If you’ve watched a classic movie lately there’s no doubt you’ve noticed that certain aspects of the viewing experience are different from today’s new releases. It’s not just the clothes and the hairstyles that date a film. It is also the visual effects and image quality. We could rabbit hole on the evolution of the art and science in movie making. But for this discussion, film quality comes down to one important factor: data. Lots more data. And data creates challenges for the technical folks whose names appear at the bottom of the credit roll, long after most of us have left the theater.
The media and entertainment (M&E) industry is no stranger to coping with technical challenges and exploiting opportunities to increase efficiency. The confluence of digital transmission, high-quality image compression, and more vivid displays allow movie buffs to enjoy a truly stunning viewing experience. Likewise, the developments in faster computing, graphics processing, high-speed networking, and virtually unlimited storage capacity have enabled content creators to fill the millions of digital screen pixels with more and more compelling material.
All this progress is not free. Unlike most IT storage environments where data files are comparatively small and easy to move around, M&E infrastructure needs to support the storage of and access to potentially petabytes of content across hundreds of creatives. These media production files are far too large to be copied from system to system as you would with a spreadsheet or document. This is why M&E storage systems are built so that artists can work on the content in place, and that requires a great deal of speed.
Dave Frederick, media solutions strategist for NetApp, is a 30-year veteran of the digital media technology industry, starting with digital audio and electronic music, digital video and 3D animation, and moving on to broadcast and post-production infrastructure. Dave’s approach is that although technology is important, it must never come between artists and their tools.