Building an Online Suite: Early Messy Progress

Today I went to my new online room and started piecing things together. A lot of my gear has arrived, and now I’m just waiting on the major pieces of equipment from my reseller, and the desk. The desk will be the very last thing to arrive (end of January), so it’s going to look crappy for now while I use a temporary desk.

And here it is:

Wide view of temporary editing desk
Preliminary editing setup

What a mess. Here you can see the small, temporary desk I’m using for now, and the two Samsung desktop monitors. I also need room for the grading monitor and scopes. You can also see the chair I got, which is a used Aeron I scored today. I’ve resisted Aerons for a long time because I felt they were the symbol of all that was wrong with the dot-com era. But that was the year 2000, and 8 years later everyone still recommends the Aeron so I broke down and finally gave in. What I really like is that it has a feature that lets you either lock the back upright or allow you to recline. While I’m working I can lock the chair, and when I view cuts I can recline. Ahhhh.

You can also see a stuffed penguin1 and some other desk tchotchkes.

The RAID

8TB RAID, with one spare drive
Lifezero RAID and accessories

This is my LifeZero RAID, echoblack variation. It consists of a ProAvio Editbox 8MS, 8 1TB drives, and a RocketRaid 3522 hardware RAID card2. The target price for a LifeZero RAID is 2K$, but I decided it was ok to go a little higher than that by getting better-quality drives. The drives I bought are 1TB Hitachi 7K1000’s, which has a reputation as being a benchmark high-performance drive even though it’s a couple years old.

I also bought one extra drive as a spare. If a drive dies in a few years, it’ll be next to impossible to find the same model of drive so I would probably have to get something “similar” and hope everything works out ok. Instead, by spending an extra 110$ on a drive now, I have a nice insurance policy that should help extend the life of the RAID.

I ripped open all the packages, screwed the drives onto their rails, and inserted them into the enclosure. Even though I don’t have a computer to connect it to, I powered it up just to see what would happen. It did not explode. All the lights lit up and it’s extremely quiet. This is going to be fun!

Other bits and pieces

Aside from the RAID, I also took care of some little issues. The free couch I got was looking a little dirty, so I ripped off the cushions so I can wash them. They’re in the drier now 🙂

couch with removed cushions
laundry day, or pillow fight aftermath?

There’s also a window near the ceiling letting in ugly fluorescent light from the rest of the office, so I blocked that with a hi-tech rectangle of cardboard. It’s not as hideous as it sounds:

cardboard blocking a window
Sophisticated light blocking device

The room is still a mess, but I can start to see the editing suite underneath it all. Within a week or two I should get all of my equipment delivered, and then I can really start to set things up.

  1. more on that in a later post []
  2. I’ll post a more complete analysis of the RAID once I get the rest of the system []
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Designing an online edit suite: An alternative desk

My last post was a good attempt at brainstorming how my new video editing desk should look. Unfortunately, the guy at Home Depot constructed the quote incorrectly, and didn’t include a 7.50$ charge for every linear foot of countertop for finishing the edges. Using the correct numbers, my previous design would cost 400$ more than I thought.

That put the price was back up to 1000$, which is just too high for a self-built desk. It was time to rethink the complicated concept of the strangely-shaped desk with wings. I recently went back to Powderhouse to do some work in their online suite where they just have a basic rectangular desk that’s 7 feet wide and 3 feet deep with a riser. I’ve been using that desk for close to four years now, and despite the square shape it works well.

The only problem with that desk is I can’t rotate the CC monitor as far as I’d like. It’s an older CRT model1, and CRT monitors are big, heavy cubes. The riser is 18” deep, but even that depth isn’t enough to rotate the monitor properly. As I spin the monitor, the feet on the bottom quickly fall off the edges of the riser. I won’t have that problem in my suite because my CC monitor will be a shallow LCD panel on a swiveling base. I went home and created a new, simpler design nearly identical to what I’d been using at Powderhouse. Using the new, more accurate numbers I had from Home Depot, I got a total price of $600 or so.

About this time, another option presented itself. Char told me that just up the road was a furniture liquidators store — they have thousands of square feet of warehouse space and buy old cubes and desks from companies for reselling. Although standard office furniture doesn’t work right for me, the company also fulfills custom quotes. I took a short drive up the street2 and worked with the nice woman at the warehouse to draw up a design. What I got back was just what I wanted — the desk I’d been using all this time:

Custom desk design
Custom desk design

The price was higher than the Home Depot + Ikea option, but not by much, and I wouldn’t have to attach the legs or construct the riser myself. I only had a vague plan for nailing lengths of shelving together to make the riser, so having it included was a big plus. Furthermore, it’s a real desk, not a homebrew combination of countertops, legs, and lumber. It will be all black with matching legs. So I ordered the custom desk. It won’t be ready until the end of January, but it’ll be worth the wait.

Eventually I will need at least one side desk, but I’ve decided I can wait until the last minute to buy it. Unlike huge, editing-specific desks, small desks are a dime a dozen and can be had everywhere. When I need one, I’ll stop by Staples or Ikea and get it.

  1. “Older” does not mean “out of date.”CRT monitors are still considered the best for color correction because they produce extremely dark blacks, but they just aren’t manufactured any more. []
  2. it was very cold, or else I could have walked []
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