Nino is an award-winning filmmaker, DP and film producer based in Vienna. He focuses mainly on documentary and commercial work. He also runs and is one of the owners of cinema5D.com, one of the most popular digital filmmaking tech reviews and news sites in the world.
Austrian-born Nino Leitner recently took an early look at the newly announced Sony FX9 and Canon C500 Mark II on his filmmaking tech reviews and news site cinema5D.com, which he runs alongside his partner-in-crime Johnnie Behiri and a global team of dozens of editors and contributors. Today, the Austrian-born filmmaker and cinematographer shoots on many different cameras, including the ARRI Alexa, the Sony FS7, the Fujifilm X-T3 as well as Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema and Ursa Mini Pro Cameras. “It’s the best time to be a filmmaker,” Leitner says, “there is no perfect camera for everything, but now there is a camera for every type of our job.” Being mainly a documentary filmmaker, Leitner often has to shoot under very difficult lighting conditions. With more and more cameras supporting 12-bit RAW acquisition, and new ProRes RAW and Blackmagic RAW recording options for many cameras, it will be easier to record RAW footage that allows for extensive post-processing. The problem, of course, is that 12-bit and more requires a dramatic increase in storage capacity and performance.
Such technical improvements are nothing new to Leitner. From his earliest documentary production in the early 2000’s to his recent work on commercials for BMW and multi-cam music videos for Manu Delago, Leitner has been elbow-deep in dealing with storage throughout the cinematographic process. He knows that wrong storage solution will cripple and potentially derail a project. This is why Leitner now leans heavily on storage solutions from G-Technology.
"Obviously, file sizes are growing exponentially," says Leitner. "You shoot 4.6K RAW on a Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro G2 camera or something like that and you end up with huge amounts of data that need to be saved. It’s sometimes more than 1TB of data for one hour of footage — insane! And I usually try to never delete anything on-set, because that’s just asking for errors to happen. I try to pull data off only from backup copies of the drives and cards. I keep the original drives untouched as long as possible."
The upside to this approach is maximum data security. If original copies are never touched, there’s almost no risk of information loss. Of course, this also means needing double or triple the storage capacity on hand in order to make and work with backup copies. Leitner notes doing a recent job for another TV commercial that yielded almost 8TB of raw footage, and he needed three times that capacity for his total workflow. On average, he uses 6TB to 16TB per month, although that number is clearly climbing.
Long before being contacted by G-Technology to join its G-TEAM of world-renowned creative professionals, Leitner made G-Technology drives part of his daily toolset. His favored backup product on-set is the G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile Pro SSD. The drive features a Thunderbolt 3 interface, and measures roughly 4.41” x 3.15” x 0.67”. This makes for a very flexible, compact backup solution that can also be easily shared with clients, such as when delivering dailies or submitting edited projects for review, and at up to 2800MB/s, it’s fast enough even for the most demanding jobs.
If there is a downside to portable backup drives, it’s that they tend to trade backup safety for convenience. In a time when the industry is moving from 2K formats to 4K, 6K and higher—and the added data load of 8-bit to 12-bit and more — some other backup drives often lack the throughput necessary to handle the higher bitrates of these latest formats.
"On a job, if I’m shooting something like the Alexa or RED that needs more speed than what a normal drive can handle, I use G-Technology’s G-SPEED Shuttle SSD,” says Leitner. “I love that drive for editing. Not in the field, because it needs power—but in a hotel? You can really throw huge amounts of data on that. On the recent music video shoots, it literally saved our butts because without it, our digital imaging technician would still be sitting there copying data to USB drives two weeks after the shoot."
The G-DRIVE Mobile Pro SSD, the G-Drive Pro SSD and G-SPEED Shuttle SSD with Thunderbolt 3 are sufficient to cover most of Leitner’s storage needs in the field. Back in his office, where the heaviest data lifting comes into play, Leitner is now setting up a G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle XL with 64TB. In a backup capacity, that bandwidth can also mean the difference between high on-site productivity and a terrible experience fraught with errors.
"Frequently, after the shoot," he adds, "you end up with so much data that you sit there for hours and hours backing up. It’s already 1:00, 2:00 in the morning and you have to get up at 5:00 or 6:00 again. You’re like, ‘If I didn’t have to use a slow HDD, it would save me so much time and make life so much easier!’ That happens all the time, and that’s where I really enjoy using G-Technology drives equipped with SSDs, especially the Thunderbolt 3 versions. It makes a lot of difference if you’re sitting there after the shoot for only half an hour instead of two hours."
"Like many others, I’ve gone through a lot of different manufacturers of hard disks," he says. "If you think about it, your storage is one of the most important things you can have on a shoot. One of our problems is that we don’t use tapes anymore, so we don’t have a proper archiving medium. All we can do is get the best hard drives out there. So far, I think G-Technology drives are the most reliable. I couldn’t say that about some of the other manufacturers."
Leitner emphasizes that support is another key factor behind his G-Technology preference. In addition to the company focusing its products on creative professionals, G-Technology also makes sure that its support staff are both knowledgeable and accessible from a broad number of locations around the world." You actually have people to talk to if there is a problem. G-Tech is the only one that seems to make a real effort in that regard."
This support has been instrumental in helping Leitner to balance the freedom of digital cinematography with the more challenging aspects of digital archiving. Vendors toss around the term "partner" so much that it tends to make the word weak and ambiguous, but Leitner does see G-Technology as an important partner in his creative operations. His craft and imagination may drive his career forward, but the strength of his storage keeps him on a stable course.
G-Team members are leaders in their respective fields who use G-Technology products in their day-to-day work lives. G-Team members are compensated for their participation.
G‐Technology external hard drives serve as an element of an overall backup strategy. It is recommended that users keep two or more copies of their most important files backed up or stored on separate devices or online services.