I was Assistant Editing a docuseries shooting on a 5D and a c300. I arrived on set and the DP handed me the card to unload. It wouldn't read. nothing was showing up. NOTHING. After many panicked hours of trying different card readers and checking other cards, we figured the CF card was bad. We could NOT afford to shoot a whole additional day. In a state of alarm, I asked my DIT friend who they recommended for looking into a bad CF card. They actually recommended this place in WEHO. Not Long Beach. I think a lot of people might be confused by that. It appears there is one Protech in WEHO and in Long Beach, and it appears they are owned by the same company, but according to yelp (at the time) the office in Long Bech was the only one open past 9pm on a Friday night (thank God!!) so we called the one in Long Beach, figuring they'd be less busy than a recovery place in hollywood, near all the studios. We were right.
Call the number and try to speak with Paul if you can. I believe his extension is 37.
I explained my situation and he he said he could take a look at it that night if I could get there by 1030pm, and that they usually take a few days to review data (understandably, I'm sure I'm not his only client).
I raced down to Long Beach from Hollywood. It was a little hard to find, it's basically a huge condo-looking white tower next to other huge white towers. and the entrance you want is in the back of the building, drive down the little hill (if you're on the main street) and turn left. The next little entrance that looks like a private apt parking garage is it! Pull in there (park anywhere) and tell the sector guard you're there to see Paul at RTS. Then you sign in and Paul will come down from his ivory tower of helpfulness and take your drive and give you a rough time estimate.
In my case, he took it up, the security guard offered me a styrofoam cup of water and some bbq potato chips from his stash (thanks guy!) like I was in the waiting room of the ICU instead of some fancy condo skyscraper. They have a little rec room down there you can watch tv or nervous scan old books on the book shelf. I recommend insanely checking your phone every minute to see if Paul has somehow saved your career. Up to you.
20 mins later Paul called me and said he was able to see *something* on the card. Which is a positive sign. He asked if I could wait another hour while he ran tests. I said yes (I'd rather stay than drive all the way back). He ran more tests and later called . He had found media on the card, but it wasn't copying off. He told me he'd need to run some more tests on it, with equipment he doesn't usually use, in the morning, as it was 1130pm (past closing time). So I left, encouraged that he found SOMETHING on the card, and after he assured me I hadn't accidentally (somehow) deleted it. He can see if files have been deleted or damaged. It was the latter. Which apparently "happens all the time". Terrifying!
TIP: TAKE YOUR DAMAGED DEVICE, LAPTOP AND WORKING EXTRA HARD DRIVE WITH YOU. He asked for a hard drive to put the possible recovered data on, and we were able to test it on my laptop in the lobby.
Next day: I get a call from Paul saying he wasn't able to save the data. It's showing as .mov files now (yay) but it won't copy or move. He said the last idea he had was to send it to his associates in Sacramento who can (apparently) do a deeper scrub of the data and mail back a stick. I asked how much that would be. He said "For a CF card recovery we charge $200 plus tax. If we do not recover the CF card, we don't charge you anything. To send this card overnight to Sacramento would cost an additional $30 (or whatever UPS is going to charge). We can try to upload it to a server but since this is a lot of data and you are short on time, I would recommend having my counterparts buy you a thumb drive and have them mail that to you directly if they are able to restore the data." Pretty dang good deal.
Then Paul shipped the damaged CF card to Sacramento and that evening they were able to recover the files and PLAY them without error. The next day they were delivered and converted as usual. Very very thankful for Paul's sense of urgency on our shoot. Highly recommend him, he could have totally raped us but he didn't.
- Rose K.
- Irvine, CA