There is a lot of interpretation open in this little short film. However one thing is clear: being another cog in the wheel of life is the worst way to live.
So last year it came to that point in my career that I was just running out of space. All the time. It didn’t help that every time I filled up another external HDD, I’d just go & buy another one. My desk eventually had 6 external Western Digital HDD’s which I had to run into a 10-port USB hub, into my Macbook Pro. It worked, yet was rather messy. Not to mention I had my data backup up, but it was getting harder & harder to keep track of file duplicates.
I have been using the same file structure on my file backups for a very long time. It was a merge between Chase Jarvis’ system of using chronological structure & my own method of file & folder naming. I’ll get into that a bit later.
RAID is something that always scared me. How did it work? Why does it have to be so complicated? What are all these RAID numbers about? Why this price tag!? You know those moments in life when you hype something up so much in your head, and then you get to the day when you actually DO said-thing and it’s nowhere near the notion? Yeah, well getting a RAID setup is one of those things.
This post is mostly for those of you who feel the same way I did and are in the same position as myself. So much data, so much effort to keep it all well stored. And I’m happy to say, in the background I’ve helped a couple people take the plunge. My good photographer friend in LA, Webb Bland is one of them. I held his hand as he went through the process. It helps knowing that someone did it before you.
Now for those of you who have rolling in ‘hunnets’ this is an easy thing for you. You walk into a store & buy a Drobo. Chose how much space you want & part with your money without flinching. If you’re counting your pennies, you can still get a fantastic RAID setup for considerably less. This was my method.
You need something to house your RAID HDD’s. There are many brands who make units like this, but one brand stands out for me: Synology. A friend of mine who works in the IT infrastructure setup world swears by Synology. After doing extensive reading on what their units do technically, it was an easy choice. I had *almost* pulled the trigger on buying a (very cheap) unit from another brand, but fortunately I double checked the transfer read/write speeds -shockingly bad. Crisis averted there!
Once you’ve decided on your Synology housing unit, you need to fill that with physical HDD storage. Now depending on which Synology unit you go for, you need to get either 2, 4 or 6 HDD’s. Now personal history has me put my faith in Western Digital as a brand. I know this is one of those things where every person will tell you differently based on their experience. Unfortunately mine has been Seagate = failed drives. Western Digital = happy drives that last years & years. Now WD makes a series of HDD’s specifically for RAID setups. Isn’t that convenient! They’re called the WD RED series. They’re a lower RPM range (the disks spin slightly slower than conventional HDDs), but built like tanks. They’re meant to be used in servers that are running 24/7. So I got 4x 4TB WD REDs for my Synology unit.
That is the hard part. All the homework goes into knowing what combination you need for your purposes. The rest is really easy! Now RAID is defined as, “Redundant Array of Independent Disks. A data storage virtualisation technology that combines multiple physical disk drive components into a single logical unit for the purpose of data redundancy, performance improvement, or both.” The concept of data redundancy is that you never lose data, should a HDD fail. So your data is spanned over multiple physical disks, while the RAID system does its sorcery in the background to make sure that your data is never isolated, thus lost.
There is a little bit of maths involved in RAID. So for example, I bought 4x 4TB = 16TB of physical data. However, we need that thing called redundancy, so you don’t get all 16TB of storage. RAID reserves a portion for it’s redundancy & gives you the balance. Now in modern Synology RAID systems, you get something called “Hybrid RAID” or SHR. It is “an automatic RAID management system from Synology, designed to make storage volume deployment quick & easy”. Basically, this system takes 1/4 of your available space & uses this to make your “hybrid redundancy”. So for mine specifically, my 16TB of physical space becomes 12TB of usable storage space. This makes the different RAID structures (RAID0, RAID1, RAID5, etc) obsolete. I didn’t know this when I bought my Synology unit, but has been one of many incredible features to Synology.
Installing the 4 HDD’s into the Synology unit is a piece of cake. Each HDD has it’s own drive bay which just clips in. These trays just slide into the Synology unit. It’s impossible to get it wrong because everything can only go in one way.
I need to add something in here before we continue. Synology makes units that are meant to be used as a network based server/storage/NAS unit. So when I bought the unit, I didn’t realise that the connection port for I/O would be ethernet. I’m pretty sure I read it, but it didn’t register in my head. There ARE USB ports on the DS414, but these are for adding extra external USB drives, should you wish. If you’re going to be using your RAID unit on a PC that has an extra Ethernet port, then you’re ready to rock-n-roll immediately. If you’re like me, who uses one of the new(er) Macbook Pro’s that have no ethernet ports, then you’re in for one more $2 purchase. You’re going to need a Ethernet-to-USB3 dongle. I bought mine on eBay for about $2 I think. Be careful that you’re buying a USB3 (!!) dongle & not USB or USB2. This WILL become the bottleneck in your data transfer and you will wonder why your backups are taking forever. That is my disclaimer.
