Old LTO flame archives

hi all. ive got boxes and boxes of old flame archives on LTO4s and 5 tapes. Back in the linux days when the LTO drive was attached direct to the box and flame archived direct to it from within the software. im being told they are useless and can’t be read into the flame or even hooked up to Mac using the appropriate LTO reader and copied across to a drive and be accessed by flame as a file archive. just checking this is true before I throw away a life’s work in LTO archives!

I still use LTO 5 tapes. As long as you have an LTO 5 drive it should read both 4 and 5, but only write to 5. BUT, do you really need to keep them? I usually only hold on to 2-3 years worth. (I make about 50-60 per year) I am on linux, however, so I don’t know the status of LTO on Mac.

I wouldn’t mind be able to read some of them in. but flame doesn’t support tape drives anymore and if I can’t copy the contents to a hard drive and load in to flame from there then its useless

Holy shit. I didn’t realize this. From what I have now researched, you should still be able to read old ones in, but you can’t write to them any more. I’m sure that will go away in the first 2024 release (only speculating.)

I was told they dropped LTO support years ago! obviously not.

I’ve got some old lto 5 tapes that can be read in a lto7 drive. You should be able to hook up the lto5 drive to your mac depending on what interface you have and with some specific software/drivers restore the whole tape.

Is there documentation what format they wrote them on? If it’s LTFS, which has become the de-facto standard quite a while ago, you should be able to install LTFS drivers (on Mac via MacFUSE, etc.) and read the files right from the OS. If Autodesk used a proprietary data format, then it might be trickier to get to the data.

You could just install LTFS and see what happens. There’s not much downside to it.

I’m archiving all my work to LTO8 (9 is about to come out or has recently). LTO8 is 13TB compressed per cartridge which costs about $80, and with LTFS works right from your finder. After about right around 200TB of archive, LTO is cheaper than naked spinning HD. If you don’t mind the sound scape they make…

I’m using an LTO8 drive from OWC with TB3 connection.

PS: I actually worked on the original HP LTO1 & 2 drives way back when. Was the software architect for their field diagnostic and firmware update software. 1.5 careers back.

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Apparently all drives can read their own and two prior generations back, but not 3+

So for LTO5 tapes you would need LTO 7 or below drive.

Are you archiving to LTO directly from flame? Or are you archiving to a drive then writing a tar file to LTO.

We could do a whole thread on this topic.

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actually I was looking at LTO8 as a good permanent backup. im not sure - apart from the expense of the machine - why everyone doesn’t use it. 30TB compressed seems pretty good on a £65 tape. and lasts longer. Much much smaller footprint than a G-Raid with a power brick.

anyhow on the LTO4 and 5 thing - it wasn’t so much as what LTO machine reads it. its more of a case of what use is it once its on the Mac. is it any use. anyhow in the meantime my thinking is to ditch them all as I would have to buy an LTO 5 to do this and they were all so old - I have Pro res files of the masters any how.

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I work across multiple apps and was using LTO before Flame. I use an enterprise backup software to backup the project folders from the central NAS, which do include the Flame archives.

So more the latter version of your question.

With LTO at 13TB you’re likely archiving multiple jobs to a single tape. Need some way of managing that. You can use LTFS which simply maps the tape as a filesystem in your OS. Then you can come up with some folder hierarchy to copy various backups to (tar or just as is with cp -R)

The other question is, if you could actually retrieve the files from the tape, would Flame actually still be able to open the projects? Or would you just be able to get maybe source files, plates, and final renders, in case you wanted to do something fresh with them?

Long-term archive of projects is a totally separate topic and very interesting. Generally speaking, both on the hardware side (as evidenced by LTO reading 2 generations back) and many software apps not opening old projects at all, or not faithfully, not to count plugin licenses that have expired or don’t exist on current generation Macs - the general rule would be that anything you intend to keep has to be ‘copied forward’ every ~2 years. Meaning you have to copy it onto newer storage, open it in the apps and re-save, render intermediate plates of specialty plugins etc. . That even applies if you kept it on an external spinning drive. You’re supposed to spin them up at least once a year to prevent the motors from freezing up. And even older SSDs need to refresh some of their cells after a while. Not a lot of storage option that are write and forget.

That said our tools have also improved. So if you were to open an old project, you’d likely ‘remaster’ it with new shaders, new trackers, etc. Also much of the material is likely lower resolution than we’re used to these days.

An alternate archive strategy is to keep both master renders and intermediate renders like text-less versions and a screenshot of your batch node tree so you remember how it was built. That’s probably a lot more useful than a full archive of the project.

Avid is one of the very few apps out there, that generally can open projects/bins that are several years old and continue working on them. But it’s a rare feat.

And even your ProRes isn’t necessarily safe. Early tis year we worked a major job helping a historical archive of interview footage going back decades recover their ProRes files that had become unusable. They were created with an Apple script and QT7 to concatenate spanned media clips. Unfortunately the script had a bug and wrote ProRes files that only (the now obsolete) QT7 could read, but any modern app from Avid, to Premiere, to Resolve would consider corrupted. It took some ffmpeg scripts to unwrap the individual streams of the ProRes files and then re-encode them on current generation ProRes codecs to restore the archive. They discovered that while their archivist was copying forward their archive from LTO5 and LTO6 tapes to current generation tapes.

Hi John, if your ever in soho and want to drop one into my office in Poland Street id be happy to see if i can retreive anything off one as i have an LTO drive at home. At least then you will know.

Thanks for the offer Marcus… but ive decided to let go of the past (archives) time to move forward. 500 LTOs all going in a skip!

Thats a lot of late nights. No tears when they go though, just do it quickly.

I was thinking of hiring a hit man to do it for me


In my opinion… trying to keep LTO’s because it is your work it is like keeping the notes/homework you did in school/Uni just because you did it. No one will ever need/read them again so you can focus on something newer.

IMO, Autodesk (UK) should take them off you hands, permissions permitting, and load them into a machine learning algorithm and make a record of your artistry+history. The end result of the work may obviously still be recoverable, but what would also be recoverable would be a record of your artistry going back years of yourself and the software. That sounds like quite an archival trace. Flame royalty deserves a place in a Flameseum and twould be like oil paint (Flame) having a record of some of the great procedural work undertaken with and within it. Just a thought, and perhaps a dream.


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haha - good idea