Reinventing The Video Server

Another year, another new format – or ten! Broadcasters are now surrounded by a sea of formats. Everything from HD-SDI, streaming formats, 4K/UHD and last but by no means least the many variants of IP based transport mechanisms like J2K or SMPTE 2022. It’s an increasing challenge for the industry to handle the mixture of all these sources especially when distributing content to the many output channels a broadcaster needs to address on a daily basis. Adding custom graphics and branding to the video forces us to have multiple versions of the same clip, eating up storage space and increasing the need for video management. Meanwhile broadcasters are often still stuck having specialised devices for singular tasks - video server for video, graphics servers, audio systems and vision mixers to name just a few. This isn’t anything new but a solution is urgently needed as we’re seeing these new formats arrive constantly. As we gear up for IBC 2015, let's take a look at these basic concepts and the understanding of how an efficient broadcaster should ideally operate, and dive into the creation of a new video, graphics and audio workflow centered on Viz Engine as a powerful video playback system.

Beyond Tiered Storage: A New Approach to Workflow Storage

If you’ve worked in storage for decades as I have, you’ve heard all the debates about which storage works best for each step in media workflows. But one thing that’s clear is that not every step has the same storage requirements, and that some kind of tiered storage strategy is needed. With every-expanding digital asset libraries, storing it all on high-performance disk isn’t practical or cost-effective. Traditional tiered storage is straightforward: store the most active, most recently used data on fastest, expensive disk storage, and store the less active, older data on slower, less expensive storage, generally tape or lower cost disk arrays. Hierarchical storage management (HSM) software was built to automate the data migration between tiers, and make file system access transparent regardless of where the data is stored. When the primary storage filled to a capacity watermark, for example, 90% of capacity, the HSM system would find the files that were least recently used and move them to the secondary tape tier until the disk storage had sufficient available capacity. This model of tiered storage was built for business data where the focus was containing costs. Disk storage was expensive, tape was cheap, and older business data was rarely relevant except for an occasional audit. The criteria was simply performance vs cost. But media workflows don’t manage business data. Here are the 3 biggest considerations for developing a new approach to workflow storage.

The Evolution of Sports Broadcasting

What industry has the most demanding workflow? There are some good contenders, and Sports Broadcasting is among the heavyweights. Capturing the drama and excitement of live sports has become the ultimate high-wire act in modern television production. Consider the pressures of covering a live event with no second takes, millions of highly discriminating and knowledgeable customers scrutinizing your every move, and that every play has the potential to make history. Take a look at the "Evolution of Sports Broadcasting" and see for yourself where the future of the industry is headed.

Pt. 1 of Three Trends That Could Disrupt Your Workflow in 2015: 4K

In the fast-paced entertainment industry, the technology for both creating and consuming content can shift sharply and quickly. Making the right technology choices, at the right time, with well-timed implementation can mean the difference in moving your business forward or wasting a lot of time and budget fixing bad decisions, or worse, losing the business. These three market trends have the power to disrupt your workflow, but by making a few key decisions today you can transition smoothly in 2015, plus prepare for what’s to come in the future. In Pt.1 of the series we look at a technology that's going to be on everyone's mind at NAB 2015: 4K.

A Lesson From The World of Entertainment — Profit from Data-in-Context

With the dawn of “Big Data,” businesses in all industries increasingly need to analyze the combination of current and historical data to compete in the marketplace. Data-in-context is more valuable than ever before. For many commercial enterprises, the resulting need to keep more and more data indefinitely and the storage challenges this causes are driving businesses to modify their practices and data architecture in a way that seems different and new. But, in fact, this concept is a very old idea for a number of industry verticals where data is, quite literally, their business. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of media and entertainment, where data (video) is the most valuable asset, and where the concept of data reuse (re-monetization) is a primary element of driving revenue.

Live from NAB – Not All 4K is Created Equal

4K technically is just a frame size–4096 pixels×2160 lines for cinema or 3840×2160 for consumer–but to achieve the quality that people expect from 4K, you need more than just a high-resolution image. You also need a frame rate of 24 frames per second or greater, and a compression codec that doesn’t degrade the 4K image quality. The dirty little secret is that it’s really hard to stream 4K content at this rate without dropping frames on a shared storage system, so some workflow storage vendors are reverting back to direct attached storage to support their 4K claims. That means that you’ll need to modify your workflow for 4K to download locally for edit instead of accessing directly from shared storage. Say goodbye to the collaborative environment that’s shortened your production cycles to meet the tight deadlines that drive this competitive industry.

NAS and SAN: Two Solutions for Shared File-Based Workflow Storage

Many companies in the Media and Entertainment industry come to us for help with their storage needs. Because video editing places higher demands on storage than any other file-based application, it requires high-performance shared storage systems. Usually this leads to one of two options: either shared Storage Area Network (SAN) file systems or scale-out Network Attached Storage (NAS) file systems. Each system offers advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully considered.