Color Correction Gear Head: July 2016 Edition

July 4, 2016

In the inaugural edition of the Mixing Light color correction gear head series we take a look at 4 pieces of gear for the colorist.


Monthly Spot Light On Gear For The Colorist

I’m the first to acknowledge that I have a serious problem.

Friends & family have urged me to stop; colleagues just shake their heads every time I utter the words ‘have you seen this…’

My addiction?  Gear!

I lust for the latest in technology, no matter if it’s something large like a new client display or something more utilitarian like an adapter or an SSD.

While it might seem like I have a secret Swiss bank account to fuel this addiction, the fact is I don’t buy stuff on a whim.

I intensely research, read every review I can and more importantly return items I don’t like and sell older items to finance newer pieces of kit.

While traveling recently with Patrick & FSI’s Bram Desmet after quite a bit of teasing by those two about my gear addiction, I thought it was time stop simply being the butt of jokes and announced to my traveling partners that I was going to do something about my gear addiction.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop!  But it does mean that I’ve decided to start a monthly article series about gear.

Every month I’ll highlight 3-5 pieces of gear that I find useful in the color suite, to post workflows or of general interest to a colorist.

Some months I may only highlight a single large item – like a display or control surface.

I should mention I’m not a professional reviewer, so my goal is not to do a super in-depth review of each item I highlight, but to simply bring the item to your attention, describe why I think it’s useful and how it’s been helping me in the color suite.

So, let’s jump in for the inaugural Color Correction Gear Head article.

Samsung 950 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD

I feel the need, the need for speed! – Maverick, Top Gun

While not everyone has Top Gun quotes memorized like I do, you can surely appreciate fast hard drives.

Like many of you, over the past few years, I’ve transitioned from mechanical hard drives for my OS & Cache drives to SSDs like the fantastic Samsung Evo 850 and 850 Pros. I’ve even built a couple 4 and 5 drive SSD only RAIDs with the 2TB version of the 850s.

While 500-600 MB/s off a single SSD and 2000 MB/S + in a RAID configuration is very impressive, traditional SSDs are limited by 6GB/s SATA III connections.

Enter NVMe M.2 SSDs.

You might have seen the M.2 form factor before – it’s becoming more and more common in laptop configurations.  Allowing for super small, cool and very fast SSDs.

NVM Express (NVMe) is a newish technology that allows for super fast speeds over PCIe connections.

Combined with the M.2 form factor, an NVMe M.2 SSD like the Samsung 950 Pro, provides unbelievable speeds for laptop and supported motherboards.

Samsung 950 Pro
Small but powerful! The Samsung 950 pro is a super fast NVMe M.2 SSD


In my HP zBook Studio (which I’ll highlight in next month’s Gear Head article) I put in the 512GB version of the 950 Pro as a media drive (the boot drive is also NVMe M.2).

As you can see from the screenshot below, I can get read speeds in excess of 2400-2500 MB/S from a single 950 Pro!  That’s fast enough to support…well any type of media out there and multiple streams! 8k EXRs anyone?


Yep, the 950 Pro is very fast! This SSD is perfect as boot drive, render cache drive or for any other high speed need.


The M.2 form factor is not just for laptops.

The ASUS X99-e WS USB 3.1 motherboard I use in my home system has an M.2 slot on the motherboard.  I put in another 512GB version of the 950 and use it as super fast render cache drive.  Another use would be to use an NVMe drive as a regular render drive.

Even if you don’t have an M.2 slot to put in an NVMe SSD you can still take advantage of these super high-speed drives.

Many companies make PCIe Adapters for M.2 cards like the Samsung 950 Pro. Simply pop in the M.2 NVMe SSD then install the adapter in a PCIe 3 x4 slot (for full speed performance).

If you’d like something a bit more turnkey, several companies are building NVMe PCIe SSDs.  The HP z Turbo drive is a unique setup allow for up to 4 NVMe modules for up to 2TB on a single PCIe card.


zTurbo Drive
HP’s z Turbo Drive allows you use multiple NVMe SSDs in a single PCIe card. This thing is seriously fast!


