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“Sin City” 10.8K

It’s safe to say that this “Air” project might just be one of the most exciting (and purest) things I’ve ever been a part of.

Simply put:  I shot some photographs and they’ve taken a life of their own and may very well lead to a year+ long project around the world.    I pinch myself every day.   There’s nothing cooler than having people react positively to you work, and notably when that work is an absolute guilty pleasure…   It’s what we all dream of after all isn’t it?

I think that the really interesting thing that I’m picking up on regarding this project is the fact that we might be starting to see a shift in how stories are published, shared, consumed and how that leads to more work:  without the involvement of traditional media / publishers.      When some of these images were published in a traditional magazine, little came of it.   Yet when they were published on a relatively new social media platform Storehouse – things literally exploded from there.   I’m not quite ready to say the entire model has changed – but it feels like it might be starting to figure a new way of doing business … and in a good way.

Obviously, getting this type of response to a series of images is a once in a lifetime thing – it’s not something you can “plan” for.    It literally just “happened” like most of the bigger events in my career.   While the ethos and hard work was there:  most of the “big” moments in my career were not planned.

But what I find interesting, is that with this kind of visibility came several different ways of potentially funding future shoots … of creating new content.    And I can’t say that many of those opportunities / burgeoning business models were around just a few years ago.

So I’m actually pretty excited about what that could potentially means for ALL creatives in the near future.    One fact that simply can no longer be denied in my book is that fact that traditional print media is no longer the mecca of content creation, let alone a viable business model for many of us.

These new social platforms sure seem like they just “could” be… and one part that is undeniably exciting, it the fact that those platforms don’t necessarily care about where you come from, who you are, who you know (although undeniably that can help of course…)  but ultlimately these platforms tend to reward strong original content … and that’s a pretty positive thing isn’t it?

As scary as it is…  it’s better than a bunch of older white men who publish magazines / newspapers determining what we should all read / see / consume?     That’s effectively what the media world was less than 10 years ago and going back to the start of mass publishing…   Now a teenager with a free YouTube account can literally eclipse the viewership of the biggest publication in the world…

While technology is far from perfect, and can at times be ruthless and very, very shortsighted in it’s relentless search of ‘greater efficiency’ –  for the first time in a long time, I see that it might just somehow be figuring out a way (with human help!) of finding a new, sustainable way of doing things…      More TK.

 

 

Bigger Is Better…Yet For Some, Never Enough

 

 

I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say that this year I’m likely to shoot AND access more data, more quickly and from more locations – than in all the years of my career to date – combined.

The resolution of my cameras (both still + video) keep increasing.   HDR is becoming common on both,  high frame rates are more common, and now:  Virtual Reality… we’re talking 6-14 camera arrays in many projects these days (!)

Why?

With Ultra HD (UHD) 4/5/6k video becoming the norm, and cheaper digital medium format stills systems becoming more affordable, we will need larger and more efficient storage systems than we did last year.   The prospect of UHD virtual reality is also becoming a possibility (for some, at least – maybe not in terms of consumption just yet, but definitely in terms of capture), and when you throw 6 Red EPIC Dragons together in an array, you could easily find yourself chewing through 100+ GB of data each minute.

This is why I’ve completely changed my data storage system as of last summer. I finally rid myself of a massive, $50,000+ server system that I’d be using for years. That thing ran so hot over our NYC summers that I found myself spending $700 a month in ConEd electric bills to keep the AC running just to keep it cool.

When I moved to LA five years ago, it was critical that I found a suitable location to house it. Fortunately, things have changed dramatically since then. G Tech’s Studio XL has revolutionized this as it’s a portable, efficient solution that does exactly what I need. I now have two systems set up across both coasts, with copies of everything, both hooked up to a Mac Mini to make them online 24/7 – and that I can also hook up to more powerful macs –  which provides remote access from anywhere, anytime.  Compared to what I had, the improved performance, size and affordability are revolutionary.

Integration With My On-The-Road Workflow

Integration on the road is also another reason I’ve moved to the Studio XL setup. The new way to travel for me is to use the G Drive EV, which are self powered, USB 3.0 drives. I’ll keep copies on my set of drives and my assistant always keeps back ups, so between us we have copies in separate locations at all times. When i get back to home base, I simply connect the EV to it’s dock and transfer via Thuderbolt to the XL. These little EV drives are a lightweight, portable and efficient self powered drive that integrates directly into the Studio XL.  I think of my G Drive EV as “magazines” or “cartridges” given how quickly I go through them. The new Rugged EV ATC drives are really nice with the added additional layer of protection against drops with the protective bumper system. Check out Lucas Gilman’s video at the end of this article that really puts this thing through it’s paces.