Moving onto powering up the unit, you’ll connect to it like you would a router or remote device: by IP. Your quick start guide in the box will give you this IP. The setup is automatic prompt-type. The Synology system will format the HDD’s in the correct file structure & your Hybrid RAID setup in one go. Once you’ve run through it all, you’ll be greeted with Synology’s virtual desktop for your RAID. Here you can go wild by installing server services, streaming services, hosting options, you name it. I feel like I could be using my DS414 for so many things, but use it for 1% of what it can do. But in my case, it is there for 100% work data storage, so I’m not interested in the list of things it can do.
I like the idea of plugging my NAS unit into my Macbook Pro with 1x USB cable & having access to every single work file I’ve ever created. This is what this system offers me. Again, I could use my DS414 as a wireless RAID unit, but I’ve never even gotten around to being that fancy. Now for my MBP, I enabled “Simple File System” in the settings somewhere. Basically this allows me to “mount” my NAS unit as I would a USB external drive. The bonus is that I can login/password protect my unit. So my data is both safe AND I have file redundancy.
Because I’m only writing this blog about my NAS unit over a year later, I can say that it has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made for my data. It has been the most rock solid, FAST and reliable setup on a budget. At the moment, I’m sitting on 9TB of 12TB used. When I hit the 12TB mark, Synology has a daisy-chain setup. So I just purchase another unit, link the two with an Ethernet cable & carry on like normal. It couldn’t be simpler.
I think this blog post has been long enough, so I’ll save how I handle my file structure to the next post.
EDIT: Synology is constantly updating their product range. It appears that the DS414 unit is no longer available & has been replaced with an updated DS416 unit.
A beautiful film from Volvo. So incredibly natural with insane atmosphere.
Something I seldom do, or let me rather say, have the time to do, is post things that REALLY stand out to me. I’ve sat myself down & gave a stern talking. Yes, once again I had allowed myself to get so distracted with the urgent, it overshadowed the important.
So that said, I’m going to try make a point of just quickly posting things on the blog that either really caught my eye and do a blog post on jobs as often as possible. I wouldn’t want you thinking I had fallen off the planet & wasn’t shooting on a super regular basis. :)
Let’s begin with this one that literally blew me away. The compositions especially mixed with the deep light/shadow play is just sublime. It’s not very often you come across work that is this strong -especially from a teenager. It does go to show that it really is all about the eye behind the camera. Fan Ho, the photographer, arrived in Shanghai in 1949. He was fascinated with the street life of Shanghai, which set him apart, as the norm was studio photography. You can find more of his work here: Fan Ho : A Hong Kong Memoir
For someone who lives at the tip of Africa, I actually get to see a lot of the world in my work travels. Travels I worked my entire career to have. If you asked me at the start of the year if I saw myself ever getting to see the most remote corners of China… I’d have thought you crazy. Well, fools on me this time. I’ve recently wrapped up one of the most incredible journeys I’ve EVER done in my career with Ford and their new Ford Everest.
Shanghai, Beijing, Xinjiang, Urumqi, Hami, Nanchang, Shihezi, Kuytun. These are just some of the many places I got to see. From as far East to West to North as the China borders go, we went. I was told we did over 10,000km in travel within China over 2 weeks. So yeah, we racked up some serious travel miles. The only way I would be to describe it: mind-blowing. Not only are the natural landscapes of China as vast & surrealistically beautiful as people like to call South Africa, it is just SO different to anything I’ve ever experienced. Culturally & traditions endlessly fascinating. Old world mixed with new. People. People everywhere.
Our campaign was geared towards showing the Ford Everest in the most epic scenery. ‘The most capable Ford yet’ being the slogan. Things are always organic to a degree on shoots. Certain things change as the travel & locations reveal themselves in that moment. Everything is pre-scouted, so there is no guesswork on what we’re going to do. However sometimes things just, work, that wasn’t part of the original plan. Our 6KVs did change a slight bit because we had so many regions to cover & different things appeal to different regions. However it will always be the strongest material to show off the capabilities of our vehicle.
So here are our 6 final hero images & below is a compilation of behind-the-scenes which were kindly sent to me by my assistant & producer. What a blast! I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
6 Final KVs
Behind The Scenes:
Passion projects. The lifeblood of every creative. Neglect them and you soon find yourself seeing a very lacklustre world around you. With Star Wars Episode 7, The Force Awakens around the corner, this fanboy has Star Wars on the brain. It has been quite a long year of commercial work around the world, I was getting that lacklustre feeling about the work I was producing. I was creating great stuff, but it wasn’t ‘mine’.
