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Managing Rich-media Content in 3D Production Workflows

3D movies such as Avatar are bringing incredible eye-catching content and visuals to the big screen. Recent announcements from television broadcasters to show programming in 3D also support the growing interest in the immersive entertainment benefit that 3D provides. However, from a workflow and storage viewpoint, 3D production can generate more than double the amount of media content compared to 2D. How can studios effectively share and store all this extra data without breaking the bank and affecting production?

3D stereoscopic production requires at least twice the storage capacity of a standard 2D film. Capacity needs may even be greater depending on the number of streams, or the size of mattes, for each 3D project. Technologies that enable shared workflows, timecode-based partial file retrieval, and online archiving can play a role in managing the volumes of content, especially when it comes to data retention. For production and broadcast companies to cost-effectively manage massive amounts of rich media content, they should focus on identifying the right balance between capacity use, workflow performance, and management overhead.

Here are five ways that can help these organizations manage the workflow of rich media content.

1. Design a shared-workflow environment that leverages a storage-attached network (SAN).

One effective way to increase productivity is to streamline high-speed ingest and shared access capabilities. Effectively unify and centralize storage so a single copy of digital content can be seamlessly shared across various server platforms, simultaneously supporting all aspects of production from edit all the way through to final content for playout. This significantly reduces storage capacity requirements and improves workflow performance.

2. Maintain open system support to maximize your technology investments.

A vendor-agnostic shared-storage environment allows media organizations to choose their favorite server and storage vendors based on specific performance, scalability, or cost requirements. The flexibility of an open system keeps costs down and can be applied to strategically address data management objectives such as storage tiering.

3. Leverage storage tiering saves money and helps support new projects.

All content is not created equal. As projects are completed or file content is accessed less frequently, transparently moving that content off high-performance, high-cost storage saves money and frees up primary storage to be reallocated to new projects. A tiered storage and archiving solution can help align the cost and performance characteristics of your digital assets with that of the storage platform.

4. Integrate with Media Asset Managers (MAM).

MAM applications manage broadcast and postproduction workflows, enabling content to be indexed and quickly searched and located within a workflow. Timecode-based partial file retrieval helps to streamline workflows, integrates with media asset manager applications, and can enable confident archiving of digital assets on tape storage. Once on tape, timecode-based partial file retrieval can recall only a segment of a larger file based on timecode for faster access and better storage resource optimization.

5. Don't downplay the role of tape storage.

Especially when considering the benefits of timecode-based partial file retrieval, tape storage is often a preferred storage media for digital content. Tape provides the lowest cost per gigabyte as a storage device. It is portable and consumes very little power. Preserving and protecting data on tape storage is cost effective for archiving massive data files. And since raw footage is often kept in its entirety, tape makes a logical choice for managing that content.


Chris Duffy is Quantum's product marketing manager for StorNext. He has 12 years of experience tackling storage problems for companies. Quantum is a global storage company specializing in backup, recovery, and archiving.