Post-production company processes 20 TB a day with new system

Monday, 18 March, 2013

Park road 1

Park Road Post Production, an NZ-based film company, has implemented a storage system that can manage up to 20 TB of data each day.

The company was looking for a new way to manage the masses of data involved in digital filmmaking. Uncompressed digital film can translate into hundreds of terabytes of data per project, and the system the company was using to manage the content was proving inadequate.

The facility had a traditional archive system built around Atempo Time Navigator and direct-attached tape libraries, but wanted a solution with more speed, efficiency and scalability.

“We faced a very unique challenge on one particular project, and we realised that we would need to dramatically increase our throughput and capacity to meet the potential demand,” says Phil Oatley, Head of Technology for Park Road.

“Each shoot day would see us process an average of six to 12 terabytes of new material, and on a really busy day this could reach 20 terabytes. All new material needed to be processed and delivered to the client within 12 hours.”

Park Road had long leveraged its SAN infrastructure for real-time processing of picture content, and the facility decided that a further extension of this infrastructure utilising virtualised tape storage would be the best approach.

Park Road had already utilised Quantum StorNext FX for four years for non-Apple SAN clients. Its legacy archive solution software used a Scalar 50 tape library with older-generation tape drives.

At the recommendation of Park Road’s technology partner, Factorial, the facility decided to take a look at a larger Quantum solution comprising StorNext software and a Scalar i6000 enterprise tape library with Quantum tape drives.

Park Road elected to move forward with the upgrade at the time of its SAN expansion. The StorNext licence allowed the facility to deploy Storage Manager to automatically move data between high-performance disk and a large-capacity tape library archive.

The i6000 also provides an increase in the amount of data that can be kept for near-term re-evaluation or processing as well as long-term archive. It can add new slots as needed and supports the LTO-5 tape drives.

Since implementing the new system, performance has increased for Park Road. Source data is acquired onto a SAN, either on-set or from field LTO-5 tapes, for collaborative processing via multiple SGO Mistika workstations. These access source material concurrently over 8 Gbps Fibre Channel. The source data and all metadata generated on-set and derived through processing is archived to LTO-5 tape via Storage Manager. Tapes are retained within the i6000 to facilitate retrieval back to the SAN for further processing. Tapes are also ‘vaulted’ from the library for long-term archive.

The system at Park Road routinely processes multiple terabytes of data in just a matter of hours and can handle in excess of 20 TB/day at peak load.

“One of the most important factors in selecting a new solution was ensuring that the existing creative workflow that filmmakers enjoy at Park Road was not compromised, but rather enhanced by any technology decision,” says Oatley.

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