The Cinema Industry is Moving Forward

As digital cinema replaces film workflows, film and video makers are looking for new ways to enhance their story telling. The most notable technologies are 3D high frame rate (HFR) digital cinema and 4k capture. Both promise to thrill the audience with an experience closer to how humans see real life. Digital capture today can occur on videotape, hard disk drives and flash memory devices each with their own advantages and/or disadvantages. Twenty-four frames per second (fps) has been the predominant frame rate, which has been the minimum rate that supports an optical sound track. This choice had nothing to do with image quality and everything to do with controlling cost. The cinema industry is now ready to move beyond 24fps to new HFR and 3D HFR technology. The state-of-the-art today is 48fps and rapidly accelerating to 60fps and 120fps.

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Current Storage Technology is not Keeping Up

When it comes to generating and manipulating massive amounts of digital information, few industries can match the data-intensive workloads of movie and TV production. Digital cinema, including HFR 3D and the emerging Ultra High Definition TV (UHDTV) spec, will generate even more data.

Given the acceleration in frames rates, this big data challenge is only getting worse. Presently, 3D movies generate more than one petabyte (PB) of data. 3D alone generates anywhere from 100% to 200% more data per frame. Films shot in HFR 3D can generate up to 40TB of original camera data per day or .25 PB per week. This is an 8x increase in data generated for a two-hour movie.

Big data poses a major challenge for traditional disk based storage systems. RAID can no longer meet the needs of the petabyte world. Hard disk drives are at 4-6TB today and forecast to reach 60TB by 2016. These large drives are great for storing a lot of data, however, when they fail it can take up to a week to rebuild the data. Making matters worse, the long rebuild time exposes valuable data to another drive failure degrading the system further.

Fast and easy access to media for post-production houses is another part of the challenge. Studios are leveraging independent teams around the world to accelerate time-to-market. They use a variety of different editing platforms to get the job done and want local file access with sufficient performance to keep the post-production flow humming along.

 Requirements

Digital cinema and broadcast studios have similar requirements for storage systems now that everything is digital, to do this they must:

  • Achieve a cost savings of 50% or more for storage.
  • Have unbreakable data durability and quality of service, so that the system will never go down with a single point of failure.
  • Support the latest HFR and high-resolution performance requirements with headroom to grow.
  • Share real-time access by independent post-production teams that are geographically dispersed.
  • Incorporate standard APIs for integrating with different editing applications.
  • Include independent scaling of storage performance or capacity. Optimize for COTS hardware i.e. Intel CPU and Ethernet connectivity.
The Solution

Amplidata’s HimalayaTM object storage software allows studio and/or post-production houses to support any resolution, including next generation frame rates of 48fps, 60fps and 120fps. Himalaya is easy to deploy and manage with a policy engine allowing users to scale durability, capacity and performance to meet today’s needs with unlimited flexibility for the future. A single Himalaya-based system can be scaled across multiple racks to provide up to 10’s of gigabytes per second of I/O, limitless capacity and near linear scaling of throughput. The highest levels of data protection and efficiency are achieved with patented BitSpread® and BitDynamics® technologies. Greater than fifteen 9s durability is possible by spreading data geographically. Multiple failures are tolerated with virtually no impact to system performance. BitDynamics closely monitors things like data corruption and drive instability while automatically healing itself in the background never having to take the system down.

Maintenance such as drive replacement can now be planned saving precious time and resources. With NFS/CIFS support, studios can quickly ingest production files and securely share them with geo-dispersed post-production teams. Through multiple local gateways and a single global namespace, remote teams get real-time standard file access with great performance. High durability is maintained with all files including metadata on the primary store. A unique direct-connect option for workstations is possible for the most demanding applications. This combination of unbreakable durability, infinite scalability, and extreme efficiency at a fraction of the cost is ideally suited for media production and post applications.

 System Diagram – Three Sites