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I’ll use Shotput Pro to copy our data securely while on the road, and then back at the office, we use Chrono Sync or Carbon Copy Cloner to duplicate and synchronize data between systems.

How Much Space Should I Get?

We’re all shooting more, and shooting larger still and video files. There is incredible value in having more space on the drive than we need. We all get stuck with these drives that are 80% capacity before you know it, so I recommend that you make the investment early on and buy a larger drive up front, avoiding the data management juggle once drives start to get full. You should never have just one copy – one offsite copy for backup against flood or fire (several friends have had this happen to them – it can and does happen). You should ideally have copies that are kept on offline storage systems too. I always have two copies on two 24TB systems that are offline, which are not plugged into or connected to anything (I just make sure to spin them up every few weeks.)

For me, 24TB is a great starting point, especially for still photographers. But you need to figure out what your requirement is, and is likely to be. Figure out how much data you shot on the last few projects or this past year, take a guess of how many shoots you’ll do this year and multiply these up – then double that number. Doubling is realistic as we tend to underestimate data needs based on looking at files today, and not file sizes we’ll see in 12 or 24 months from now. That should give you a guide to your working annual storage requirement, which will help with the decision on what kind of capacity you might opt for in any storage system.

The good thing about the Studio XL is the choice on offer. They come in 24TB to 64TB storage capacities. It’s enterprise-class, 4K workflow support, with the ability to transfer data up to 1350MB/s and daisy chain via dual Thunderbolt ports. Should anything go wrong, there’s the additional 3 year warranty with unlimited free tech support which is always nice to have should you need it.

With all of this data comes another necessity: SPEED.   You need to be able to read it quickly to edit the files, and you also need to make the copies zippy so that you can get off of set and got to sleep.   Also, SPEED will ensure you make backups.    These files are becoming so big that it’s too easy to be caught cutting corners and forgetting to duplicate the data onto a SECOND backup drive, and to make a third copy back at base.    You will continue to cut these corners and use slower/older drives until you experience a loss or failure (has the power ever gone off during a copy?   Try fixing that…)   and then you’ll realize the MASSIVE liability losing part or all of the data you shot on a job.    There simply never is the option to re-shoot an entire job – no matter what insurance you have.   Even if you DO re-shoot, your reputation will be tarnished forever…

One must remember:   the DATA we produce, and the drives we stores them on:  our effectively our DIGITAL NEGATIVE.    While many of us started with slides or film negatives that we then scanned – we need to rid ourselves of the idea that the Data is something that is anything less than priceless to us…

On a personal note, G Tech hardware is amongst the most reliable gear I’ve ever used. While no one manufacturer is perfect (and always assume there is the possibility of failure due to impact, copying issues during power loss, corruption from editing software and so on), G Tech have proven time again that they’ve focused on the high end and demanding professional.

Don’t forget that while online storage is something that I DO USE, (see:  SugarSync,  CrashPlan, DropBox, GoogleDrive in that order (I use all of them)  having PHYSICAL control of your storage is something you simply can’t beat… just ask me where an 18-hour call w/ an online storage service ended up a half a decade ago:  nowhere…  once it’s gone on someone else’s server… it’s gone.

 

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G Tech offer more affordable options too, with lower capacity and slightly slower transfer rates in their G-SPEED Studio storage line, coming in with 12TB, 16TB and 24TB solutions, offering great options for those who still value security and portability highly.

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G Tech’s Description of the Studio XL:

Hardware RAID 8-Bay Thunderbolt 2 Storage Solution

G-SPEED Studio XL, a hardware RAID 8-Bay Thunderbolt 2 solution, offers professional content creators colossal capacity and high definition performance. This Enterprise-class storage solution with Thunderbolt 2 technology for ultimate speed is configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, & 60. Designed to support multi-stream compressed 4K workflows with extremely large volumes of data at transfer rates of up to 1350MB/s and has the ability to daisy-chain via dual Thunderbolt 2 ports.  The G-SPEED Studio XL features a sleek black enclosure, smart fan technology, Enterprise-class hard drives and a 3-year warranty – providing the ultimate storage solution for demanding video and photography based workflows.

G Tech Studio XL Product Page 

http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-speed-studio-xl

G Tech G-SPEED Studio Product Page

http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-speed-studio 

G Tech’s New ‘Rugged’ EV ATC Drives

http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-drive-ev-atc-thunderbolt

When Is It Available?

In stock now from B&H

Cost:

24TB – $3,599.95

32TB – $4,599.95

40TB – $4,999.95

48TB – $5,499.95

64TB – $6,999.95

Who Is It For?

Those who value a fast, quiet, portable, compact RAID solution. Those who need large scale, mobile (perhaps due to multi-site based working) storage solutions and who might be migrating away from large, cumbersome server-based enterprise storage solutions. 

