more of a consumer device, but I can definitely see its use on certain types of professional productions, especially indie films where the majority of your cast and crew-members are wielding iPhones and iPads. As a low-budget solution, a G-Connect almost can function like a poor man's dailies, especially in "big picture" judgments on lighting and framing.
Contact: G-Technology, (888) 426-5214, www.g-technology.com.