Over a month ago, prep for this shoot began. It was hours of trawling the internet for reference images, concept art, lightsaber hilt designs. I then began trying to source props, wardrobe, small little elements that would bring it all together. The hunt for my Jedi began. I had an overwhelming response to a simple request: “I’m doing a Star Wars personal project, who wants to be involved?”. I knew however that with the amount of work (and personal money *cough*) I was throwing into this project, it couldn’t be a massive cast. In my mind I only saw it working with 3-5 talent -much like the hero characters in a movie. The talent came from as far as 1600km away to be involved. True Star Wars fans. Exactly what I wanted.
I’m very happy to finally share the first initial round of images from this set: Jedi Portraits. Please feel free (actually, it would be great if you did) to share this as much as possible & share the Star Wars love!
ps: Dear J.J. Abrams – I want to work with you!
Jedi: Clen, Davis, Allan & Colin
Photography: Seagram Pearce
Post Production: Seagram Pearce
BEHIND THE SCENES:
As you learn the hard way being a photographer, the natural progression that it is, you tend to only show one, perhaps two images from a shoot. You learn to be insanely selective when it comes to what you feel is the best presentation from that body of work. I think over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at this & often during the shoot I’ll know when ‘that’ shutter slams closed which is my frame to keep.
Then you get days where you are fortunate enough to work with a talent that far exceeds your own (this is a lot in the beginning days & you become more demanding of yourself & your shoot as time goes by, so it feels more special later on). I found one of these days while shooting the 2015 KIA campaign at the brink of the new year rolling around. The Artist. Mark Johnson (actors name). Perhaps his occupation for the day resonated with me. The perfect combination of actor, location, light, ambiance, art dept and something clicking (haha literally too) together within me. Shooting with people is something I enjoy more than I give myself credit for. The connection for that brief amount of time is like Neo in The Matrix who learns martial arts in one blistering session of intensity. You spend a few moments with your subject & in that time before you have to start shooting, this person has to go, “hey, I trust you enough to let go”. Forced trust & friendship into an hour or two. It’s magical stuff when it happens organically.
In any case, the point of this blog was to share all MY favourites of The Artist with you. Seldom does ‘everything work’ on a shoot. Actually, it virtually never happens except in these rare moments that give you a body of work that you just cannot whittle down to a mere one or two.
I hope you enjoy these. Leave a comment if you did.
Actor: Mark Johnson
Post Production: Seagram
Client: KIA EU
JAGUAR F-TYPE COUPE
–by Seagram Pearce
Anyone who lives in Cape Town knows what it is like driving through town. The grid layout is a never-ending start-stop procession. There is the slow irritation of traffic thrown in the same bag of needing to be somewhere urgently. What if, for a minute, this was the same place, yet, instead of seething contempt, you relished in mechanical gargles, roars, and throaty blipping sounds. Combine this with luxury and an exceptionally on-point fitted design of a red leather interior. Suddenly we’re talking about a completely different experience for our day.
We all want to feel special in some way. For some of us, it is when your song comes on the radio and you find yourself head-banging like a rockstar. Yet, this time, I’m referring more to getting inside a car and instantly feeling like it is a special place to be. Your invitation to the Secret Gentleman’s Club – every day. Let me introduce you to one of the finest creations to come from the Jaguar laboratory of magical-stuff engineering: the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R.
Visually, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R is both beautiful and brutal. It has a design that demands attention from all eyes – be it the petrol attendant who whistles when you pull in, the guy riding his bicycle down Sea Point Promenade, that woman out for her morning jog or the businessman next to you at the traffic lights who thought he had the vehicle of choice until 10 seconds ago. The design features, such as the elongated nose, draw much from the Jaguar E-Type which was so iconic for its time, it rightly earned the trophy as most beautiful car in the world. So Jaguar know a thing or two about design and I’m pleased that they haven’t lost the art over the years, especially in today’s cookie-cutter fashion.
Granted, I never actually got around to lifting the very elongated hood. However, what has been crammed into the engine bay is large, loud, brutal V8 power, and it is ever so thirsty. Jaguar’s 5.0L V8 engine doesn’t leave you feeling lacking when you put your foot down. In fact, if you’re not careful, a hard floor stomp will turn you into a human cannonball…a most willing repeat customer for the canon shoot event, I might add. It unleashes 550 BHP, or for us locals a stomach wrenching 410 kW and 680 Nm Torque. To petrol-heads, those kinds of figures are like telling your kid he can grab as much candy his little arms can hold… and then some.
