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POST PRODUCTION Four must-haves for modern media workflows: Enhancing your MAM solutions by Laurent Fanichet, product marketing, scale-out storage, EMEA, Quantum I that’s shortened your production cycles so you can meet the tight deadlines that drive this competitive industry. t’s always been about the struggle to manage lots of assets and adapt your MAM to suit in the world of digital media workflows. In the early years, enterprise storage infrastructure couldn’t keep pace with the demands of SD, so the first non-linear editing systems were turnkey solutions with proprietary file and file system formats. In the last decade or so, IT-based solutions have finally caught up, and open solutions for shared storage are now readily available at price points affordable for even boutique post houses. The good news is that there are industry-standard, high- performance solutions available that don’t require you to disrupt your workfl ow with tedious downloads and uploads to and from direct attached storage. So when you investigate storage for 4K workfl ows, your key questions should be: What frame rate does it support? With which 4K codec? Is it 4K raw? Does it work with shared storage or only local storage? How many concurrent streams can it support? So now that we’ve made the shift from digital SD to HD, there’s the push toward the quality viewing experience that 4K brings. At the same time, new avenues for distribution are driving workfl ows to provide quick and direct access to all content for monetisation and reuse, not just work- in-process content. For most facilities, this means implementing new strategies to enhance their MAM and existing workfl ow, starting with four key issues to consider before making any decisions. Higher-resolutions workfl ows are not just about increasing storage performance, they’re about increasing storage capacity by 3-4 times more than HD, depending on codec. And that’s not the only trend that is driving the storage explosion. Much of the storage demand starts right at capture, with live events now being shot with more cameras, and in feature production, with cameras less likely to be shut off between takes. 1. 4K content and the need for speed At IBC 2014 in September, virtually every storage vendor claimed to offer a solution for 4K workfl ows. But what are they truly offering? 4K technically is just a frame size–4096 pixels×2160 lines for cinema or 3840×2160 for consumer– but to achieve the quality that people expect from 4K, you need more than just a high-resolution image. You also need a frame rate of 24 frames per second or greater, and a compression codec that doesn’t degrade the 4K image quality. After all, to your creative team 4K is 4K raw, not a low resolution codec like most vendors were offering. The dirty little secret is that it’s diffi cult to stream 4K content at this rate without dropping frames on a shared storage system, so to support their 4K raw claims some workfl ow storage vendors are reverting back to direct attached storage or proxy editing. Going that route requires modifying your MAM workfl ow for 4K to download locally for edit instead of accessing directly from shared storage. That means giving up to the collaborative environment 74 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 97 JANUARY 2015 2. Ingest, distribute and the need to scale In facilities that turn projects frequently, the large-scale fi le creation that happens when fi les are ingested or fi le deletion when a project is completed often confl icts with times when users need high-performance access. If the storage can’t handle it, facilities are often forced to set up “delete windows” of limited fi le system access. With tight production deadlines, this can make the difference in being on schedule or off. The heavy storage consumption continues through the workfl ow with transcoders spitting out more distribution formats for more connected devices, and content owners creating more second screen content for both live and on- demand markets. And if you’re storing content in single-fi le- per-frame formats like DPX or generate large numbers of fi les as in VFX, your storage will need to scale accordingly without degrading performance. So in addition to asking what a storage system’s capacity is, you should ask: How easy is it to expand capacity? What’s the maximum number of fi les (not just TB) this storage system can support? Does access performance degrade as the storage fi lls, as the number of fi les increases or as fi les are deleted?