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Surviving the digital media explosion

20 December 2016
Surviving the digital media explosion

With the evolution of motion picture and HDTV technologies, including the reality of high-frame-rate (HFR) 3D, virtual reality and 4K, media asset managers and content professionals are under unprecedented pressure to manage growth and budgets while enhancing key asset infrastructure, data durability, and resiliency. How do motion picture, digital TV and video production studios deliver more data capacity against a slowdown in technology density improvements and sluggish IT budget growth?

Twenty years ago a major animation film would require a mere 10GB of storage to produce, for today’s digitally rendered movies storage is measured in multi-petabytes. With each video format change and new resolution jump, files sizes continue to increase dramatically. The move from SD to HD, to 4K, and now 8K video formats is causing file sizes to grow at an incredible rate.

If we look at storage requirements for a movie with a typical runtime of 130 minutes, the numbers are staggering. An 8K format version of a movie could use up to 46.5TB of storage capacity. Then, when adding the multiple transcoded formats for each movie with different screen sizes and distribution methods, the amount of content storage for a single movie can easily exceed 100TB.

Using media asset management (MAM) in the cloud to manage content growth

In addition to the growing amount of content that media and entertainment studios have to deal with, the complexity of the digital workflows handling that content is becoming impossible to manage. From ingest to playout, media content goes through multiples stages, creating various intermediate versions of the digital media that must be stored and managed. This workflow can quickly overrun the capabilities of typical local storage and cloud content storage solutions that production teams are using to try and solve the problem.

To help manage this data for the television and movie industry, media asset manager software is being migrated to the cloud to organise, centralise and manage multimedia content and the correlating metadata. The advantage of making current MAM software cloud-compatible is that it allows studios to keep precious assets and raw content, close and available on a high-speed internal network while taking advantage of the cloud provider’s connection to the internet for distributing final content. A cloud-compatible MAM can manage all of the data, metadata, workflows, and distribution in a single application, greatly simplifying ingest and post-production activities as shown in the example above.

Modernising MAM metadata usage

In addition to centralising multimedia content, increased metadata creation for that content puts pressure on the storage infrastructure as much as – or even more than – the actual content itself.

This metadata can be automatically or manually created. For instance, today’s cameras automatically create a tremendous amount of data about the video or images they capture, such as aperture, frame rate, shutter speed, and more. Non-linear editing (NLE) software also provides a tremendous amount of automated metadata that is captured by MAM systems.

Creating manual descriptive metadata also provides the opportunity to gather detailed information about what is occurring onscreen, as opposed to technical or operational metadata. This detail can include information about characters, onscreen actions, and scene breaks. For example, if you want to know which actors take part in a fast-paced car chase or who utters a poignant phrase of dialogue in a dramatic scene, you would need to manually create the descriptive metadata.

A robust MAM can capture all of this metadata, automatic and manual, and provide tools for searching and research, product development, and analytics that distributors, movie houses, cable companies, and viewers can use to enhance their viewing experience. And as a result, many top major and indie studios are now opting for scalable object storage, which is able to adapt easily as content continues to grow and ensure that the content isn’t lost in a ramshackle mess of file or storage silos.

Innovative data storage and management is becoming the unlikely saviour of the media and entertainment industry, thanks to the ever-growing explosion of data putting stress on existing storage and production technology. Media professionals now need scalable object storage combined with a powerful, cloud-based MAM to meet the needs of demanding, modern digital content creation. Media organisations that are already choosing intelligent storage put themselves in the best position to adapt to the ever-innovating and data-hungry media landscape.

By Jeff Greenwald, HGST

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