13 Nov 2013

Q&A with GB Labs - Storage for UltraHD, MAM and DIT

Q&A with GB Labs - Storage for UltraHD, MAM and DIT

What do you think will be the big themes and issues for the next 12 months?

We have already helped users overcome the perennial of driver errors, incompatible adapters and complex capacity expansion. So now, thankfully, when it comes to data storage, organisations can now start to plan for the future and not waste time on continuous system maintenance and endlessly configuring workstation drivers.

Firstly, and not surprisingly, the demand for 4K-ready storage is fast becoming a key concern. Secondly, users are starting to integrate asset management and automated media processing with their storage platform, a development that can potentially deliver huge rewards. Finally, the rise of fast Internet networks and the arrival of new collaborative solutions from the likes of Adobe, Forbidden Technologies and Telestream has been an exciting development for all types of content creators.

How are you preparing for UltraHD?

Broadcasters are taking a serious look at originating and delivering at 4K. However, there is a potential problem. 4K data rates using ProRes, and the intra frame XAVC codecs can be well above 80MB/s. Uncompressed or in DPX format, bitrates are incredibly high, overwhelming most existing storage units.

Fortunately, editors do not need to revert to an offline / online workflow. With our SSD- based SPACE storage, multiple editors can benefit from data rates in excess of 3GB/s and a no-compromise online editing experience.

Is UltraHD storage real-world tested?

Because 4K technology is relatively new, many vendors are still short on experience in mission-critical scenarios. As a British manufacturer, GB Labs was fortunate to be part of the London Olympics: one of our customers, Crystal Graphics, was contracted to produce motion graphics in multiple resolutions and multiple formats to the highest possible standard using Adobe and Autodesk graphics tools. With a team of 100 creatives accessing the same central storage system, there was no tougher testing ground. As a result, SPACE users have enormous confidence in our next-generation technology. It’s not buggy and it’s not beta!

How you helping users manage their data?

From the outset, analysts recommended intelligent file and metadata management. They knew that even a few months’ tapeless production could create data mayhem. Yet many users, from freelancers to broadcasters, opted for low-cost direct attached storage, external drives, and an ill-fitting jigsaw of incompatible storage arrays.

When we work with clients who took this approach, we offer transitional technology – SPACE Bridge and NanoSPACE - that can quickly and inexpensively convert eSata and Fibre Channel storage to work and inter-operate over Ethernet networks. With this in place, organisations can centralise, protect and begin sharing media. They can transfer files onto dedicated primary SPACE storage and nearline ECHO arrays for an incredibly fast, seamless and safe editing platform. We also offer fast LTO tape systems to offload and copy projects.

Our emphasis now is to help organisations develop automated data routines to hierarchically manage data onto the most appropriate silo and regularly backup files on and off site. Our developers are continually certifying third-party tools that can further enhance the user experience including solutions from Marquis, Metus, Cantemo and CatDV. We’ve also developed a cloud solution that’s attracting strong interest.

Is the film industry on your radar?

As well as UltraHD storage for film facilities, we manufacture on-set DIT stations. The most recent – 4K Duo – has a fast RAID and twin LTO-6 drives for infinite, protected storage. It’s portable and can be used to undertake a rough cut on location and to produce proxy files for local and remote viewing. 4K Duo joins Midi SSD and Mini SSD as high-performance mobile solutions for film makers.

Ben Pearce, Sales and Marketing Director – GB Labs.