7 Replies Latest reply on Dec 3, 2017 8:26 AM by warpigs666

    Best hard drive setup for animation videos?

    warpigs666 Level 1

      Hi. I am self-taught at many of the Adobe programs and I know them pretty well, working in a low level professional design capacity. I have probably read a hundred threads and watched dozens of videos on what I'm asking but I'm still unclear as there seems to be conflicting options on a few things:


      I make short animated videos. They can last anywhere from 1 minute to 30 mins. They are typically made up of the following: complex Illustrator and Photoshop files which are then brought into After Effects and animated. After that they are exported to .h264 files which are imported into Premiere. In Premiere they are combined with AVCHD video files and WAV audio files. I typically use Dynamic Link to make further edits to the video in AE and to add titles/effects/etc. Then I export an .h264 file using Media Encoder.


      I am working on a 2012 Macbook Pro running CC2017 and OSX Sierra. It has two USB ports and one Thunderbolt port. I am currently running everything off my internal C drive and when at home I keep it plugged into a Thunderbolt port and backing up via Time Machine to a USB hard drive. The CPU is 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 and the graphics is stock Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536MB, and the computer has a 1TB 7200RPM drive with 500GB filled and I've upgraded the memory to 16GB.


      I have been doing this for long time and I know that there are better ways to setup my system. My main concerns are the amount of time it takes to export files and that After Effects is so slow to preview everything and seems to reload everything each time that I make the smallest change. I understand that there are ways to speed that up but I'm wondering what my best path is considering monetary limitations etc.


      My current plan and questions:


      I understand that things such as project files, source media, scratch disks, caches, auto saves, and exports should all ideally be on separate hard drives, but since that's not realistic I'm wondering what the best setup is. I have read the generic setup post in the hardware forum among many others, but I'm still confused as to best practices. As I see it there are three factors: portability, redundancy, and performance. So,


      - Is running everything off of my C drive shortening the life of my computer?


      - I understand that there is a performance advantage to storing some files on external hard drives when working, but at what point does that reach the point of diminishing returns? In my experience transferring large folders from my C drive to an external drive it takes a long time, I don't understand how constantly moving things from one drive to another doesn't result in SLOWER performance. If I had three external hard drives plugged into my computer wouldn't that slow things down significantly and counter act any speed increases? Or am I just not understanding how computers work?


      - Would it be better to invest in an external graphics card than several external hard drives?


      - As I understand it, every time I try to play a preview of my composition in After Effects it takes time to load because it has to queue up a preview, which I have to wait to load into the RAM in order to watch it. I read that I should save my After Effects cache on an external disc in order for AE to save the preview that it just played so that I can make small adjustments and it won't take so long to queue up a preview each time. Why does it load up into the RAM now? Isn't the RAM needed for other things? Why can't I just point the cache to my C drive?


      - For the type of work I'm describing, would a solid state drive be better than a thunderbolt drive, or would it be the other way around?


      - Is it also better to be working off external hard drives for Illustrator and Photoshop work?


      - Is it much more important to work off of a powered external drive instead of a usb powered external drive?


      Thanks for any advice you can offer.

        • 2. Re: Best hard drive setup for animation videos?
          warpigs666 Level 1

          Ok well I just got off a long phone call with Adobe tech support and was told my the rep and also a "senior technician" that everything should be kept on my internal hard drive, and that I should only keep my footage an an external drive if I run out of space. I asked if reading and writing to the same drive doesn't affect performance and they said no, that things run BETTER if everything is read/written on the same drive, and that the things on the forum threads and support videos are wrong. What the hell is that all about?? They were adamant that everything (project files, caches, scratch, auto save, exports, footage) should be kept on my internal drive. Can someone help me understand?

          • 3. Re: Best hard drive setup for animation videos?
            warpigs666 Level 1

            Could any mods possibly chime in as to why when I call tech support they say threads like this are completely wrong: Generic Guideline for Disk Setup


            The first message you get when calling tech support is to check out the forums, then when I speak with anyone they say the forums are wrong....

            • 4. Re: Best hard drive setup for animation videos?
              RjL190365 Level 5

              Their tech support doesn't know much about what works best. You see, putting everything on the OS drive slows down performance severely, and may also make Premiere's operation unstable. (And I have confirmed this with my own extensive testing, which with everything on the OS drive resulted in an exporting time of a whopping several hours for each minute of 480i video versus less than a minute with the media and projects separated onto a different drive from the OS and programs, and the crashes occurred much more frequently with everything on the OS drive versus a separate media and projects disk.) The OS drive should have only the OS and programs, never any media or projects.


              Unfortunately, putting everything on the internal OS drive will restrict the disk I/O performance to only 32 MB/second due to all the OS maintenance operations being performed on that same drive. That's way below the performance capability of even a lousy 5400 RPM laptop hard drive, let alone a SATA SSD, these days.


              With that said, Thunderbolt hard drives will never even come close to fully utilizing the maximum real-world throughput of the interface. In fact, their maximum physical transfer rate of less than 130 MB/second (for laptop-class hard drives) will be the limiting factor. By contrast, SSDs can sustain at least 400 MB/second even through a USB 3.0 connection.

              • 5. Re: Best hard drive setup for animation videos?
                warpigs666 Level 1

                Thanks for the reply. I am still not over the mind-bogglingly advice I got from Adobe tech support today. They didn't just say it was ok to run everything off my laptop's internal drive, they said it was BETTER. I had to be transferred to a senior tech because I couldn't believe it. I still don't know what to think now, their advice makes no sense.


                Anyways, so would I notice much of an improvement if I kept everything on an external bus-powered SSD USB 3 drive and only ran the OS and programs on my laptops internal HDD? In that scenario where would you recommend keeping the project files and After Effects cache?

                • 6. Re: Best hard drive setup for animation videos?
                  warpigs666 Level 1

                  Ok i discovered that I was wrong about my internal drive, it's only 5400. So I'm going to make some upgrades. Here's my plan:


                  Replace internal drive with 1TB ssd

                  Move current 5400 HDD to DVD bay

                  Purchase external 250GB SSD USB 3.0


                  On internal SSD: OS, programs, project files

                  On internal HDD: Source media, exports

                  On external SSD: Caches, conformed media, auto saves, previews, scratch disk


                  Anyone can offer advice?

                  • 7. Re: Best hard drive setup for animation videos?
                    warpigs666 Level 1

                    Anyone have any thoughts on the setup I just described? This forum is my last hope  now that I know adobe's tech-support is useless...