My Book Studio Edition 1TB + Final Cut Express

Western Digital My Book Studio Edition 1TB

Western Digital My Book Studio Edition 1TB

It’s been a while since my last post, but the problems I had this week-end deserve a blog post just in case someone would run into the same crazy hard drive problems.

Conclusion: if you buy a Western Digital My Book Studio Edition already formatted for the Mac, don’t believe them and reformat the drive before using it as a scratch drive in Final Cut Express.

Conclusion: don’t buy the My Book Studio Edition 1TB for use with Final Cut Express.  U suspect the one I got was not a 7200rpm drive and that the controller is not bullet proof with Mac OS X.

UPDATE 1: after capturing 2.5 hours of video, it started to loose frames once again.  With about 228GB of data on the disk, capturing errors occured.  I am returning the drive to Best Buy and going to the Apple Store to buy another one, Seagate probably.

UPDATE 2: I finally went to the Apple Store and got a LaCie d2 Quadra 1TB drive.  I definitly see a speed increase due to the 7200rpm spindle speed and so far, capturing is a breeze in FCE.

It all started when I decided to capture my trip footage (5 Mini DV tapes).  I realized that my 300GB drive reserved for video editing was almost full.  A great WD 7200rpm IDE drive that always worked perfectly.

So I decided to go buy a brand new one.  I was looking for a Firewire 800 interface and around 1TB of storage, and 7200rpm (which is a must in video editing).

So I saw the WD My Book Studio Edition 1TB offering at Best Buy, and it seemed to be the perfect choice.  I trust WD (never had problems with their drives in the past 6 8 yeras) and it is specifically built for the mac (the drive is formatted as HFS+ journaled).  But I was not so sure about the spindle speed.  It is no where specified on the box and on their web site.  So I was a bit afraid.  Some places on the net (such as Amazon) say it is a 7200rpm drive.  And WD themselves market the drive as a solution for video editors.  But the WD FAQ say that they only garranty the storage size and throughput and don’t specify the spindle speed.  Scarry!

So I bought the drive.  Here’s what happened when back home.

I connect the drive through the FW 800 adapter and yes, the drive is seen as a HFS+ drive.  So I copy over all my video files from my 300GB drive.  2 -3 hours later, I launch Final Cut Express and proceed with a video capture.  Almost 2 minutes down the road, an error occurs: frame dropped.  This is usually a sign that the storage hardware cannot keep up with the data coming in.

So here are all my attempts at getting this error away:

  1. Restart the capture, just in case it was a transient error.  FAIL
  2. Instead of using the “Now” capture mode, set in/out edit points and capture using the “Clip” mode. FAIL
  3. Restart the mac and attemps a new capture.  FAIL
  4. Change the user preferences so that the dropped frames are ignored during capture.  Capture works but the playback is aweful: freezing, out of sync with the audio.  Totally unacceptable.  FAIL
  5. Use the other FW800 cable that I have. FAIL
  6. Do the capture and store on my old drive. SUCCESS.  At this point, I know the problem is with the new drive and not the DV tape or FCE.
  7. Upgrade the drive firmware to 1.034 and attempt another capture: FAIL
  8. Capture through the USB2 interface instead of FW800.  FAIL

At this point, I was suspecting that the drive inside the enclosure might not be a 7200rpm drive and that would for sure explain the problem.

Before returning the drive to Best Buy, I decided to try something I should have done earlier: reformat the drive using Disk Utility.

Then I tried a capture with the blank new drive: SUCCESS.  Capture works great and the playback if quick and snappy like my old drive.

Alright.  Maybe it now works because the drive is empty.  I copy over my old video editing content (192GB).  2-3 hours later, I try a capture and again, it works great.

At the end of the day, I learned that we should NEVER trust the formatting of a out-of-the-box drive and always reformat it before use.

Hoping this post will help someone else!