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Convert your Mac Mini to an XServe, add more PCIe cards & a Thunderbolt ExpressCard reader from Sonnett

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A range of clever hardware devices from Sonnett Technologies Inc. From the large 'XServed' Mac Mini to the ExpressCard reader, these boxes expand your Mac using Thunderbolt.

The first product from Sonnett that caught our eye was the $1,295 xMac™ mini Server. This is for the hardware expansion kit, you have to supply the Mac Mini yourself. Before you laugh, checkout what Thunderbolt has enabled the xMac to do, this box was stopping people on the show floor.

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"1U rackmount PCIe 2.0 expansion system with two Thunderbolt™ Ports mounts a Mac® mini inside a specially designed enclosure that also contains two x16 (x4 mode) PCIe 2.0 slots, a 150W power supply, and an installed Gigabit Ethernet card. This system enables users to plug in two PCIe 2.0 adapter cards (one half-length and one full-length) to slots connected to the Mac mini via locking Thunderbolt cables while allowing the connection of additional Thunderbolt peripherals to the daisy-chain Thunderbolt port."

Our favourite feature was the mechanical arm on the right hand site of the unit which transferred the on/off button movement to the back of the Mac Mini. Possible uses in the video world range from servers to metadata controllers for SANS.

Next up are the two Echo™ Express PCIe 2.0 Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis.

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The $799 Echo can take two full length PCIe cards and the $599 Echo Express takes one half sized card. The units aren't small though as you can see from the scale of the standard issue FCP.co pen.

"The Echo™ Express PCIe 2.0 Expansion Chassis with Thunderbolt™ Ports enables users to plug in high-performance PCI Express® 2.0 adapter cards to any computer with a Thunderbolt port. Professional video capture, digital audio, 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10Gb Ethernet, and RAID controller cards are examples of the PCIe adapters that may be used. Available in two sizes, the standard Echo Express PCIe 2.0 Expansion Chassis supports one half-length, single- or double-width, x16 (x4 mode) PCIe 2.0 card while the XL model supports two single-width, full-length cards, or one double-width, full-length card. Both have integrated universal power supplies, fans to cool the cards, and two Thunderbolt ports to support daisy-chaining up to six devices to the host computer."

These boxes would enable Thunderbolt equipped Macs like a MacBook Pro or iMac to use PCIe cards such as a Kona 3G, Blackmagic Decklink or even a transcoding card such as the Red Rocket. It would be interesting to find out if another GPU card could utilised with DaVinci Resolve.

Last up and probably of most interest to us editors is the $149 Echo™ ExpressCard®/34 Thunderbolt™ Adapter.

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This is perfect for getting your XDCAM EX footage into an NLE quickly. There are two models available, the standard model will transfer data at 2.5 Gb/sec and the Pro version doubles that to 5 Gb/sec.

"The Sonnet Echo™ ExpressCard®/34 Thunderbolt™ Adapter adds an ExpressCard/34 slot to any computer to which it’s connected, extending Thunderbolt technology-equipped Macs’ capabilities like never before. The adapter enables users of the latest iMac®, Mac® mini, MacBook Air®, and MacBook® Pro models with Thunderbolt ports to seamlessly connect compatible ExpressCard/34 cards from Sonnet and other manufacturers. ExpressCard/34 adapters offer users additional connectivity and functionality beyond what is available through their computers’ stock configuration."


Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

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2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

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Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

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BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

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Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

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Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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