A crashed computer is more than just resurrecting documents, spreadsheets photos etc. Here’s a plan to help.

It will happen to everyone at some stage. It might not be tomorrow or next week or even next year, but happen it will, and when it does, you need to be a goof little Boy Scout.

Be Prepared.

What is this disastrous possibility you ask? Simple dear reader, a hard drive failure.

The thing is, whilst your data (documents, photos, spreadsheets etc) ARE of course valuable, when it comes to rebuilding a system due to a malfunction, then the time-consuming part is not resurrecting that data.

I bring this up, as just recently I have been through this ‘trauma’ with a trusty 6-year-old Dell biting the dust. This machine has rarely been turned off in that entire time and so has had a hard life, and probably lasted maybe a couple of years longer than I expected. (My previous Dell lasted 4 years. I have used Dell XPS machines for nearly 15 years now I believe and been very happy with them as a whole).

Let me explain exactly what my setup is, and that will give you a feel for what, if unprepared, an almighty task would lie ahead.

The “box” contains a single 4TB drive split into a pair of 2TB partitions with all of the OS stuff (Windows 10 Premium) on the first partition (Drive C) and applications on the second (Drive D). For data, I have a Seagate 8TB USB 3 drive connected.

There is 32GB RAM and 8 USB slots for peripherals, one of which goes to a powered 16 port USB hub.

Why so many USB’s? This is a partial clue as to why reconstituting a system can be so painful!

I have a lot of peripherals I use daily. An awful lot. Here is a list:

If any of the above are not directly plugged in (the mouse for example) then they have a corresponding USB dongle that needs a port.

There are a few other things I dabble with on occasion that also require ports such as Arduino and Rapsberry Pi electronics, and of course there are needs to get data off drones, cameras, phones and so on.

A number of these need device drivers and so of course when rebuilding a system, you need easy access to these.  I back these up in a separate folder, each with a sub-folder for the exact device and meaningfully named to aid in later identification.

Speaking of backups, I use a pair of Seagate Barracudas in a RAID array and powered by a Synology NAS system. I was put onto this by Adam Turner (of Vertical Hold – an excellent techie podcast – fame) and it was quite easy to setup and maintain on my network.

But it doesn’t there of course.

Back in the “old days”, we had floppy disks as masters to our precious programs – later to become CDs and then DVDs. Today everything is mostly downloaded as compressed files (ZIP, MSI and so on) and so to save re-downloading all of these (with exception), I save the masters of these to again separate folders, also meaningfully named.

The major exceptions are those applications that have a Control Panel type system such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Office and Maxon where there is no EXE or ZIP file as such, and these systems automatically update, so all you need to do is re-install the master controller and log in.

But then you also have all the plugins and so on you have for these programs, and if you have a Loupedeck CT (if not why not!) the downloaded profiles this uses, which when you boil it down comes down to hundreds, if not thousands of macros and icon images in each profile.

I use profiles from SideshowFX by the way which are both well thought out and dare I say it, beautifully crafted.

So, now knowing all this, even with a fairly regimented storage system of the stuff I need to get a dead machine to rise from the ashes in the form of a brand new Dell XPS becomes a 2 day job, at least to get everything back to the way you want it.

My suggestion therefore is that if you have not planned a resuscitation routine, you do so with some alacrity! Even with the best plans in place, and assuming nothing goes wrong, it’s a bastard of a job, so best make it as easy as possible.

Footnote: What IS interesting is that before it died on the old system, out of the 2TB I had as the OS “boot drive”, I was down to less than 15GB free. The 2nd partition, the D drive, has around 40GB free out of the 2TB. With the new system setup, and almost identical in configuration, my C drive has over 600GB free and the D drive 900GB.

It goes to show how much “rubbish” is picked up as you go along doesn’t it, despite how many times you run disk cleaners, defraggers and so on.



Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro and SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem

Just over a week ago I reviewed the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem and discovered its minor quirks and an … ahhhm… omitted entry in the user notes.

But all in all, I thought the concept was a brilliant one, and still do.

Now, in my further playing investigations, I have discovered something else. I alluded to this in the original article, but only now managed to get around to testing it.

Will the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem work as an external SSD for a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro?

And the answer is yes, but again with a weird quirk.

I had formatted the drive for Windows as per the finally discovered documentation covering this area that is missing from the user notes (thank you Norman at SanDisk Tech for this – https://support-en.wd.com/app/answers/detailweb/a_id/30566 ), and connected the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro to the Transport unit containing the Mag (the actual drive).

And damn it, the camera would not see it in the installed media on the main screen in the LCD.

