Samsung: The holy grail of media

Posted on Aug 25, 2020 by Definition Magazine

Ollie Kenchington, creative director of Korro Films, instantly improved his workflow by using the Samsung Portable SSD X5

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Korro Films is a multiservice production company, meaning it works across the genres of work, from social media clips to branded content. It deals with a huge amount of increasing high-resolution work and has lately prioritised a Raw file workflow. The downside of this is the transfer of these files around, and in and out of, the studio. The creative director of Korro Films, Ollie Kenchington was therefore very keen to try out media that could remedy the situation.

To try it out, Kenchington used the Samsung Portable SSD X5 to transfer the rushes from a project for one of his clients, which was shot in 120fps 4K Raw. “So we’re talking big, big files – big data rates for the files. I transferred them over to the Samsung Portable SSD X5 to work on them from my laptop at another location.”

The Samsung Portable SSD X5 gives you a drive that’s lightweight and bus-powered

He explains: “This is a typical kind of workflow for us. We make archive copies of our rushes on to a slower, but bigger, RAID. And then we use these smaller capacity but faster drives as our (what we call) ‘working drives’. And so that’s how we were working with the Samsung portable drive and our workflow.”

According to Kenchington, the 2TB version of the drive is the perfect size for Korro Films. “We do shoot Raw an awful lot. You know, if we’re shooting for a day in Raw, that’s going to be probably over a terabyte, and we’d like to normally have enough capacity to work on a couple of days’ rushes at a time. It’s as simple as we either have ten 1TB drives, or we only need to have five 2TB drives – it really just comes down to as basic a thing as that. Our cameras just keep improving, they keep getting much higher quality with larger data rate files, which is great from a post-production point of view. It gives us so many more options, but it does mean that they are big files.”

A question of speed

Kenchington was expecting a fast drive, but the Samsung Portable SSD X5 astounded him with its speed. “It’s right up there as the fastest portable drive we’ve ever used; the read speed is 2.8GB/s and the write speed is 2.3GB/s. I mean, that’s super, super quick. That’s faster than even the internal drives in our computers so, you know, the combination of Thunderbolt 3 with those very fast SSD module NVMe drives that Samsung uses is a winning combination.

“It really is. It just gives you a superfast drive that’s lightweight and bus-powered, which is a really important feature for us. I’m often working remotely or away, where you don’t want the inconvenience of having to be plugged into the mains. And a bus-powered Thunderbolt 3, 2TB drive is kind of the holy grail for us. There aren’t that many out there. And, actually, the ones that we have used in the past are much more expensive. So I think the price point is really good on this drive, too.”

The combination of Thunderbolt 3 with an SSD that reaches well above 2GB/s and with a 2TB capacity – that’s the holy trinity for us

But what were the other benefits of using a portable drive as fast as the Samsung Portable SSD X5? “The other point for me is that we don’t have to transcode the files because the drive is so fast and, you know, the capacities are large,” enthuses Kenchington. “That’s a huge thing for us – we can work from the files natively. The problem with slower drives is that – because the read/write speed isn’t fast enough to keep up with the large data rate files – you do have to transcode them in order to work them. And that’s what we’ve always done in the past.”

He continues: “We’ve had 2TB drives for a number of years now, but they’ve always been much slower. And, therefore, you either filled them up with lower data rate files, or you filled them up with the Raw files that we often shoot with, but you then have to transcode those to work with them. Essentially, to get the data rate low enough so that you’re not going quicker than exceeding the speed that you can actually read and write from the drive. So for us, the whole benefit of these portable drives, and their speed and capacity, is that we don’t have to transcode them.”

Perfect for Raw work

As Kenchington has recently started working more with Raw files, it means the Samsung Portable SSD X5 has arrived at the perfect time. “For us, the use of these drives is very specific. It’s taking Raw rushes from our cameras and editing files from that drive without having to use bigger wall-powered workstations or anything like that,” he explains. “For instance we were filming some social media clips for one of our clients in 120fps 4K Raw with a cinema camera, and the rushes from that had very high data rates. But I needed to check them from my laptop at home away from the studio.

“I literally took the CFexpress card from the camera, which is a new type of memory card with a Thunderbolt 3 CFexpress reader. I then copied those 4K 120fps Raw files from the CFexpress card straight to the Samsung Portable SSD X5, and took them home and was editing and colour grading and playing back those native Raw files directly from my laptop from the drive, which is really pushing it to the limits. There aren’t many other workflows that are going to exceed that kind of level. I was doing that for several hours. In video production, that’s about as high sort of throughput as anyone would need, I’d expect.”

Kenchington explains that one of his main complaints with a lot of hard drives on the market is that they’re promoted for their speed, but they make use of USB 3.1 connectors, “which just wastes that speed basically”. He adds: “The 40Gbps throughput that Thunderbolt 3 offers is perfect for a very fast NVMe SSD like the Samsung Portable SSD X5, because it means you haven’t got a bottleneck with the cable. And, as I say, with our computers, they’ve all got multiple Thunderbolt 3 ports, so it’s perfect.”

Kenchington concludes that the Samsung Portable SSD X5 offers everything he is looking for. “The combination of Thunderbolt 3, speeds of well above 2GB/s and a 2TB capacity – that’s kind of the holy trinity for us. Especially as it’s so portable, with its compact size and durability. A bus-powered, superfast Thunderbolt 3 drive ticks all of those boxes, and enables us to capture the Raw, high data rate files with our cameras, and to work with those files remotely. That definitely has a big impact on the way we work.”

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