3 Questions for Gary Adcock on Accelerating Data Transfer with Thunderbolt

Posted on May 22nd, 2015

As one of the industry’s leading digital imaging technicians (DIT), Gary Adcock is the guy to watch when it comes to integrating new technology and cutting edge filmmaking processes. With the rate of technological advancement, Adcock thinks of cameras today as simply computers with lenses in front. This transformation has had a tremendous impact on the motion picture and television industry, and is why he also thinks today is such an exciting time to be a filmmaker.

As a DIT, Adcock’s role is to handle data, whether it’s from the cameras or in post-production, and make sure that it is kept in pristine condition. Using the latest technology, he has found major competitive advantages that save both time and resources.

We caught up with Adcock to get his advice on workflow and how technology like Thunderbolt improves his business.

Thunderbolt: What’s the best method for architecting workflows?

Adcock: Architecting a workflow is not just handling the data in front of me. It’s how that data is handled. Workflows actually starts with a discussion about where it is going to be used. Technology is an interesting thing. If you don’t know where or what the end point is, it’s really hard to build something that’s efficient or cost effective. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building an automobile or a data workflow pipeline for a television series. They’re no different. You have to know what you’re building towards to make the right decisions.

Thunderbolt: How has Thunderbolt made a difference in your workflow?

Adcock: I use Thunderbolt because it allows me to have everything from a desktop in a portable case that I can carry around. At 1.2 gigabytes a second on a laptop, there’s few desktops that can keep up with that at the same price range. I can take a Mac or PC laptop, plug in a LaCie Little Big Disc 2 on Thunderbolt 2 and consistently maintain a gigabyte a second as a workflow. On a laptop, that’s impressive. It’s ridiculously impressive. And in a solid state world when you’re working on location, that speed, that ability to work across multiple devices, the daisy chain; it’s not something you could do with USB devices.

And the power that Thunderbolt gives me just allows me to do so many more things in a smaller, more compact way. It allows me to be more efficient. Efficiency is time and money and getting home to my family. That’s what Thunderbolt means to me; it makes my life more efficient.

Thunderbolt: What’s an example of how Thunderbolt makes you more efficient?

Adcock: A perfect real world project was actually the glass video that was done for Intel. It’s a perfect example of how a properly handled Thunderbolt workflow can accelerate a day’s shooting. It was a fairly small crew, about 20 people. We moved 2.8 terabytes of raw camera data, made four redundant backup copies, and the camera operator and data handler walked off set 54 minutes after we called wrap. Which means, he spent another 30 minutes handling data and everything else. This is someone who handles data from cameras like that all the time. He was expecting to be there for another four to six hours.

So a properly designed workflow could easily shed 25 percent of your time. And that’s actually a number I used on a regular basis while working for the USA Networks’ series, Sirens. My Thunderbolt workflow probably cut 25 to 30 percent in my overtime while working on set. So a 25 percent decrease in my time, meaning the additional time to do things, all because I designed a workflow that was very efficient. Who doesn’t want to reduce their already lengthy work day?

Tags: 4K content, 4K monitor, 4K resolution, 4K video, 4K workflows, 8K video, digital imaging technician, DIT workflow, filmmaking workflow, Gary Adcock, Intel Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt workflows, video workflow