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Sony HDCam tape shortages: Is it time to now truly go tapeless? Or sort of tapeless with LTO-5/LTFS

April 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Sony Corporation’s Sendai factory which produced HDCam SR tapes has ceased operations on March 11th due to earthquake damage and no date is set to restart production. The entertainment and broadcasts industries are now faced with extreme shortages of a primary camera acquisition, production and show mastering consumable. With limited news about when new tape stock will be manufactured, what are the options? De-gauze, revert to SD 16:9, or go tapeless? Tapeless workflows have been a buzzword for many years, and due to this unfortunate tragedy, we may be at the tipping point where a fully tapeless workflow becomes necessity for production and post. As more productions transition to tapeless workflows it is now critical to identify cost effective production pipelines and determine best practices to minimize the risk of losing digital media. Tape has long been the gold standard for productions and the safest choice. That being said, tape does have limitations. Tape is a real-time process; one hour of video takes one hour to digitize and one hour to master back to tape. Video tape is also rather inefficient by the modern measure of how many hours of content fit within one cassette.

So you want to take a walk on the tapeless side?

Here are some options: Capture & Acquisition: First, determine what camera and format will shoot on, and will going to a tape format benefit you down the long winding post-road. Since you will most likely be editing digitally, and outputting digitally, does going to tape really the most efficient way to go? Solutions like the portable and camera mountable Cinedeck allow direct to disk capture from virtually any camera – with a codec of your choosing in pre-compression. This allows choosing a format like Avid’s DNxHD and Apple’s ProRes both are robust and stable in post and easily played by any NLE system. Cinedeck also allows for Cineform encoding; one of the most respected codecs available today, routinely used in DI suites – rivaling and exceeding HDCAM SR quality. Here is a great comparison between Cineform and HDCAM SR: http://www.wafian.com/QualityComparison_CineForm444_vs_HDCamSR.pdf .

Another extremely robust solution comes from Telestream, an industry leader in encoding. Using their Pipeline appliance allows for Real Time DNxHD and ProRes encoding, in addition to a myriad of other frequently codecs. Pipeline, in conjunction with their Episode encoding software, allows for the ability to create virtually any file format that is needed – for post, deliverable, and distribution. AJA has made quite a splash with the Ki Pro family, which also allows for a direct to disk acquisition, focusing on utilizing Apple’s Pro Res codec. Once the files have been delivered into post, and the project has been completed, we now need to contend with deliverables and archival. I contend that new LTFS – that is, the ability to use LTO-5 tapes as you would a removable Hard Drive – is a rock solid way of bridging and unifying these necessities. LTFS allows for faster than real time restoring and play out of the broadcast quality files. In addition, it’s in a native format that any computer can recognize – a stark contrast to the antiquated TAR format, which has been the standard, albeit proprietary, data tape backup format. These same data files can also be pushed via WAN to the intended facility. With WAN acceleration products like StorageDNA, Aspera, or Signiant, the wait time for a physical tape delivery is negated and the workflow has now become completely tapeless. All 3 of these solutions will be at NAB this year and all 3 have comparable speeds – but vary in pricing on the available feature sets. Archive and Restore: At the end of the process, what is going to serve you as not only the most reliable backup methodology, but the most cost effective as well? One LTO5 tape costs well below $100, and prices have been dropping. Each tape holds 1.5 TB – equivalent to 15 Broadcast quality HDCAM SR tapes. Compare this to protected RAID solutions and the savings are instantaneous. With the reliability not found in spinning disks yield a win-win proposition. Coupled with the price and performance gains, when LTO5 is tied in with LTFS, you gain something even more important: compatibility. Current LTO-5 cassettes are smaller than an HDCAM tape and can store as much as 15 hours of content mastered in Apple ProRes or DNxHD. These limitations have continued to be accepted in favor of the perceived ‘safe’ factor of traditional video tape. But is video tape really safer than data tape; is it more secure on a shelf than an LTO tape in a robotic library? Does video tape fail less often than data tape? Perhaps now is the time to acknowledge the limitations of traditional tape workflows and begin to examine the potential for safe and efficient file based solutions. LTFS is universally compatible – remember, it appears just like any removeable drive. This means 5, 10, 20 years down the road, the information is viewable and retrievable – not in a proprietary format that needs a piece of software that no longer exists.

Over the next week of NAB2011, I’m sure we’ll see more tapeless solutions and would love feedback from the community.

