Shooting video takes a lot of storage space. An awful lot. This is how “Mighty Car Mods” cope.

We thought here at Australian Videocamera we had a lot of storage with over 20 terabytes of footage going back 26 years or more, all stored on a multitude of drives, mostly of Seagate origin as it happens, along with a small number of LaCie drives.

And then we came across “Mighty Car Mods” run by two chirpy chaps who go by the names of Marty and MOOG.

Their website is, oddly enough, www.mightycarmods.com.

Mighty Car Mods calls itself the “World’s Number #1 DIY Auto & Adventure show” and its aim is to show you how to customise and improve the performance of your car whilst they also travel the world experiencing “automotive adventuring”.

I suppose a bit like Top Gear or The Grand Tour for car modification enthusiasts.

Their series ‘Lend Us A Ride: Australia’ is on the Discovery channel and they have worked alongside film studios on projects including Fast & Furious and MadMax: Fury Road. They’ve also worked with gaming studios on titles such as Need for Speed and all the while made videos for almost two decades.

Their shows on YouTube have a massive audience – a quick browse through the episodes shows viewings of up to 10 million for single episodes and the channel has had over 600 million views.

Marty and MOOG do all the shooting, editing and music themselves – as well as the actual automotive modifications they spruik. In addition to their YouTube channel they also create content for their website, online store, magazine, forum, music label and even a line of clothing.

So, as you can imagine, my 20 terabytes of storage pales in comparison to theirs.

In fact, a photo on the Mighty Car Mods website shows 30+ older hard drives stacked haphazardly on a shelf containing 13 years of footage. A separate backup system is a NAS of 192TB – and that is just the archives.

So, I was curious as to how they deal with current material. What system do they have in place?

Unlike large production houses with teams of people all assigned their own specialist roles, apart from a “few mates” who help in areas such as motion graphics etc, Marty and MOOG do everything involved with the production of the show.

During the process, the footage is dumped onto Apple Thunderbolt based external drives in a RAID enclosure. This means it runs pretty quickly at – approximately 400-600MB/s in a speed test, which is plenty for multi-channel 4K video – the heaviest load they throw at it.

When they add a few tracks of music, voice over, colour correction, graphics, it’s asking a fair bit of the computers, particularly when it’s a multi-camera shoot and the computer therefore has to pull the video streams from the disk at the same time.

The MCM boys wisely try to edit in the same codec the cameras shoot, as it’s the most efficient for disk space and saves time transcoding.  This means the creative flow can keep – well – flowing without technology getting in the way.

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Once the edits are done, exported, and published, both the footage and the masters must live somewhere, and this is where their automated processes start to kick in. The RAID enclosures are backed up to a server over copper 10GB ethernet and then to another big NAS box.

Now, it’s all well and good to dump all that footage, but what if you need to find it again? This is where things get a bit trickier.

Up until recently, MCM were running a 24-bay enclosure with a Raid/SAS Card that supported 24 drives and provided over 200TB of storage which could be accessed quickly and efficiently. It was relatively easy to upgrade the drives, run a combination of JBOD, various RAID configs and do cool things like spin each drive up individually to prevent huge power draw on the PSU’s.

But now there is a better way…

MCM has a new 4-bay Thunderbolt 3 enclosure built around Seagate IronWolf 110 2.5” solid state drives connected to a Mac via Thunderbolt 3 in a RAID configuration. 

The technology for these enclosures has been around for some time, and from the beginning, they made excellent boot drives due to speed – though perhaps expensive at the time in comparison to traditional “moving” drives. 

The technology has matured quickly thankfully, and is now at the stage where the capacities are good enough to be used as serious storage as well as boot and scratch drives.

The Seagate IronWolf SSDs in the enclosure are designed for durability and a 24×7 workload performance which means the system is on and ready for back up or just accessing the drive.  The drives are also silent, use less power due to no moving parts and offer monstrously better performance.

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MCM backs up to 3 different places hourly, daily, and weekly so data loss is not a huge issue and at worst case would set them back an hour or so if it ever did happen (thankfully it hasn’t yet)

The IronWolf SSDs also come with Power Loss Protection and a two-year Rescue Data Recovery Services plan which covers the cost of data recovery in case of accidental data loss which is a bonus.

The end result for Might Car Mods is a system that quite happily hums away, with rapidly improved access speed and times which means no lags when editing their footage.  They report their system has not even blinked when multiple 4K video streams are thrown at it, with the record so far at 10 streams without a hiccup.  That’s bloody impressive to say the least!

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There is a lesson here; video is becoming a large part of everyday business and the security of it for future use and archival purposes means it is as important as your financial data or personnel records for example.

So, my advice: do it once and do it right!

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