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Introduction to
firewire logo

Using Firewire drives and devices in the LRC

FireWire is the name given by Apple to the IEEE 1394 data transfer standard. Sony devices and documentation refer to it as iLink, but it is exactly the same thing. In the LRC we use firewire to transfer large media files such as uncompressed video to and from external hard drives, cameras, and through digital/analog converters


The LRC uses two types of firewire connector: 6-pin and 4-pin.
fw connectors

Pictured here, the 6-pin connector is on the left, and the 4-pin is on the right. The larger 6-pin connector is used to connect to computers such as the iMac and to external hard drives. The smaller 4-pin connector is used for smaller devices like Sony camcorders and media converters.

note: Firewire 800 devices have larger 9-pin connectors. The only devices in the LRC that have such connectors are the external hard drives, and that end of the cable should not be disconnected from the drive. The only cables that are hot-swapped in the lab are the 4-pin and 6-pin.

Saving work to and from external hard drives [top]

external hd

Digital video projects can require mass amounts of storage capacity, and the internal hard disks of the LRC dv stations can get full quickly. In order to ensure that everyone has enough disk space to do their work, any projects that are not currently in use will be moved to one of the external firewire drives. Students can assist LRC staff by doing this themselves. Work will be removed from the external drives as needed.

Rule #1
Properly disconnect drive from computer.

  1. Drag the drive's icon to the trash on the computer to which it is currently connected. That will "unmount" the drive.
  2. Turn off power. Do not unplug the firewire cable before unmounting the drive.

To access an external drive:

  1. Plug the firewire cable into the computer. If the drive is powered on, the blue indicator light will come on. If the light does not come on, check to see if it is plugged into the power strip.
  2. An icon for the drive should then appear on the desktop.
  3. Drag and drop files to and from the firewire drive icon.

Configuring media converters [top]

Sony Media Converter
view from front
(mouse over buttons for descriptions)

  • power on
  • for analog to digital conversion, such as importing a VHS tape into iMovie, press the analog in button
  • a green indicator light shows the conversion direction

Sony Media Converter
view from back
(mouse over buttons for descriptions)

  • top row of red-white-yellow RCA connectors is for analog in
  • connect the RCA cable to in connectors on the Sony converter and the out connectors one of the VCRs
  • FireWire goes to the computer

Formac Converter
view from front
(mouse over buttons for descriptions)

  • The Mode button switches between analog in and digital in
  • The Analog indicator light is on when the Analog In mode is selected
  • If the power light is off, check switch on the back of the device, then check the FireWire connection to the computer. The Formac gets power from the FireWire cable.
  • If you get a pixelated image when importing through the converter, toggle the Mode button.

Formac Converter
view from side
(mouse over buttons for descriptions)

  • As with the Sony converter, make sure the RCA cable coming in from an external source is plugged into the in connectors.
  • firewire on back