Screening the Future 2012 in Los Angeles attracted quite a few representatives from the film studios and the networks. Fox’s James DeFilippis, Group47’s Rob Hummel and Paramount’s Andrea Kalas all agreed that scale is their biggest problem. AV leads to huge files, which keep getting bigger with 3D technology and ultra-high density TV. – by Inge Angevaare
Hummel presented some figures:
- Two hour 35 mm full aperture 4K resolution = 8 TBytes of data
- The same movie in 3D stereoscopic = 16 TBytes
- 60 frames-per-second for a two-hour, 3D, 4K movie = 40 TBytes
And that is just one movie, and only the finished product – the volumes of raw and intermediate data also available for archiving easily surpass those numbers. Another number: the CIA produces 8 Exabytes of data every week, of which about 10% must be kept. Storing all that stuff is an issue, but it is not the biggest problem. The biggest challenges are the necessary media migrations: they take forever. Hummel indicated that a single media migration at an (unidentified) major studio took six months! He quoted the 100 Year Archive Task Force of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) as saying:
It is the contention of the 100 Year Archive Task Force that migration [meaning: media migration, IA] as a discrete long-term preservation methodology is broken in the data center. Today’s migration practices do not scale cost-effectively and won’t be done until a crisis erupts. This means that today’s reliance on [media – IA] migration is taking us down a ‘dead-end path.’ Hear this, under these practice guidelines, the world’s digital information is at great risk.
Compression, preferably lossless, is of course one way of dealing with the problem, but it is by no means enough. Technology will have to come up with some breakthrough to effectively handle these large volumes of data.
Hummel suggested that such a breakthrough is on the way, a medium called DOTS – Digital Optical Tape System. It is supposed to be virtually indestructible* and much less demanding in terms of climate control (saving both on migrations and on electrical power). Kodak developed the technology in the 1990’s, but because it was not in their business interest (selling film) they abandoned the project. Now Hummel’s Group47 is developing the technology further. According to Hummel, it is only “a kiss” more expensive than magnetic tape (12%), and it may come on the market in about 18 months’ time.
Let’s hope for a happy ending Hollywood style!
* That is, as long as you are not a Sprite drinker. Citric acids are the only substances identified so far that do any real damage to DOTS.
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