However going into the bowels of the camera’s OS, and the area covering storage, it DID see the drive as unformatted. So, in for a penny and in for a pound, I used the camera to again format the drive.

It took around 30 seconds for the 2TB and then lo! It was there, and I have a tasty 5 hours + of storage available.

Why it needed a camera format (both were set for NTFS) I have no idea, but what the hell, I don’t car, it worked and Windows can still the SanDisk when it is plugged in to the USB-C port.

Footnote: It is imperative in both cases you use the USB-C cable that comes with the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem. From my experience, other 3rd party USB-C cables may not work, but your mileage of course may vary.

Image: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro inside a SmallRig cage and the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem. If you are interested in the cage I reviewed it here and they are available for a wide range of cameras from the Videoguys.

The mounted light is an Aputure AL-M9 (reviewed here) available from Kayell.

Review: SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem

The concept is stunningly simple in its execution.

Imagine a “memory stick” on steroids capable of holding 1TB and with units available up to 4TB. To get data on and off it, there is an aluminium cradle affair that looks like, and is about the same size as, say a 10K mAh Powerbank.

This means you can have a couple or more of these “memory sticks”, and safely have data such as video or mass numbers of stills backed up safely from the camera / camcorder medium. To add icing to the cake, the Mags are hot swappable too.

This is called the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem, comprising the Pro-Blade Mags (the memory sticks) and the Pro-Blade Transport (the cradle). Also included (optionally) is the Pro-Blade Station which can carry 4 Pro-Blade mags at once, simultaneous offloading and super-fast speeds up to 3000MB/s read and write.

The Pro-Blade Transport in contrast can “only” read and write 2000MB/s.

It’s not only technically very impressive, but looks the goods too, all stylish and science-fictiony in ribbed gun metal.

The Mags start at AUD$329 for the 1TB units, the Transport is a further $149. The Station will be released in a few weeks, and we’ll have a price then.

One area this will be of interest to many is the ability for this unit to be plugged directly into a camera such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Pro 6K. Instead of having to swap out drives when they are full (which does not take long in RAW); you can just switch out a Mag and replace it with a new one on the fly.

But before you race out the door to get one (I can imagine any number of people that will be dribbling over this), there is a catch and a ‘gotcha’.

The ‘gotcha’ first. Unless I am as blind as a bat, nowhere in the documentation I got is there mention that ALL SanDisk products are preformatted as the Mac OS. This means that if you try and get it working on a Windows PC, it simply will refuse. The fix to that is here.

And that catch is that USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 is needed to be able to read / write at maximum speed.

My workhorse desktop is a 4-year-old Dell XPS, and while this will read the likes of Samsung T5s and T7s, it wouldn’t have a bar of the Pro-Blade. Sure, you get the customary beep when connected, but while showing in Disk Management under Windows 10, it will not mount as a working readable / writeable drive.

4 years in the life of a computer is a long time, so I wasn’t overly surprised, if not a tad disappointed. But not to worry, my 12-month-old Gigabyte Aero laptop will no doubt be up to date enough?

Nope. Same result.

I had to interrupt the proceedings to go into town, and as an afterthought, took the Pro-Blade Mag and Transport with me. One of my errands was next door to the local Hardly Normal, and so popped in there to see what they had on display that would read it (without going to the exorbitant costs of some of the gaming machines on show).

None of them is the short answer.

It took my wife’s up to date iMac she uses for creating music with Logic Pro to finally break the impasse.

And now that it has been broken, the Pro-Blade system IS impressive. There is not really a lot you can say about it really, as it does exactly what it says it’ll do. And bloody fast at that!

But even then, it is still only running at ½ the capable speed as far as I can tell, with not even this mighty Mac giving the full USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 support.

You see, USB 3.2 2×2 supports 2 lanes of data going at 10Gb/s both ways to reach the maximum speed of 20Gb/s. Macs however (and still many PCs) can only support one lane of data flow through USB 3.2 2×2 cables and devices though and so you will only get USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds on a Mac i.e. 10Gb/s via one single lane.

I do stand to be corrected if I have missed something by the way.

Now I don’t pretend to be a technical person as such. I get the gist of most stuff but prefer plug ‘n’ play to going back to the bad old days. In my researching of all this, I was fortunate enough to get sent a chart of info by Ray Shaw from Cybershack that gave me serious assistance as per below, so thanks Ray.

