The power of the pipeline


As post-production houses and studios move toward all-digital workflows, there has been a renewed focus on the importance of storage devices at the hub of these digital pipelines. Our look into the state of storage at a number of visual effects studios and post-production facilities reflects the increasing maturity of these digital infrastructures.

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From its use in the production of commercials, TV shows, video-on-demand (VOD) services, trailers, and feature films, data storage is now routinely viewed as a critical factor in keeping artists at work, in producing better quality final output, and in speeding up time-to-market.

This year will be a watershed for storage in digital content creation (DCC) environments, according to Tom Shearer, executive vice president at Bright Systems, a storage integrator, and a 30-year veteran in the storage and entertainment fields.

Bright Systems provides a variety of software, hardware, and services for high-end storage devices and file systems, including products from storage vendors such as ADIC, Chaparral, Isilon, QLogic, and Xyratex.

Shearer attributes the watershed to “a confluence of storage issues that came together last year, including significant price drops for Fibre Channel components and new low-cost options for disk storage [such as disk arrays based on high-capacity Serial ATA drives].”

“We’ve reached the time where you can put your money into tape recorders that you can only put one user on or you can put the same money into disk and have multiple users on the same disk, for the same price,” says Shearer. “The biggest kicker is that you can put any resolution on disk. You can transfer a 2K piece of film onto disk, and after it’s been edited you can push it to any resolution you want.” According to Shearer, the move from resolution-dependent “islands” to resolution-independent, disk-based storage represents the future direction of most production houses.

In this special supplement we take a look at studios that are pushing the envelope with their use of storage to help them develop more-efficient digital pipelines.

This article was originally published on March 01, 2005