These days it isn’t unusual to use several different cameras on a production, each with its own codecs and media. However, some media (such as P2 and SxS cards) can be too costly to archive, requiring users to offload content to a drive in order to reuse the media on the same shoot. Of course, the thought of accidentally erasing irreplaceable footage while wiping the media clean terrifies every cameraman and video producer.
The Nexto NVS2825 portable memory card backup system Skilled data wranglers may have high-tech solutions for this problem in connection with high-end productions, but smaller production companies need a reliable, universal, do-it-yourself system in lieu of those pricey and proprietary ones designed for a narrow range of cameras and media. The Nexto NVS2825 field storage-air portable memory card backup system offers such a solution.
Nexto’s NVS2825 is a high-capacity portable system for offloading, previewing and pre-editing up to 1 TB of video data. It supports exFAT and UDF file systems, which allows it to import files larger than 4 GB and work with MP 4, MOV, MXF, AVI and DV file formats, as well as MPEG-2, AVC, H.264, ProRes, DNxHD and DV codecs.
The unit itself is roughly the size of a small hardback book and has rubberized end caps to cushion the drive from shock and abrasion. The NVS2825 features two main buses for importing digital footage: there’s a PCMCIA slot for P2/P2E cards and an SxS card slot (which also facilitates importing audio video content recorded onto SD/SDHC/SDXC and CF cards via adapters included with the unit). The recorded content can be speedily output via USB or FireWire ports. A 2.5-inch LCD screen facilitates viewing of footage stored on the internal drive, an attached media card, or on an external USB drive, and it’s also handy for navigating the device’s menu.
The current firmware (v1.30) features three copy modes, “fast copy,” “copy and verify” and “safe copy.” “Fast copy” makes a new folder and copies all data from the memory card to this folder. “Copy and verify” does the same, but later compares all stored data to the original and verifies it bit-by-bit. “Safe copy” verifies that the next drive sector to be used has no bad sections and is ready for copying safely. If a bad sector is found, the NVS2825 finds a good sector before copying begins.
The unit lets you preview video from either the internal hard disk drive, an attached media card, or from an external USB hard drive via the built-in LCD monitor at speeds from slow-motion up to 64x real time. Clip directories can also be previewed via a phone, tablet or laptop via Wi-Fi. This allows you to do some basic pre-editing such as naming and describing selected clips, tagging them as acceptable or not, and prioritizing them. The NVS2825 also generates an html index file that can be transferred to an external drive along with the clips.
You can also connect the NVS2825 to another drive, laptop or desktop computer and copy files directly from the unit’s internal drive, as well as to an attached USB drive, or you can copy your media card to both the Nexto and an external USB drive simultaneously.
The NVS2825 also has a freefall sensor to warn you of potential data corruption or other damage due to sudden movement or vibration. Should the drive be inadvertently damaged, there’s a recovery feature that enables you to use clips even when there are disk sector errors. If a problem occurs during backup, the unit shuts down and displays an error message at the time of shutdown and upon the next bootup. A backup success/failure message about prior backup is also displayed upon booting up.
There are several ways to power the unit: a rechargeable internal battery, an AC power adaptor, a 12-Volt power plug for use in vehicles, bus power when the NVS2825 is connected to a computer, and also an external 12-Volt battery that straps to the unit.
The NVS2825 comes in several configurations including hard and solid-state drive versions and capacities of 750 TB and 1 TB. I tested the hard drive version.
I copied footage captured with several cameras using different file formats and media, starting with 1080p30 H.264 content captured to a CF card with a Canon EOS 7D, via the CF card adapter in the SxS bus. The NVS 2825 quickly detected the card, recognized and quantified the files and displayed their overall size. As soon as I selected the “copy and verify” mode, it scanned the CF card for errors and began copying after the scan. I could monitor the download in terms of the number of files copied versus the number remaining to be copied. It copied 2.65 GB in less than two minutes and verified a successful copy. I found that it shuts down after a couple of minutes of inactivity.
The procedure was much the same for my next several downloads, which included 720P/60, 1080p30/24, 720p30, 1080i footage captured to SD, SDHC, CF and P2 cards using DVCPRO HD, AVC HD, H.264 and HDV codecs. I used several different brand and model cameras from Canon, JVC, Panasonic and Sony. In all cases the NVS2825 recognized and backed up the data easily, quickly and accurately. I confirmed this by randomly selecting clips to preview on the LCD. My main disappointment was that most (except DVCPRO HD) clips didn’t playback at normal speed, but at lower frame rates, yielding jerky images. In some cases I was able to achieve nearly normal playback by tweaking playback speeds.
I didn’t encounter any problems until I tried copying 1080p30/24 footage shot with Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera, mainly in ProRes 422, but also with some captured RAW on a 64 GB SD card. I made numerous attempts but nothing seemed to work. Each time I tried, the NVS2825 simply shut down after flashing “unsupported file system.” I was able to copy this footage to a MacBook Pro while it was connected to the NVS2825 and the SD card was in the SxS SD card adapter with FireWire 800 connectivity. My hunch is that the NVS2825 could not recognize the RAW files on the card and shut down automatically as a safety precaution to prevent corrupting data.
After each shutdown, the error message re-appeared upon rebooting to warn against assuming that the data had been successfully copied and it was now OK to delete it and reformat the card.
I also triggered the “motion detector” a few times, with the unit displaying a “Warning, Do Not Shake” message. There was also a screeching sound as well. This made me stop immediately and stabilize the NVS2825 and its 750 GB SATA drive before proceeding. I can state that this alert system works very well, forcing me to make changes before any damage was done. (However, if you should drop the NVS2825, its “drop protection” shuts it off immediately, protecting the drive.)
I was pleasantly surprised at how fast and easy NVS2825’s multicopy feature worked, enabling content to be backed up to a second drive in one operation. In fact the procedure is much the same as for a single backup, once the second drive is attached and the multicopy option selected. This doubles the copying time, as the procedure is performed twice, in sequence. However, this is a minor price to pay for the convenience of having a protection copy after you hand off the original files and media at the end of the day.
My main fault with the NVS2825 is that when I connected it to a tablet or smartphone via Wi-Fi I was unable to preview the clips on the larger screen of the devices connected. I had presumed that I’d have the option to play back the clips on the larger screen; however, if this is feasible, it’s a well-kept secret not revealed by the user’s guide. I also wasn’t able to ascertain how to mark “in” and “out” points in the pre-editing mode, although I was able to identify good and bad clips and to name and add editorial notes about clips.
Nexto’s NVS2825 provides a high-capacity portable system for offloading, previewing and pre-editing data while you’re on location. Its fast, secure data downloads and backups—achievable with minimal supervision and opportunity for error— make it a valuable tool for a wide range of field shooting applications. Its data mirroring and rigorous verification procedures provides the high level of confidence and security needed to reformat and reuse one’s captured media after backing it up.
Carl Mrozek operates Eagle Eye Media, and specializes in wildlife and outdoor subjects. His work regularly appears on the Discovery Channel, The Weather Channel, CBS, PBS and other networks. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENG and EFP—especially projects with high shooting ratios
Fast, secure downloading and backup of most popular HD video file formats, pre-editing functions via tablets, laptops, smart phones, simultaneous copying to internal and external drives, variable speed preview, drop and shock protection
MSRP, $1,799 (HHD version) and $2,599 (SSD version)
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