T he newest tools and technology for film and television made a splash at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas last week. Quantum received a couple of awards. StorNext® 6—the latest version of our superfast storage management platform—won a Best of Show Award from TV Technology and a Post Pick award from Post Magazine.
New products rarely change the game by themselves. Interoperability is too vital to the industry’s diverse workflow requirements. So a big shout-out goes to the Quantum partners who helped showcase StorNext at our booth, Autodesk, SGO, and Veritone.
8K? You Bet!
For months, we have been planning our NAB demo for Quantum’s StorNext-powered Xcellis™ workflow storage with SGO’s next-generation editing, effects, and compositing system, Mistika Ultima. Editor/effects artist Peter Amies used Mistika and StorNext on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With Xcellis recently completing exhaustive 4K testing, we knew that working with Peter, we’d be able to come up with a compelling NAB demo.
But we wanted to push things a bit further. “What about 8K?”
Prior to the show, Peter loaded 10-bit uncompressed 8K footage from SKY Perfect in Japan and some stunning 60fps RED HELIUM 8K RAW footage shot in Dubai. Xcellis provided consistent read speeds of over 11 GB/s. Equally impressive was Mistika’s ability to handle the uncompressed 8K footage in real time while simultaneously down-resing to 4K for viewing.
Mistika’s amazing ability to work with RAW HELIUM 8K footage using a single Nvidia Quadro P6000 GPU saves time and storage space, and allows much more color latitude. Peter first worked in half-resolution at 22fps (hardly a compromise when working in RAW). Setting the timeline back to full resolution, he could render his six-layer effects stack back to Xcellis at near real-time, 33fps. This feature produced big smiles from those who have worked RAW footage.
Virtual reality (VR) 360-degree video is an immersive video format that is here to stay. Peter showed how the same SGO rocket science that allowed him to work with RAW 8K could be used to automate the process of stitching multiple cameras together quickly (like “wow” quickly). Here too, Peter moved through the high-resolution equirectangular image with ease. As VR tools evolve to make the stitching and post-production easier, the need for storage performance will only increase.
Powering Next-Generation Media Insights
One of the big advantages over analog video delivery is the depth of information that can be gleaned from digital content. A new generation of cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) engines can provide insights that most of us could not have imagined a few short years ago—facial and phrase recognition, voice identification, and even the sentiment of spoken words. This “content intelligence” enables content creators and advertisers to target audiences with laser-like precision. It also provides content owners with a way of maximizing the value of their library.
Veritone’s cognitive media platform can analyze video and audio data, and harness the power of dozens of cloud-based AI engines. But, getting large amounts of data to the cloud for analysis can take time. We have a unique relationship with Veritone that allows us to offer Veritone’s cloud-based AI platform as an integrated solution with StorNext workflow storage.
At the NAB show, Veritone demonstrated a hybrid version of its aiWARE platform running on-premise through StorNext. This allowed faster and more secure metadata results. It was not just the speed of StorNext that made this possible, but the StorNext API and its S3 cloud interface, all of which give the AI engines deeper, easier access to resident data.
Autodesk captivated visitors at the Quantum booth with its deep set of visual effects (VFX) tools in its legendary Flame system. VFX wizard Ken LaRue imported 3D elements from Maya into Flame. Then, with all 3D geometry maintained, he was able to apply true 3D lighting and textures in real time at 4K resolution. It was not long ago that fine-tuning 3D textures, lighting, and animation was a very slow, iterative process. For anyone with 3D experience, Ken’s demo must have been amazing. Most storage platforms would be begging for mercy in a workflow like that.
2017: Storage Intelligence Required
The StorNext development team works hard to stay a step ahead of industry requirements. This is exemplified by the feature set of StorNext 6. Quality of Service (QoS) and the ability to expand a live storage environment non-disruptively are new StorNext 6 capabilities that enable high-resolution content creators to easily meet the ever-increasing need for storage bandwidth and capacity. FlexSync™, FlexTier™, and FlexSpace™ deliver improved content protection, and easier access and collaboration for cloud-based solutions.
There is no place for “dumb storage” in today’s media workflows, especially when playing host to partners who are breaking the 8K barrier, redefining 3D animation, and bringing artificial intelligence to bear. StorNext continues to demonstrate that simple data capacity isn’t enough—it’s data management and data intelligence that the industry needs to take workflows to the next level.
Cheers to our partners who helped show off the power of StorNext 6!