M.2 enclosures are also available. If you want the ultimate in portable speed a USB 3/3.1 NVMe M.2 setup would be hard to beat for its cost/form factor. Just be sure when picking an enclosure you get one that supports the size of the 950 pro (80mm) and matches the keying at the bottom of the M.2 card – the 950 is M keyed.

If speed is something you crave, take a serious look at the Samsung 950 Pro. While it tops out at 512GB for about $300 I would expect higher capacity sizes to not be that far off – Samsung has announced a 1TB version for later this year.

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Homepage Forums Color Correction Gear Head: July 2016 Edition

  • ROBIE! im a gear head too, glad you started this theme!
    thanks for 1080 update, first sensible review of the card performing with Resolve, I’m super excited to upgrade now 😀

  • andi winter

    hi robbie!

    thanks for the reviews. just ordered my first lto deck and some tapes :). 1080 are also on my list, but i try waiting until there is a hybrid version or a more-ram version or both :). is the 1080 already working in osx? or did you test on a windows machine?


  • R.NeilHaugen

    You know you’re gonna get people following these discussions! Great read, Robbie. Be interested in your work with the Ripple, as I’m working away with one myself at the moment.

  • RobbieCarman

    yes, windows box. I think it’ll be a while before the do a TI version or similar – but I think we’ll see a Pascal Titan by the end of the year – that is going to be a beast

  • RobbieCarman

    I like it for what it is. I’ve been using it since NAB were I demoed it at the Adobe main stage with Premiere Pro. I think for editors its a no brainer. I’ve been using when traveling/teaching. I would have loved two programmable knobs – saturation and hue. But I’ll hold off on the full review until later 🙂

  • R.NeilHaugen

    Getting it past the initial startup, where no matter what I did, it only went to the Color Wheels … it’s rather an intriguing and handy tool in color work in Lumetri. Getting it mapped to a series of things is good. You’re right though … two, maybe four more knobs would extend the capability a MILE. My biggest curiosity is why the reset buttons are … chroma on the left, luma on the right, just backwards from the way the two always appear in either usable Adobe app. I’ve queried up the line about that …

  • Great article!
    It would be interesting to know what would be your ideal Hardware setup for a colorist studio.
    It would be also nice to hear from others what would be their “Wish list” without budget limitation…

  • RobbieCarman

    Martino – a few months ago I did a multi-part series on setting up a color suite. You can find the first article here, and then using the links at the top of the article, navigate to the other parts in the series.

  • Thanks Robbie, thats great!

  • I am struggling in deciding for a Monitor. I am willing to spend good money for it but i am really confused about what to buy…any suggestions?

  • rda

    I’d love to hear the specs of the box you put the 1080s in. How many cores, RAM, etc.

  • Robbie Carman

    yep those went in my home studio setup. So its a Single 14-Core Xeon, 128GB RAM. Asus X-99 WS-E Motherboard 1500 watt EVGA power supply. In addition to the 2 1080’s I have a ASUS Thunderbolt card, Decklink Card and Atto R680 HBA.

    If when pascal Titan’s come out I’ll replace my current Titan X setup (4x) in the cubix I use at the office

  • Robbie Carman

    Hey Martino –

    (also saw your comment on the MailBag episode).

    It’s a hard question to answer. It’s partly about needs, partly about budget.

    If money is no object than I would take a long hard look at the Sony BMV x300 4k HDR OLED. it’s sort of the unicorn of monitors at the moment – OLED, does true 4k (as well as UHD) and 1000nit HDR. But it also lists at nearly 30k.

    The entire Mixing Light Team are huge fans of FSI monitors as well. In my opinion OLED is best choice for a reference display for many reasons. FSI offers their AM, CM and DM series OLEDS – same panel just different features and connectivity.

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