IBM, HP, Quantum,StorageDNA and Cache-A have all announced support for this emerging technology. Go see these booths at NAB to learn more about alternatives to a tape workflow: StorageDNA (SL10310), Cinedeck (SL12116), AJA (SL4420) , Cache-A(SL8209), Aspera (SL9620), Signiant (SL5229), Isilon (SL11614), Ultrium LTO N6619.

Below are some recent links outlining the issues of HDCAM. http://www.sony.com/SCA/press/110314.shtml http://www.10pdm.com/sony-hdcam-sr-shortage http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/03/sony-media-products-experience-shortage-as-prices-soar/ http://www.televisionbroadcast.com/article/115606

Mike Cavanagh, President of Key Code Media, is recognized as leader in blending video technology advances with fundamental business issues. He can be reached at mcavanagh@keycodemedia.com or (818) 303-3900.

Key Code Media Hires Terry Marshall and Trish Silverman To Join Sales Team

April 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Key Code Media announces the hiring of Trish Silverman and Terry Marshall to the Key Code Media Sales Team.  They will be joining Key Code Media at NAB 2011 and will going through training and attending booth presentations from our vendors.

Terry Marshall for the last eight years was Vice President of Global Sales – Professional Technology Division for Sonic Solutions.  Terry was a key influence for the world wide adoption of Sonic Scenarist to become the Blu Ray authoring standard.  In fact, Kris Koch, our San Francisco Account Manager, while at Sonic reported to Terry.  Terry felt strongly that the future of sales in the video space would be led by integrators such as Key Code Media.  I am extremely excited about Terry joining Key Code Media.  Terry will be managing the advertising, FX, commercial editorial, and commercial production territory at Key Code Media and primarily working from our Santa Monica office.  Terry is originally from Australia.

Trish Silverman comes from a background of selling into Universities, as well selling into the post production world.  Her past positions include Director of Sales at AlterMedia, Inc. and Director, Sales & Marketing, USA at The Electronic Farm. Trish was a four year scholarship tennis athlete at Oklahoma, although she is a California native, grew up in Thousand Oaks, CA.  Trish is excited about the opportunity to represent best of breed solutions to educational institutions, government and houses of worship.  Trish will be based in our Burbank office.

Tim Cannella has been promoted to manage the Studio position at Key Code Media and is set to expand the video solutions driving initiatives around tapeless workflows for enterprise clients.  I’ve worked with Tim since the early 1990s and feel he has the industry experience and knowledge of Key Code Media to make significant inroads helping  clients leverage best of breed digital video workflows.

Key Code Media is the West Coast Leader selling digital video and audio workflow solutions.  Leading vendors include Avid Technology, Apple, Sony, Panasonic, Harris, -JVC, Grass Valley, Newtek, Facilis, AJA, Adobe, Sierra Video, Kramer, Leader and HP.  Offices are located in Burbank, Santa Monica, Irvine, San Francisco and Seattle.

-Mike Cavanagh

For details, please contact Matthew McClain at Key Code Media.  (818-303-3900)

Avid ISIS 5000 Move on Up Upgrade

Customers with older Unity MediaNetwork or LANshare shared storage systems now have an opportunity to get $7500 off the total system price by moving on up to an ISIS 5000-32TB (with one or more ISIS 5000 Engines).

Benefits/Why Upgrade

Based on Unity MediaNetwork and LANshare, the newest technology and features of ISIS 5000 provide the lowest cost per GB ever. With ISIS 5000, you get greater user storage capacity, administrative flexibility, all-Ethernet connectivity and 90 included client licenses. And of course you still get the best possible real-time integration with Avid editorial, Interplay, and Final Cut Pro workflows.

With today’s budgetary constraints and highly competitive business environment, it’s all about getting the best tools at the lowest prices. ISIS 5000 deliver more real-time performance and superior editor integration than EditShare, and much greater storage flexibility and management tools than Facilis. Compared to any other shared storage system, Avid makes collaboration faster, easier and more reliable.

Extensive storage and workflow testing enables Avid to hold its solutions to the highest standards of performance and reliability in today’s media industry. Whenever you need Avid support, we’ll always by there with people who understand and “get” your business.

You will receive a $7500 credit off the ISIS 5000 purchase price on any order of ISIS 5000 32TB or multiple ISIS 5000 Engine system.

This promotion is not offered on purchases of ISIS 5000 Direct Connect or ISIS 5000 Demo systems. This promotion requires the return of Unity MediaNetwork file Manager, storage chassis

and dongle or LANShare chassis and dongle.

Effective through June 17, 2011 or while supplies last

For more information on how to start saving today contact: sales@keycodemedia.com or 818-303-3900