  • USB-A 1.0 1.5-12Mbps half-duplex (< half-speed both ways)
  • USB-A 2.0 480Mb/s half-duplex
  • USB- A 3.0 5Gb/s. half-duplex (has a Blue tongue and likely on PCs post-2010)
  • USB-C 3.1 Gen 1×1. 5Gbps half-duplex (PCs post-2015)
  • 3.1 Gen 2×1. 10Gbps (full-duplex approx. full speed both ways. PCs post-2018)
  • 3.2 Gen 2×2, 20Gbpps (full-duplex likely on PCs post-2020)
  • 4.0 Gen 2×2, 20GB/s (full-duplex. PCs late 2021)
  • 4.0 Gen 3×2, 40Gbps (full-duplex) but rare
  • Thunderbolt 3, 40Gbps and backwards compatible with USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (or may require a dongle/dock
  • Thunderbolt 4, 40Gbps and backwards compatible with USB-C 4.0 and 3.2 Gen 2

The end result of all this is that I have decided to bite the bullet and buy a new computer to future proof at least the next 4 years. These days that is a mammoth task in itself with so many permutations available, even if you discard laptops and all-in-ones.

Last time I bought online (the Dell), and after trawling around the displays at hardly Normal, JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks etc, I have decided to revisit that method (at least 3 people assured me that I only needed 8GB RAM for video editing).

It turns out a PC (no monitor or keyboard) to match all the specs needed is going to cost about $3299.

So, this turned into a slightly expensive review!

Tutorial: Adding a remote guest to a Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro live stream

As many know, I am an avowed fan of the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro.

But the other day I got to thinking; what if I wanted to do a stream that included a guest who was remote from me? How could I include that as a part of the overall Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro setup seeing as it requires an HDMI feed to work in conjunction with the ATEM control software?

The obvious starting point was for someone to “phone in” using Skype or Facebook, but again, how could that be channelled into the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro?

One suggestion was to have the guest call via say Facebook and receive that call in the studio on a laptop. That in turn could have its external HDMI port connected to the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro.

Another was to receive the call on a smartphone or tablet, again using Facebook, Skype etc, and using a USB-C to HDMI cable, feed that into the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro.

The last, which I favoured as in my experience, USB to HDMI cables can be a hit and miss effect, is to use a Google Chromecast 2 into HDMI port 4 of the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro, receive the call on a tablet or smartphone and simply “cast it”.

You just need to have the Chromecast setup using Google Home and connected to wi-fi.

Works a treat!

By the way, I also tried it with a Chromecast version 1, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro just refused to pick up the HDMI stream from it.

As you can see from the photo, I also use a Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD to record the streams.

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Tutorial: Video Editing Basics. The Hardware (and Other Stuff) You Need.

Yesterday I wrote a piece on the Basics of video editing and what you need to know in order to edit that footage of the round Australia caravan trip, the grand child’s first steps or footy match, the family wedding or other get together or simply create a short video for your Instagram feed, Facebook page or YouTube / Vimeo / TikTok account.

In hindsight, whilst the article has seemed to fill a required purpose (judging by the number of readers), what probably should have prefaced it was a story on what equipment is needed in order to be able to actually do that editing successfully and painlessly.

Video editing is probably the most hardware specification intensive task there is and having an under horse-powered computer is very frustrating.

There are other tools too – hardware and software – to make life easier.

So here is a list of the basics I recommend and some options too.

Computer Hardware

I could bore you silly with explanations of fast RAM, specific video cards with super-duper GPUs on them and other nerdy esoteric stuff, but I won’t. Suffice to say that in this day and age, as long as you have the following specifications no matter it be a desktop or laptop or Mac or Windows based, you should be fine AS A MINIMUM.

  • 16GB RAM – the more the merrier.
  • 500 GB hard disk (preferably what is known as an SSD or solid-state disk).
  • Minimum 2 USB ports – one for a mouse as using touch pads for video is p-a-i-n-f-u-l!
  • Screen with resolution of MINIMUM 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Intel i7 or better processor
  • SD card slot (not just a micro-SD card slot as comes with some Microsoft Surfaces or ASUS laptops)

That’ll get you going

Other hardware (optional)

  • sandisk extreme pro ssdA FAST external hard drive such as the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD I mention yesterday is a good an on and video files stored on this can be edited directly without having to copy them to your main computer hard drive
  • Contour_SPROV2_ShuttlePRO_v2_1535723463000_298670A Contour ShuttlePro 2 is a highly recommended bit of kit for precise editing. See a full review here.
  • A DECENT mouse such as a Logitech MX Master 3. Your wrists will thank me down the track (See why here).
  • LKB-VEGAS-APBH-USA DECENT keyboard. I use a Logitech gaming unit as the keys are orange backlit, but I also recommend those dedicated ones designed with coloured keycaps for specific video editing programs such as Vegas Pro, Adobe Premiere or Grass Valley EDIUS for example. If you are flush with a few dollars and use the very good (and free) Da Vinci Resolve editing software, then the Blackmagic Design DaVinci keyboard is a ripper, albeit expensive.
  • Sennheiser-HD-600S-Open-Back-Headphone-1024x800A really, really good set of headphones, especially if you create music videos. You want a set that doesn’t “colour” your audio with extra bass or other frequencies and our resident audio expert here at Australian Videocamera recommends the Sennheiser range for just that reason. The best of the best is the HD660S headphone and there is a full review here.

