October 2, 2019

GNARBOX 2.0 With Multi-Destination Copy Is Finally Here

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.

The SD card slides right in.

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.

GNAR works with traditional card readers, but also has their own line of rugged card readers for CFast and SD.

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.

It also works as a normal SSD drive.

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.

Tech Specs:
  • 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

Your Comment

4 Comments

Nice design and simple interface, but the price will convince most of us to haul a laptop and cheaper SSDs for backup.

October 2, 2019 at 10:00AM

1
Reply
avatar
David Patterson
videographer/editor
495

Yeah, if only they were selling a unit with an expandable bay. Might have been interesting then, but a 1TB is only going to go so far if you are shooting raw.

October 2, 2019 at 1:14PM, Edited October 2, 1:14PM

0
Reply
Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
906

I really like the idea of this, but now that iOS supports external storage you could spend your money more efficiently on an adapter and rugged drives, leaving this out of the equation and having way more storage. The idea of simplicity is there, but the idea of the Gnarbox software going wrong in the field is a bit scary. If you'd like to use your iPhone/iPad for backups it would probably be less friction in the workflow to just do it directly now.

October 3, 2019 at 5:12AM

0
Reply
Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
1132

I applaud the release of the V2, but quite disappointed that the Gnarbox is the darling of the web when NextoDI have been saving my ass on the field since 2008 when shooting with my 5DMKII. NextoDI has been for over a decade offering a battery-powered backup system with file security as well as let you add whatever drive (SSD, HDD...) you want for way cheaper.

On their latest NVS2801 Plus you can play all of these files directly from the backup module. The NVS2081 Plus is their high-end model but you have other ones that will do just the same for 400 USD and you can plug whatever SSD you want in it!

XAVC 4K, XAVC 2K, AVC Ultra 4K, AVC Ultra 2K, XF-AVC 4K, XF-AVC 2K, H.264 (.mov), AVCHD 2K, PRORES 4K, PRORES 2K, DNxHD 2K, MPEG 444/422/420, DVCPRO HD.

They may not have a fancy Mobile app like the Gnarbox, but Nextodi as however a decade of proven track record that at least everybody should give them a good look.

October 4, 2019 at 11:32PM, Edited October 4, 11:34PM

0
Reply