GNARBOX is pushing the frontier of simple on-set download with their release with a host of features that filmmakers crave.
Combining a hard drive with an SD card slot, and having the SD card download directly to the hard drive, seems so simplE and intuitive. Shoot to card, plug the card into the reader, and BAM, downloads. But, of course, it's much more complicated than we think involving the creation of software and an interface to make it a truly pain free experience for busy filmmakers who just want to know their footage is safe.
GNARBOX has been working hard to make that workflow as simple as possible, with the original GNARBOX showing a lot of promise for what a combined reader/drive system could do. With the new GNARBOX 2.0, which was announced at NAB in April and is shipping today, the ecosystem evolves tremendously into a device that offers checksum verified backup, audio previews, SSD speeds, and best of all, multiple simultaneous backups.
We had some hands on time with the original GNARBOX and while we were impressed with the concept and the functionality (and the promise it holds for iPad editing in the future), it felt more targeted towards still photographers than filmmakers. That is definitely something that is changing with the 2.0, which we have now had some time to play with in anticipation of todays release. With more features filmmakers want, and massive speed gains from the SSD, this feels like a tool that many filmmakers will consider as part of their arsenal on small, fast moving jobs where setting up a laptop just isn't feasible. To be clear, this is a device focused mostly on the SD card and CFast arena of cameras; yes, you can attach any card reader you want to it's USB-C port, but for bigger Alexa and RED jobs a dedicated DIT station is likely more in order.
That said, we could imagine a time where attaching a USB-C RED MiniMag reader would save us in a pinch to be sure we got our media downloaded while working with a small team or solo.
Even on those bigger jobs, where you have a dedicated DIT station, it's very common for the director to have their own S1H or XH1 shooting both behind the scenes and occaisional C-camera angles on the scene. While that might not be "A-camera footage," you still want to be sure you are backing it up. Maybe it'll make the edit, maybe it'll be used as BTS for the social campaign, but you definitely want to have a copy of it.
SD cards are currently part of the workflow on production, and will likely remain so for a long time. With the huge explosion in mirrorless cameras, there are going to be jobs where SD is the main card you are shooting. Yes, when you have the manpower and gear to setup a full DIT station that is great, but if you are going out to shoot something solo, whether it's B-roll and establishers on a drone and your personal camera, or an entire project, being able to back that media up quickly is important.
That's the beauty of GNARBOX 2.0. You stick in your SD card, use the on-screen interface and the four buttons to navigate very simple menus, and you can backup your card. Users can also tether it to your phone to get a more robust interface, but phone tethering is a bonus, not an essential. With just the box itself, which has it's own battery, you are completely free to make sure your cards are backed up. Say you are standing in a swamp, shooting B-roll and establishers, and need fill a card -- You can pull out the GNARBOX and get it dumping almost one handed, and definitely without fumbling with your phone and constantly worrying if your connection is working or not.
It's small enough to fit in the pocket of a raincoat, and rugged enough with it's rubberized housing to go out into all sorts of situations in the field where you wouldn't want to risk your $3500 MacBook Pro.
On top of checksum verified copies, the real standout feature is that it can make multiple copies at once. You can plug in another SSD drive (say, something like the very affordable and fast Samsung T5) or even a thumb drive -- though the recessed USB-C slots might not fit all thumb drives. From there, you can attach it to the GNARBOX with a rubberband, and the GNARBOX can copy to both its internal SSD and to the external drive at the same time. Since most filmmakers like to have at least two copies to make sure things are safe, this is truly a killer feature; we will see this become a staple on set soon. Since most insurance companies require a plan for having three copies of all your media to insure a production, this one device will let you have the original SD card and two copies immediately and hassle free, satisfying an insurer.
In addition to all of this, it comes with a completely refreshed stable of apps that work with the 2.0 that make it easier to navigate and organize your footage on the go. You can see what you've downloaded, preview it, delete clips to free up space -- all with your phone tethered to the device. Impressively, it also allows you to preview not only the H.264/H2.65 most cameras shoot, but also ProRes files if you were shooting with an Atomos, Blackmagic, or similar device, in the field on your iPad. From there, filmmakers can then get back to the office, plug in the GNARBOX like a normal drive, and either start your edit or download your footage to permanent storage.
It's available now.
- 256, 512 or 1TB internal SSD
- SD slot,
- 2x USB-C ports
- Micro HDMI Port
- Water, Dust & Shock Resistant
- Single Step Backup
- Checksum Verified Backup
- Multi-desitnation copy
- Preview H.264, H.265 and ProRes video on paired mobile device
- SD backup up to 75MB/s, USB-C transfer up to 350MB/s