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Case study: Archiving the blockbusters at Deluxe

With a need for more storage, and not much space, Deluxe Digital Cinema EMEA looked to Spectra Logic to archive its feature film content. Deluxe production systems engineer Chris Green tells us how they did it.

Deluxe Digital Cinema EMEA has carried out post-production on some of the industry’s major films, including Frozen, the Harry Potter franchise and Avatar. Relying on industry-leading graphics and post production software, the company’s IT infrastructure at the heart of its success.

In addition to a natural need for greater storage capacity (due to the resurgence in 3D as well as the advent of 4k resolution imagery), Deluxe Digital, based in London, needed a smaller array with higher storage capacity to adequately archive films in its space-challenged data centre. Its legacy Oracle/STK L700 was aging, support contract fees were becoming increasingly high and Oracle’s future support plans for the L700 library were uncertain.

After researching the market, the Deluxe Digital team selected Spectra Logic’s T950 tape library with LTO-5 drives to archive over 10TB of film footage every day.

The T950 is library is designed and built to meet stringent requirements for data integrity, data security and high reliability. At Deluxe Digital, it is used to archive film projects from 14 European countries and to access data from old LTO-3 tapes from the L700. The unit can expand over time and will support future projects as Deluxe Digital London creates and ultimately archives more video material. The T950 also reduces staff administration significantly, affordably scales in throughput and capacity, and supports multiple generations of current and future tape formats.

Meanwhile the LTO-5 drives offered Deluxe Digital performance benefits. The media cartridges were suited for the media and entertainment industry because they are optimally balanced for protecting content for the long-term and have a native capacity of 1.5TB (3TB with 2:1 compression). They have a native transfer rate of up to 140Mbps (280Mbps in compressed mode).

The cartridge capability of the Deluxe Digital solution allowed the company easy access to archive and backup data on tape and a smooth integration of new higher performance interface standards. The system’s backward compatibility ensures that data that was written up to five years ago can easily interface with contemporary and higher-density formats – a crucial feature in this fast-moving industry.

In an active archive configuration, feature film footage can be restored into Deluxe Digital’s production environment for foreign versioning and subtitling. Deluxe Digital’s Active Archive environment allows data to be moved between Deluxe Digital’s SGI disk-based arrays and the T950 library using ASG’s Time Navigator software. Footage is kept in the Active Archive format for 12 months as standard before the tapes are taken out of the archive and moved to secure off-site storage.

“Feature film foreign versioning and subtitling for theatrical distribution are key, specialised services for Deluxe Digital London and have been ever since the two concepts evolved. Spectra Logic gives us the most cost effective, secure and efficient means of safeguarding our clients’ digital assets and ensuring they are readily available for valuable versioning and subtitling projects. Being based in Soho, London, floor space was also a major factor in our decision to select Spectra Logic, along with the T950’s massive density and LTO-5 format.”

Environment Snapshot

  • Spectra T950 tape library
  • Six LTO-5 fibre channel drives and 450
  • licensed slots
  • Active Archive environment