V irtual reality (VR) is here. In the last few years, the emergence of new, innovative multi-camera systems has enabled producers to more easily capture the high-resolution 3D 360-degree video required for creating stunning VR experiences.

At the same time, new consumer technologies—ranging from high-end, head-mounted devices to inexpensive smartphone accessories—are facilitating widespread exploration of VR. With Facebook and YouTube support for 360-degree video, consumers don’t even need any special equipment to experience more immersive visual formats.

Is your studio ready to dive into VR production? The right storage solution is vital. And finding that solution requires a careful evaluation of your technical requirements.

Defining your performance and capacity needs

For most studios, performance and capacity will be the top two storage requirements for supporting VR production. With 3D 360-degree camera systems capturing several gigabytes every second, you need strong performance and scalable capacity at every stage of your workflow—from ingest and preparation through editing and retention of final files.

To satisfy the performance requirement, some studios might lean toward implementing flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) for their primary storage systems. But flash is not the right solution for everyone. While flash can deliver excellent performance for many workflows, the higher cost and lower capacity of typical flash drives compared with hard disk drives (HDDs) mean that you should carefully assess your requirements before investing.

How do you determine what type of storage you really need? Start by examining three key aspects of your projects and workflows:

  1. Data rate: How many megabytes or gigabytes per second will your video consume? Moving from SD video at 29.97 fps to 4K UHD video at 60 fps increases the data rate you need to support by nearly 75 times. Identifying the formats you’re likely to use—now and in the future—will help you calculate your expected data rates and define the levels of performance and capacity you need.
  1. Compression: Will you work with compressed or uncompressed video? Using raw, uncompressed video can be helpful for some important post-production tasks, such as color correction and high-end compositing. But there is a price: Working with uncompressed video will require greater performance and up to two to three times the capacity of compressed content.
  1. Stream count: How many simultaneous streams will you need to support? Ingesting video from some of today’s multi-camera systems can require high levels of performance and capacity. But the number of cameras in the system can make a huge difference—a 42-camera VR rig will require greater performance and capacity than a 17-camera system. The number of simultaneous video streams you need to support during post-production also affects your requirements. If you want to enable several team members to conduct multi-stream editing, you’ll need a storage solution that can deliver robust performance.

Quantum conducted extensive testing with real-world media and entertainment workloads to help determine ways to optimize storage for today’s and tomorrow’s post-production requirements. The testing—which led to the development of the Quantum 4K reference architectures—generated several important conclusions that are applicable to VR projects and workflows.

To learn about the results and how they can help inform your VR storage decision-making, check out the e-book, The Fourth Dimension of Virtual Reality: Storage.

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