Ancillary Software

Most of the better video editing packages (also known as NLEs) have a feast of inbuilt features, but as your interest in editing  and film making grows, there are add on packages I can highly recommend as superb adjuncts to make life easier, editing faster and give more flexibility.

  1. Kyno

Kyno is a superb automatic cataloguing system for all your clips, stills and other media used in making videos – including audio. Check our review and  get a trial version (you will NEVER go back!)

  1. Techsmith SNAGIT and Camtasia.

For getting screen grabs and quick and dirty image manipulation (SNAGIT) or for more complex grabbing of screen animations (Camtasia) you cannot go past these two. If you make tutorials, they are invaluable. Get trial versions here.

  1. ProDAD ProDrenalin

This program is a boon for those that use so-called “action cams” as they have a number of, shall we call, quirks inherent in their design that ProDrenalin (and its bigger brother Mercalli) assist in rectifying including “curved horizon” and the horrible distortion effect seen mostly notably on clips of aircraft propellers. But ProDrenalin is also useful for smartphone and camera / camcorder shooters as well as action cam users to remove any camera shake.

  1. Bluff Titler

If you have a hankering for fancy titles and text overlays, have a look at Bluff Titler. Not as sophisticated some may say as NewBlue Titler Pro, but not as expensive either while still being a very classy package!


There are many other add-on bits of hardware, plugins for NLEs and 3rd party applications in the wonderful world of video making and I have only covered a tiny fraction of what is available. These are the ones I think everyone should have as a minimum, but we regularly cover all aspects of hardware and software in Australian Videocamera.

To guarantee your free copy each month, either reply to the pop-up offer you see on this page or fill in the form at https://filmvideoandvirtualreality.wordpress.com/win-a-12-month-licence-for-borisfx-continuum-complete/ where you will also go into the draw to win a 12 month licence for BorisFX Continuum Complete!

You can also get the latest version as a download PDF by clicking here.




Quick Review: SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD

Now this is just getting plain silly.

A 1TB capacity, portable hard disk that uses SSD technology, is less than the thickness of, oh I dunno, maybe half the depth of my Huawei P30 mobile and not much larger than a credit card. If you want exacts, it is 11cm x 5.5cm x 1cm approx.

No, none of THAT stuff is silly of course. Hard disk drives – although these days of course there is no actual “disk” – have evolved a long, long way since I dropped a 10MB one down a staircase at my old Tandy Computer Centre in Subiaco.

That’s right, in 1982, a 10MB – not gigabyte, MEGABYTE – with just over 8MB usable was massive and cost around $6 grand. A bit later, and not that much either, a 10MB HDD was the standard size in the IBM PC and its clones like the Olivetti M24 and cost about a grand.

And they were still fragile too.

I remember seeing my first 16MB USB stick. So rare and expensive it was, that the PR company, now long gone, that sent it to me wanted it back after a week!

And so over the years it went on; memory got cheaper and cheaper, drives got smaller and smaller and capacity got more and more.

But a 1TB USB based drive that is so fast, you can edit 4K video directly from it?

That’s right. The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD (RRP around $430) has a claimed 1 gigabyte / second read speed.

I tried it. And you can.

It’s designed to dissipate heat from the forged aluminium body and the whole thing is covered in a rubber coating that is also apparently dust / water protected to IP55 standard.

(The first 5 means: Protected against quantity of dust that could interfere with the normal operation of the product but not fully dust tight. Complete protection against solid objects.

The second 5 means: Protection assured against water jets projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) from any angle.

Now you know).

It comes with a 5-year warranty too.

I reckon my mates that shoot motor sport on their dSLRs and mirrorless beasties as well as the video guys knocking out 4K footage in the field like there is no tomorrow, will go nuts over this. With the Bathurst 12 hour next weekend, I’d be getting down to wherever you buy your kit from and grab one guys.

Try here for starters.

While we have you, on our “Donate” page we have four options: $5, $10, $20 and $50 donation buttons via PayPal (which also allows payment via VISA and Mastercard etc. These are in US$ by the way).

If you decide we are worth a small ONE-OFF donation via this method, we would greatly appreciate it and will allow us to continue at the same professional level we have strived for for almost 14 years now!

More information as to WHY we have added this option is on the Donate page.