 

Playing the “Long Game”

40

 

I turned 40 this week… and with that comes a lot of reflection. And truth be told: so far this upcoming decade looks to be PHENOMENAL.

Yet with that comes a little responsibility. At least in my opinion. So here goes:

There are a lot of readers of this blog. People of all ages, of all income types, and of all backgrounds and interests from all over the world.

To date, at least according to Google Analytics nearly 15,000,000 people have visited this blog. Let’s say even 10% of that is true:

 

Pretty cool.

 

To that end, I wanted to share only one thing I’ve learned, and it started with my job at The New York Times.

ALWAYS PLAY THE LONG GAME. NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS. IT WILL PAY OFF IN SPADES.

What I mean is, to be clear: I’ve been offered a lot of shortcuts along the way. And I’ll take any person up to task to take me up on the offer that I ever chose one over (what I least I perceived to be) the right thing to do…

And I think that’s important to hear … (ergo this post) and more importantly: to SAY.

Why?

Because this world has become all about shortcuts. About NOW.

An “Insta” something …

A “Let my BUY this NOW.” Let me learn this “NOW” and instantly “Master” it.

If you don’t see the thick irony of the guy that some others have termed “The Godfather of the HDSLR movement” (for better or for worse) telling you not to take shortcuts… well… think about it…

I used to worry that a light would fall on my head every time I stepped on a union set…

And then a very few short years later I became one of the guys complaining about “these young guys… yada yada yada..”

And this quickly taught me that the only constructive thing that I could possibly try to do,  was to share an mentor any of those who wanted to listen to my gibberish… and that that was realistically the best thing I could TRY to do…

Well… 10,000 hours still applies no matter what anyone sells you on in my opinion, for what’s that worth.

The best – and clearly not the most efficient way – for you to learn, is by trial an error.  Only then can you TRULY understand.

And that’s not to say that there isn’t incredible value in a good teacher that can save you a TON OF PAIN in trial and error…  But they can’t replace the discipline that that pain & stubbornness (or stupidity?)  causes you to adopt.

Far too many of us have seemed to have lost sight of the fact that anything we value, we value because of the hard work we put into it

I hate to sound preachy, but anything you value, is because it’s something you had to fight for.

The single scariest thing about the trends I see happening today is that we’re entering an age of “Good Enough” and not a pursuit of excellence and a singular obsession with dreaming wild and crazy things…

Too many these days seem to be satisfied with what a close friend of mine would term as, in an ever eloquent economy of words as: “Meh.”

I simply have none of the answers to these big questions, but I can tell you that at least in my own eyes an in my 40 years on this earth here’s what I’ve learned and am willing to share (clearly only to my own detriment) :

1. The happiness of your children is the most important thing in life – if you have them. Then come the people around you, if you don’t have children.

2. The health and happiness of your family comes next. Truth be told: you don’t get to pick your family… just sayin’

3. Your friends and relationships w/ others in your personal and business life are some of the most important things you will ever have.

So with that said, if I could impart one of the single most important lessons I’ve learned in these 40 years:

It’s that during my formative years as a very lucky to be hired photojournalist at The New York Times, the most venerable Newspaper to be around (arguably I’m sure) took 100+ years to build up its reputation… is that despite then TENS OF THOUSANDS of dedicated journalists lives that it took to build up that Newspaper over DECADES… that reputation was DECIMATED by two journalist in 1-2 years who destroyed her trust… (do your own research) By their opting to take shortcuts…

And what I learned from them was: NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS…

Doesn’t  take a genius now does it?  … Garbage in.. Garbage out.   Share something valuable… people will continue to listen.  Again:  FAR FROM ROCKET SCIENCE.  The term “obvious” or “logical” comes to mind…

So:

Take the long road… treat others as fairly as you can. ALWAYS CHOOSE THE DIFFICULT PATH – the “LONG GAME.” Even if you don’t, truly know why…

And, if I can be an example to a single one of you, I will say: playing the long game pays off in spades.

If not publicly, I can tell you it pays off professionally.

So for what’s that worth, as we all are offered new ways of cutting corners and getting “instant gratification” these days… I can share only one thing that may possibly of value to a few of you:

We only value the things we work hard for, and invest in… LONG TERM.

So with that said. I’m blessed to reach 40. To have two wonderful kids. And a family that’s despite its numerous best efforts is not completely screwed up just yet.  And truth be told I truly appreciate everyone of you reading this blog.

Sincerely – Vincent Laforet

p.s.: if this gives a SINGLE one of you the inspiration to take the tougher path… rather than the shortcut… It will make all the grief I receive for writing this very, very worthwhile.