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Smoking Storage

Sep 28, 2010 12:23 PM

Smoke & Mirrors achieves a realtime workflow on nonproprietary storage technology.


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Smoke & Mirrors Senior Colorist Mark Horrobin.

Smoke & Mirrors Senior Colorist Mark Horrobin.

"Lights, camera, action" are the words uttered by countless budding film directors to some of the greatest movie icons of all time. The history of film spans hundreds of years. Film editing has moved on tremendously from the early days of the invention of the motion and projector camera. The 1990s witnessed the special effects explosion, and with the reinvigoration of 3D movies, viewers' increased demands for special effects such as VR and with the backdrop of current economic constraints, production companies are under pressure to ensure they stay at the forefront of their industry.

These pressures can lead to inefficient work practices and mistakes. Most recently, ITV was caught offside when a transmission error cut short Nike's first airing of its World Cup ad'. In November last year, ITV also aired the wrong version of a "News of The World" ad during an episode of X-Factor. Mistakes are both financially punitive and can damage reputations beyond repair.

Today, media organizations constantly look for ways to increase competitive advantage, reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and win more business. Often, they rely upon the creative talent of their staff, but increasingly talent is being merged with an innovative IT infrastructure, and storage technology plays a critical role.

The nirvana of most postproduction houses is to achieve a multiple streams in a realtime, tapeless storage and workflow environment. That is, the ability for multiple teams of renderers, colorists, and animators to work on the same piece of media, within the same storage infrastructure (namespace) in realtime—and of course with assurance that the final media file produced is the correct file for multiple channel distribution—thus avoiding the embarrassment experienced by ITV.

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Realtime processing in a nonproprietary storage environment

Previously, one of the greatest pain points for postproduction companies has been waiting for just-shot film to be uploaded onto a film scanner before staff can work on it. Postproduction companies also had to wait for that data to be downloaded to local storage devices. Single teams could only work on single pieces of film and then re-save to their local device before a different team could commence their own editing. This resulted in delays and often the wrong film file being worked on.

Recently, significant technological innovations have helped companies move toward their nirvana. However, only a handful of vendors are in the market and all provide proprietary storage environments at a software and hardware level. With ever increasing storage capacity and storage requirements a proprietary storage environment is costly and complex.

However, as recently demonstrated by postproduction company Smoke & Mirrors, a realtime multistream processing environment can now be achieved using open, nonproprietary software and hardware.

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