The Media of the Future Depends Upon Storage

Almost every day, I get an email from someone trying to decide what computer to buy. And I have a number of articles on my website on how to configure a new computer for video editing.

But, what surprises me is how few questions I get asking about what storage to buy. Yet, as we move into 4K, 6K, 8K and HDR images, storage needs explode. Recently, during a Digital Production Buzz interview, Gary Watson, cofounder and Chief Technical Officer for Nexsan told me that a 4K HDR video file requires 1.8 GB / second of storage bandwidth. And 8K files are four TIMES bigger than that!

NOTE: Don’t ever assume you can edit 6K or 8K files “natively.” Both FCP X and Premiere easily support proxy files. Edit using proxies. Color grade using camera native. Both you and your storage will be grateful.

1.8 GB / second is faster than Firewire, Thunderbolt 1, even Thunderbolt 2. Yet, far too many editors assume that the speed of the computer is all they need to consider when buying a system that will “future-proof their editing.” Your computer is safe, most likely for years to come; but not your storage.

Things get even more complex as you start to share storage between multiple editors. Suddenly, issues such as switching, cabling, even connection protocols – in addition to Ethernet or FibreChannel speeds – become both relevant and limiting.

Our storage is critically important – and far too often underestimated – in the operation of any video editing system.

Many projects today are shooting hundreds of terabytes of camera data, not including visual effects work. When you combine hundreds of terabytes of storage with the “shoot as much as you like for free” aspect of digital media, we end up with projects that have thousands of shots, often with multiple shots contained within the same clip.

How do we find what we need? Greg Crosby, Director of Product Line Management for G-Technology told me a story after a recent interview that they hired a production team to shoot a video for G-Tech. They shot 27 terabytes of data, but the deadline was so short, they didn’t have time to review all the media they shot.

After they delivered the project, they went back through the footage and discovered all kinds of great shots that they would have put into the video – if only they could have found them in time during the editing process.

As editors, we are really, really good at organizing our media – now, we need the ability to find all those great shots when we need them. I’m expecting big news at NAB about affordable media management systems. I’ll keep you informed as I learn more.

In the meantime, here’s a blog I wrote recently on what you need to consider for your storage as you expand into larger frame sizes, faster frame rates and higher-bit depth HDR recording.

The iMac Pro is an exciting system, even iMacs are outstanding editing computers. But you’ll need to connect it to a high-performance, high-capacity storage system to make the most of your media. Storage, more than any other component, will determine our success in editing the media of the future.

Just something I’m thinking about as we get closer to all the new announcements at NAB 2018.

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