I’ve been doing a bunch of video work lately. Some quick and dirty editing of videos for NYCSS so they could do boat briefings remotely, a bunch more for a friend who is an instructor at NAIT and needed to do demos remotely, and finally I am just starting on some for L and her COVID-mutated instructional semester.


This has involved over 30 or so videos to date and well over 250 gig of data.

The Need for Speed

My 2015 Macbook Pro has been working like a champ and I really only ran into issues when copying massive files off the internal drive (500 gig with barely 100 gig left as working space) back and forth to my externals and rendering a few of the files with lots of adjustments. And I really didn’t think I could do anythingto speed up any of that without a huge investment of $$.

Turns out I was wrong.

Issue 1

I was using my external 2 terabyte usb/sata drive as both a repository for my cache files and storage for completed work. Copying a 4 gig finished file took 5 or 6 minutes and if I left it too long and had to transfer 15 or 20 gig it was etter if I just left and went and had a coffee.

I don’t remember what it was that got me looking at my USB hub, but at some point I noticed it was a cheapo one I had bought years ago and was strictly USB 2.0. That is to say 60 megabytes a second. I did a quick “About this Computer” and lo and behold the Macbook Pro  physical usb ports were USB 3.0—that is to say rated for 500 megabytes a second. Um. But I still didn’t do anything about it because, well, math is hard. Then one of my 2 USB ports on the Macbook stopped working.

$37 dollars later and now things are really screaming. Silly, silly boy.

Issue 2

My trusty externals have been chuggin’ away like champs but because they are mechanical hard drives they can really only do one thing at a time — imagine they are remotely like a turntable: the read/write arm has to move back and forth across a physical “platter” constantly every time it performs an operation.

What the alternative? A SSD (solid state drives: essentially just big flash drives) which are purely electronic and have no moving parts. But SSDs are really expensive right?

Ummm. No.

At least not any more. I picked up a couple of high speed Samsung 500 gig SSD drives for ~$130/each. Scream-ing Fast. (See above screen shot.)

And so tiny!

So now I can fire stuff back and forth quickly and have an extra terabyte of space. And best of all if I dump my working cache files to one of them, it can also read/write asynchronously which helps to dramatically improve performance when I am working in Premiere and After Effects.

In summation

I made some pretty silly assumptions. The  core of which was that technology, and most especially technology pricing, would stand still — with the corollary that my 5-year-old machine couldn’t be made to work faster and harder. I am especially chagrined by the USB hub debacle. $37 bucks. 8X faster (I finally did the math). Duh.

As an Aside

All this work has really been an awesome learning experience. I have honed my After Effects skills some more, learned to deal with a new kind of workflow, and best of all got to try out Adobe’s cloud-sharing to work collaboratively with others. We must of moved 300+ gig of files back and forth over the cloud.

I should set up shop doing fancy video effects for all those remote teachers and professors 🙂