The Jaguar F-Type comes with various modes for your driving style. Situated in your centre console like the flip switch to the nuclear launch, is your driving mode button. Starting her up defaults to standard driving mode which is a nice balance between throttle response, suspension softness and general riding comfort. The V8’s unmistakable engine sound has been crafted into something else all together. I can guarantee you the first 500 times you hit the pulse-throbbing (yes, it actually does have a pulse glow rhythm), glowing ‘start’ button you’ll take a moment to appreciate the mechanical opera you’ve gotten a front row ticket to. It’s intoxicating! Jaguar has designed, crafted and mastered one of the most beautiful sounding vehicles in the world. If there is one thing I cannot convey with enough expletives, it’s how this car sounds. At this point, its worth mentioning that when you think nothing could get better, it does. Flipping your driving mode switch down into Dynamic Sports Mode unlocks all sorts of illegal-feeling driving fantasies. Your dial clusters turn red, and your suspension stiffens. What you thought was the most beautiful exhaust tone now becomes two octaves lower by opening butterfly valves in the exhaust. You’ve invited the devil to dinner, and he brought friends.
Granted, all I did with the Jaguar F-Type at first was convert petroleum into one long permanent grin on my face. The rear wheel drive feels precise and you feel solidly connected to the tar below you. You can feel the precise design in cornering, and pushing the limits in safe track environments is all kinds of fun. Yet, we know the British for their refinement, class and distinction. So what about the open road? Engaging normal (or comfort) mode lets the automatic 8-speed gearbox take over. The open road ahead becomes a remarkably comfortable journey. Honestly, I was not expecting this tar and rubber-devouring animal to become my silky coach. This proves that the F-Type works as an all-round vehicle, not just an expensive track toy.
It was difficult parting ways with this vehicle. At the end of the week I had wrapped up two filming days and two shoot days. I spent every other moment relishing the time I had bonding with Jaguar’s finest offering. While money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R, which is pretty much the same thing.
I realised that I had in fact forgotten to do a long standing tradition of reviewing a year in retrospect to see what had been done in those 12 months. I had actually put all the content together, but gotten so distracted with how busy 2015 has started off. I also decided to do something new for this blog. I very seldom share any travel images that I shoot while traveling on assignment. 2014 saw loads of travel to some awesome locations, so I’ve added in a few of those just to mix things up a bit. I always have these grand ideas to put together a nice solid selection of travel images, but never seem to get a moment to do it. Perhaps 2015 might be the year for that, who knows. :)
So I’m also going to just add a highlight review of 2014 in no particular calendar month order because I’ve realised it doesn’t actually matter either. It’s the year in review, not month.
So here we go! The year Twenty Fourteen:
I’ll be honest, I have oddly been waiting for this one for a couple months. As always, it’s been rumours upon rumours hinting at what *might* be. Now this isn’t because I’ve found my Nikon D800E to be disappointing. Not one tiny bit! The D800E has gone around the world with me several times in the last couple years & has shot everything from editorials to large print campaigns in the Dubai deserts, mountains of Spain, skyscrapers of New York & faux-glam Hollywood. I’ve even filmed a fair amount with it too. I’ve put my D800E through it’s paces & it has delivered every single time. I would easily say it’s one of the best cameras I’ve ever owned.
So why am I excited about a replacement to a perfectly good (near perfect 35mm system) camera? Well, we always want more don’t we? Yeah, we’re unsatisfiable that way. Damn us. Pretty excited to see this morning that Nikon has launched the D810. I’ll mention a few highlights for me & if you want a super technical rundown, the boys at DPReview are always riding that pony.
- 36.3MP Full-frame CMOS sensor (no AA filter)
- ISO 64-12,800 (expands to ISO 32-51,200)
- Electronic first-curtain shutter and redesigned mirror mechanism
- Expeed 4 engine
- Max 5fps shooting in FX mode, 7fps in DX (with battery grip + EN-EL18 / AA batteries)
- 3.2in 1,229k-dot RGBW LCD screen with customizable color
- ‘Split screen zoom’ display in live view allows horizons/lines to be leveled precisely
- 51-point AF system with new ‘Group Area AF’ mode (inherited from D4S)
- 1080p @50/60fps
- Zebra strips for focus checking in video mode
- Uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous recording to memory card
- Built-in stereo microphone
Now suddenly it becomes very evident that they’ve taken what the D800E is & made it what the videographers have wanted all along. I know I felt the limitations of the D800E when it came to filming specifically. No uncompressed footage, no full HD @ 50fps, no zebra strips. Albeit these are all things that were possible by hacking your body & making use of things like Magic Lantern. But for those of us who didn’t want to go that route it was a little frustrating to do without.
Nikon says launch is the latter half of July 2014. I’ve already put my order in for one & look forward to giving you a more hands on review when I get my paws on it.
External links: DPReview