The Qio multiple video card reader module from Sonnet Technologies retails at $999.

New from Sonnet Technologies is the Qio (pronounced “KEE-oh” not like the Pidgin English  “CHEE-oh”).  Qio is a device that reads and writes all the current memory chips that are used in video cameras and online editing systems.

After you hook up one or more Qios to your computer – using the supplied peripheral interface card and cables – you can relegate your camera to the field and stop using it to download your dailies and archive your final edits. Qio is platform agnostic, and works equally well with MAC or PC platforms.

You can also throw away all your USB card readers  because Qio provides immediate compatibility with Sony® SxS, Panasonic® P2, CompactFlash, SDHC and SDXC cards (using an included adapter).  The PCI Express bus interface provides a wider bandwidth of 200MB/sec. throughput, eliminating most of the delay imposed by USB transfers.

Some newer computers, like the HPZ-800 offer an integrated memory card reading panel as an option, but Qio is much more than this for its $999 price tag.

For instance, if you’d like to take advantave of the faster SATA drive format, Qio’s integrated, fast SATA host controller (based on Tempo SATA E4P) with four eSATA ports supports and powers two Fusion F2 SATA storage systems, or supports SATA drive enclosures with up to 16 drives total.  For large volume acquisition and storage, you can loop-connect multiple Qios.

The cables are long enough to allow your Qio cabinet to sit conveniently on top of your computer or desk and the aluminum case measures just 5.9″ x 6.2″ x 1.22″.  Theft of the unit is deterred by standard Kensington style security slots.

Qio supports a full range of media cards such as (from left to right) Sony SxS, Panasonic P2, CompactFlash, and SDHC cards.

We installed a Qio on an older dual Pentium-4 machine which, until now, had been using a cheap USB card reader device which of could not read the P2 cards.  With all our camera media, the data showed up much faster than with the USB (and, presumably with FireWire), and laybacks to the chips for storing final edits and selected takes.  The results have driven us to decide to install it on the faster machines which are already equipped with card readers, to see if the increase in speed will carry over to them as well.  More news on that when I have it!

This email received last week from Tom Guiney of Conviction Films, who came across an article I’d written for Student Filmmakers magazine.

(NOTE: “B-Roll” footage refers to scenes that a filmmaker shoots to use after editing a “talking head” interview.  Often, cuts are made in the interview which would appear jarring – the head appears to jump between cuts after the unnecessary words are cut out.  These jump cuts are covered by “cutaways” to different footage, while the interviewee continues to speak.)

Dear George:

I read this article that you wrote and wanted to say, good work!

What led me to your article is that recently I was wrestling with the lack of good b-roll from one of my shoots. My fault, of course, since I was shooting. Fact is, it was a really challenging situation. Talking head/torso in a small beige office. Its an online promo for a financial planner, just him talking about what he does and how he can help you, the potential client. Absolutely nothing good to look at in his office. Well, almost nothing. Wondering what I could have done differently. Exterior of building was blah, very little signage or branding. And there was way too much A-roll in the script to leave much time for anything else.

Thoughts on that sort of thing? What might you have done?

Tom Guiney

Dear Tom:

After every talking head shoot (well, really, whenever I remember), I tell the subject that I’m going do something a little weird but fun.  I focus in on the subject’s hands and then I tell the subject to imitate me as I describe what I’m doing.  First I put three or four fingers out on one hand and then I slowly count off each finger with my other hand’s index finger. That takes care of any cutaway you need for when a guy says, “First I tell the client…, Second, I arrange for… etc.”  then do some other “hand things” like tenting my fingers, pointing toward the camera, making a sweeping gesture and, of course, anything else you can thing of as a result of having just done the interview.  For instance, if you remember the subject saying something like, “I’m very firm on this.” You should remember to have him make a fist and pounding into his other hand.  As you can see, each of these cutaways can be used (though not too frequently!) to cover a jump cut.

I hope this is helpful.



Right now, we are testing a range of Hewlett-Packard computers for use in video production, website design and animation.  These computers are the Elitebook 8560w mobile workstation, the all-in-one, HP Z-1 workstation, and the HP Z800 tower.  The software that is being tested on this heavy iron includes Adobe CS6 (disk and Creative Cloud versions), Sony Vegas 11 and NewTek’s Lightwave 11.  If you have any issues or comments regarding these specific products, we would be very interested in hearing from you.

Some brevities on our results so far:

Elitebook 8560 is a bit large and heavy for a “laptop,” but this is really a mobile workstation.  I use it for 85% of my desk work, from writing emails to designing graphics.  It runs Sony Vegas 11 just fine and can be taken to a client’s office to fine tune a video edit with no loss of confidence.  When “clamshelled” closed, its titanium shell is strong enough to stand on, but do not let the unit fall on a hard floor when the screen is open, because then, all bets are off.  Brilliant and accurate color screen. Two dual core processors provide 8 virtual CPUs.  Finger-print sensor for quick security.  Off center finger-mouse pad is a bit annoying at first.

Z-1 just came in so we’re just starting to load it.  It’s a bit difficult to reach the rear connectors, which are blocked by the support stand, but you only have to deal with this to plug in the network cable socket.  All other jacks and controls are duplicated more conveniently elsewhere.  The coolest thing about this computer is that you can lay it on its back and flip up the screen to reveal all the internal components, which are easily snapped out and replaced.  There’s even a gas piston that assists in lifting the screen – which makes it look like the read deck of a Ferrari.  Very, very quiet.  Make sure it’s off when you go home!

Z800 is a frighteningly powerful machine.  We have it with dual “hexacore” processors giving us 24 virtual CPUs!  This allows us to monitor how fast the programs we run really are.  So far, we haven’t found one program which makes all 24 processors clock in at more than 25% – and yet some of these programs run slower than expected.  What’s with that?  Why should a program bog down when you’ve got all that processing plus an NVIDIA Quadro 4000 handling graphics?  We’re digging into that.