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Content distribution
The distribution and authoring of movies also requires high-performance systems, according to Dee Jordan, executive director of engineering at Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, CA, who installed an Isilon cluster several years ago. At Jordan's facility, approximately 100 people perform Blu-ray, Universal Media Disc (UMD) and DVD authoring.

"Our primary service is Blu-ray disc authoring--a disc image is the end product--which we deliver to a disc replicator. Our services include HD video encoding, audio encoding in advanced formats, integrating menu elements, subtitles and navigation aspects of the disk," says Jordan. "The encoding process requires high-throughput and high-performance capabilities since it's high-definition video for Blu-ray."

Within their 300TB Isilon cluster, Jordan has created two different pools of storage. "We use a central pool of storage for the entire authoring process where all the elements--image files, encoded video and audio--come together," says Jordan. "A second cluster of storage is dedicated for video encoding, which has high capacity and throughput demands. The HD video encoding process runs on a bank of servers for each title. The file output from video encoding is 30GB on average, and is eventually migrated to the authoring cluster in our workflow."

Adds Jordan: "We start with high-definition video

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source files, which can be hundreds of GBs for feature-length content, and then encode to one of the supported Blu-ray video codecs, creating a high-quality file for the disc."

The future
ABC Owned Television Stations Group's Casabella says there will be a big market for storage systems that support the industry's transition to HDTV and higher resolution camera work.

"We will see the end of analog [magnetic tape] and, on February 17, 2009, a transition to HD," he says. "Stations have already started to convert to digital from analog media." Over the next three to five years, says Casabella, most local production facilities will convert to HD. He estimates that the transition to HD will cost approximately $2 million to $10 million per station. And those estimates don't include the price of extra storage capacity.

This was first published in August 2008

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