12 May 2014

4K Post Production Workflows - NOW!

4K Post Production Workflows - NOW!

4K Production at NAB

Quite predictably, NAB 2014 hosted the launch of a raft of new 4K and UltraHD cameras.

There were much anticipated releases from the likes of Panasonic and Blackmagic Design as well as the AJA’s surprise with its Cion. Producers now have a whole spread of high- resolution camera systems, from the pocket friendly DSLR to the full cinema rig.

However, while capturing 4K footage may now be relatively straightforward, the editing and archive process is still a cause for concern for many. HD editors have become accustomed to cutting full resolution files and sharing data seamlessly over networks. With 4K, the post industry seems to have taken a backward step, adopting a proxy-based approach to 4K editing, fearing that their central storage, network and client workstations cannot cope with the high bandwidth required for online.

Thankfully, things are starting to change: the latest workstations and professional laptops are now up to the task of 4K content creation and NLE developers are all beginning to support native 4K editing. Even the concern that the new Mac Pro was limited to 1Gb Ethernet has been addressed, with a third-party Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis offering access to very fast network adapters. The final piece of the jigsaw has been the acceptance of new SSD- based central storage systems as a reliable editing platform.

Introducing Super Tier One

Traditional tier one storage units cannot cope with simultaneous multiple read/write operations in a shared 4K environment. This is why we at GB Labs introduced the concept of Super Tier One. This offers 10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet options, highly optimised SSD RAID technology, a new approach to intelligent data caching and industry-leading networking speeds. In our real-world tests, SPACE SSD is capable of stunning performance, supporting as many as 250 concurrent ProRes 422 HD streams.

We are now going a step further: at Broadcast Asia 2014 we are launching SSD Ultimate,which is capable of supporting 8K workflows.

Cost control

However, 4K online storage systems are still relatively expensive and lower in capacity compared with the expandable 96TB HD platform that we offer. Currently, it’s not realistic for workgroups to invest in hundreds of terabytes of 4K SSD-storage, so a data management process is essential. Thanks to intelligent storage technology, our 4K platforms can work autonomously to back up projects and replicate files onto tier one (online HD platforms) and tier two (nearline units). Furthermore, completed projects can be moved away from Super Tier One and securely archived on lower cost, high capacity drives, or offloaded to LTO-6. Crucially, this leaves users the capacity to handle new 4K jobs.

In the real world

This 4K workflow is already proving itself: GB Labs’ customer Crystal CG is very experienced in higher than HD environments. For the London 2012 Olympic Games, the company was tasked with supplying thousands of motion graphics in resolutions up-to and beyond 4K. Its 80 creatives needed simultaneous access to the storage so we installed a 28.8TB system that could sustain in excess of 6GB/s. The scale, time-sensitivity and importance of the Olympics meant a no-compromise SSD approach, working in tandem with tier one and two SPACE RAID arrays. Crystal CG’s success in delivering the most visually stunning event in history is testimony to the power and potential of today’s 4K storage.