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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.

NewTek to Give Away $100,000 in Prizes at NAB 2011

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment

NewTek to Give Away $100,000 in Prizes at NAB 2011

Four lucky show attendees will win a TriCaster™ HD portable live production system

 

LAS VEGAS – NAB Show – March 28, 2011NewTek, a worldwide leader in video and 3D animation products, will give away four TriCaster™ TCXD850 HD portable live production systems as part of its TriCaster-A-Day Giveaway at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show. NAB attendees can find registration postcards on the front of the Show Daily distributed on Monday, April 11, and at the NewTek smart car HD portable live production vehicle parked in front of South Hall. Registration cards will also be available at NewTek Booth SL4514. 

Drawings will be held once a day beginning Monday, April 11 through Thursday, April 14. Winners will be notified by email.

In addition to the TriCaster-A-Day Giveaway, NewTek will host their annual “Broadcast Minds” event, bringing together some of the most successful digital media strategists in the industry. Panelists will discuss how companies can capitalize on the digital market, effectively. This event will be held Tuesday, April 12 from 6-8 p.m. PT at the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom.

For more information regarding NewTek at the NAB Show, visit: www.newtek.com/nab. For up-to-the-minute NAB details, follow NewTek on Facebook and Twitter.

With TriCaster, anyone can simultaneously produce, live stream, broadcast, project and record HD and SD network-style productions. A single operator or small team can switch between multiple cameras, virtual inputs and live virtual sets, while inserting clips, titles and motion graphics with multi-channel effects. TriCaster is used by broadcasters, webcasters, sports organizations, schools, houses of worship, government agencies and others to provide a new level of extended programming and content to their audiences.

Pricing and Availability
The TriCaster family of products in NTSC is available for education in North America starting at US$4,995, and multi-standard internationally starting at US$5,995. For more information, please visit www.keycodemedia.com or call 818-303-3900.

Limited Time – NAB Special Bundle Pricing: TriCaster TCXD850 and TriCaster TCXD850 CS at US$29,995

About NewTek (NAB Show Booth: SL4514)
Benefiting producers and artists with cost-effective and groundbreaking technologies, NewTek is a worldwide leader in portable live production, video editing, 3D animation and special effects tools, including the TriCaster™ product line, 3PLAY™ and LightWave 3D®. NewTek has won numerous industry accolades, including two Emmy® Awards.

Clients include: MTV, ESPN X Games, New York Giants, Fox News, BBC, NHL, Nickelodeon, CBS Radio, ESPN Radio, Fox Sports, USA TODAY, Adam Carolla Show, TWiT.TV, St. John’s University, NBA Development League, Diggnation, Streamin’ Garage, Buzz Out Loud, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Peter Himmelman’s “Furious World,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS), North American Aerospace Defense Command, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NewTek products have been used in feature films and television shows, including “Avatar,” “TinTin,” “Repo Men,” “V,” “Fringe,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “The Fairly OddParents” and more.

NewTek is privately owned and based in San Antonio, Texas.  For more information, please visit: www.newtek.com.

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Editors Lounge 8th Annual Pre-NAB Discussion (Key Code Media Burbank) Friday March 25, 2011

Alpha Dogs presents Editors Lounge

8th Annual Pre-NAB Discussion Panel
Our Famous Prognosticators Prognosticate… and the Sony OLED Monitor is Here!

Friday March 25, 2011

Our friends at Key Code Media are once again helping the Editors’ Lounge put on the famous (infamous?!) Pre-NAB Discussion Panel. This 8th rendition of our annual look ahead at NAB, seeks to enlighten us all with heated discussion about trends and predictions for post-production and the film/TV business for the rest of 2011 and beyond.

This year’s panel features:

Debra Kaufman (moderator) • Founder / Editor, MobilizedTV
Lucas Wilson • Director Business Development, 3ality Digital
Steve Cohen • Film+TV Editor / Blogger / Author “Avid Agility”
Mark Raudonis • VP Post Production, Bunim/Murray Prods
Michael Bravin • Technical Consultant / Founder, The Digital Picture Company
Terence Curren • Editor+Colorist / Founder, AlphaDogs

As a special treat, the Sony BVME250 OLED master monitor that was discussed at last month’s Editors’ Lounge will actually be on hand for you to oooh and aaah over.

Stay tuned for more updates as they develop!

When

Friday March 25, 2011

6:15pm-7pm Check-In, Networking

7pm-9pm Panel Discussion

As always Editors Lounge events are BYOB, this evening we’ll be providing eats from The Greasy Wiener food truck

Where

Key Code Media

270 South Flower Street

Burbank, CA 91502

(between Olive & Verdugo)

CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS

WE WILL HIT CAPACITY AT THIS EVENT, EARLY REGISTRATION IS RECOMMENDED!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER