Movies, Security Drive Demand for Video Storage

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-07-09 Print this article Print

Storage companies like BlueArc and Isilon are scrambling to keep up with demand from independent special-effects houses and surveillance companies.

DreamWorks, Pixar and Industrial Light & Magic are officially on notice: New challengers to those well-known U.S. companies in the field of computer-generated filmmaking are cropping up quickly in parts of the world far from Hollywood.

Naturally, this is all very good news for the data storage sector, because storage is where all the high-performance computing digital film files need to live until they are assembled into a movie that will sell lots of tickets. And double-digit terabytes of storage are required for each movie, so the amount of new hardware and software to be bought is significant.

In fact, digital video storage is the single fastest-growing sector within the storage industry at the moment, according to analysts at IDC, Forrester and Enterprise Strategy Group.

Another factor driving storage demand is the increasing use of video surveillance in businesses and by municipal governments.

The City and County of San Francisco, for example, recently bought a whole new set of video cameras and accompanying storage hardware and software to monitor key city intersections, so police can catch renegade drivers who run red lights.

The second-largest vertical within the video storage industry is feature filmmaking.

eWEEK recently featured DreamWorks' storage system, which uses mostly products from NetApp, Ibrix and Hewlett-Packard. Its extremely powerful dual-core Intel "Woodcrest"-powered workstations have been supplied by HP for the last seven years.

DreamWorks, like many other studios, is continually buying new storage. "Storage isn't a buying decision anymore," DreamWorks Senior Technologist Skottie Miller told me. "It's a way of life."

Isilon Systems' industrial-strength Linux-cluster storage is a favorite among other media and entertainment companies, such as NBC Universal. Other big buyers of this storage technology are telecommunications companies, oil and gas exploration companies, and Web 2.0 companies.

Storage hardware maker BlueArc has also become a major player in this sector in the last three years. Soho VFX Studios, an up-and-coming special effects house in Toronto, utilized BlueArc's Titan storage system in the creation of "The Incredible Hulk," which is now doing very well at the box office.

The Orphanage, another respected independent special-effects studio with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, used BlueArc storage to power scene production for the recently released "Iron Man" action film that led box office sales for several weeks this spring. The Orphanage also helped produce "Superman Returns," among other films.

Lastly, Scanline, a German-based special effects studio and another BlueArc user, recently worked with Walden Media to bring "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" to the big screen.
"What's happening in terms of digital media storage is very similar to what we are witnessing for enterprise storage overall-total data deluge, and accessing specific data is more important than ever for companies' bottom lines and quality of work," Berj Bannayan, co-founder and software engineer of Soho VFX, told me.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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