The days of videotape

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2006-07-17 Print this article Print

and film are long gone"> "All the content we have is on servers, and everything is redundant," Tarasoff said. "The days of videotape and film are long gone. We have a one-button backup system. If the on-air server fails, our operator can push one button to enable the backup."

Turner uses a five-tier video storage system consisting of "edge" servers (mostly Pinnacle and OmniOn play-to-air servers); seven days' worth of programming backup (and that is also backed up); SATA (Serial ATA) drives with up to 30 days' worth of programming; an Asaca DVD jukebox server with 15 disk players that houses 1,200 DVDs; and StorageTek digital tape archives, which house 200,000 titles, including movies, television shows, commercials and promos.

"Altogether, we have about 26TB of video content stored right here in one place," Tarasoff said.

Tarasoff said the eight Quantum SDLT-600A tape drives that Turner uses "simplify our infrastructure so much because each drive has a GUI-visible file directory that goes with it. It includes all the associated data with each piece of video, so accessing and using each file is easy. As we continue to grow in the number of files we have, this simplification becomes even more important."

Lucasfilm: Lucasfilms ILM division invested in a Spinnaker video storage system in the late 1990s. Spinnaker was later acquired by NetApp, which, like Sun, is reaping the rewards of ingesting a highly respected, network-standard video storage and retrieval system with a number of prominent built-in customers.

"We have a 200TB NetApp storage system attached to our Spinnaker servers, with a 40GB Ethernet interface," said ILM's Thompson. "As you can imagine, we move humongous amounts of data from one place to another. NetApp provides the software stack for us; the load balancing and virtualization of all that data is handled very well."

Here is how the digitization process works: Artists in the studio, such as animators, modelers and renderers, create content at their workstations, and it is all saved overnight to the scheduler in the storage server (one of 20 Spinnakers in the ILM data center) that is handling their project.

All the files are marked with metadata tags for the editors. The editors then search through the file system directory to find different takes of the shots  they want for a particular scene.

Thompson, the storage administrator, sees the entire pooled-asset storage system as a huge "virtual disk" on his NetApp/Spinnaker console.

"When a rendering project starts to take more bandwidth than we originally allocated to it, the load can be distributed over multiple servers, as necessary, to get the job done in a timely fashion," said Thompson.

As shots are put together and updated, their status also is updated in the metadata database, so that any editor can check on the progress of each scene.

Once the "render farm" completes its work, editors put together a collection of shots to create a scene, which is sequenced into a full movie.

WGBH, Boston: Dave MacCarn, who has no particular title but calls himself "chief technologist" at the PBS station, said that he's getting about 50 years' worth of film and videotape ingested into digital archives and that he may never finish the job.

"It's a mountain of content," MacCarn said. "We have more than 300,000 hours of physical video to save. Film and tape just won't last."

IT managers should keep an eye on new display tech. Click here to read more.

WGBH uses StorageTek servers for archiving and a number of other servers for play-to-air, backup and scheduling. The station also has been a leader in trying to get a standard television video storage API and reference implementation established, MacCarn said.

HBO, New York: Ken Chin, vice president of broadcast engineering for the world's largest cable television franchise, told eWeek that his operation has to juggle 10 round-the-clock networks and that he's got about 200 days' worth of content stored in 50TB of StorageTek equipment.

"Ninety-six hours of content fills up about 1TB of storage," Chin said. "It's all stored on various tiers for immediate, occasional and archival uses."

HBO uses play-to-air servers from Thomson/Grass Valley as the front end of its system, and Chin said he's been impressed with their performance.

Next Page: Coming to digital.

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

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel