Storage budgets in movie industry rated S for skyrocketing

Making a single movie can require more than 2 TB of storage capacity. High-definition TV, 4K high-resolution cameras, archiving digitized files and rendering are all part of why storage budgets in the entertainment industry are skyrocketing.

With storage technology becoming more and more critical to the making of movies, the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show this week acquired the look of a storage conference. In this age of 4K high-resolution cameras, a single movie can require more than 2 TB of storage capacity. Archiving to present content requires a great deal of storage capacity. Animation and special effects require top-flight performance from storage systems. Digitizing files is a boon to film and television production personnel but requires massive investments in storage systems.

Post-production house CineStor will spend an estimate $14 million on technology -- a big chunk of which will go to storage -- before it works on its first movie in late 2008 or 2009, according to Greg Thagard, a former Warner Bros. executive and now CTO of startup CineStor. Why does so much of a budget need to be spent on storage?

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"Once you get the bits in, you store them and have them there for 50 years or more," Thagard said. "And you can't store and ignore. You have to have active-active systems and locations in different sites for disaster recovery." As a post-production company, CineStor wont be dealing with just one data stream, but seven, Thagard said. "We have to ingest data from the field overnight and verify we have it for those camera packs to go out the next day. You can't say four days later, 'Oops, we really didn't get that scene.'"

Thagard said that CineStor is leaning toward DataDirect Networks for its main storage platform, and will probably choose the company's S2A9700 StorageScaler, which was launched at NAB. That system scales to 1.2 PB and supports SAS and SATA drives in the same enclosure. DataDirect systems also support native InfiniBand, so customers can connect to storage directly via InfiniBand without Fibre Channel-to-InfiniBand bridges. Thagard is looking forward to the 40-Gbps InfiniBand connectivity that many observers expect later this year.

"We're looking at DataDirect mainly because of InfiniBand," Thagard said. "And we're looking at the big boxes. We'll need several petabytes. When you get into production, you never know how much of that is required to be online versus offline. We're talking about almost a petabyte of disk online."

At NAB, DataDirect also unveiled a midrange storage system, the S2A6620 StorageScaler, which is aimed at animation rendering houses. The 4u system is DataDirect's smallest offering, although it scales to hold 120 drives. .

More storage news from NAB

Atrato revealed a partnership with Seagate to use Seagate's disk encryption in the company's Velocity1000 storage systems. Atrato also struck an OEM deal with MusicGiants, which will sell the Velocity1000 with encrypted drives in high definition entertainment systems.

IBM introduced a service called IBM Management Complexity Factor for Media, which was created to help media companies plan their storage environments.

Rorke Data and Primera struck an OEM deal to deliver Blu-ray and DVD publishing and duplication appliances.

Spectra Logic said broadcast editing systems vendor Avid Technology, Inc. will resell its T-series tape libraries and nTier disk appliances.

NBC said that it would use Isilon IQ clustered storage systems during its coverage of the Beijing Olympics in August.

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