When analyzing post-production workflows and the infrastructure behind the creativity, storage is a major element underpinning the entire set-up. Storage can come in many different formats, fast shared NAS storage, removable hard drives, LTO tapes, removable SSD media, object storage, or the emergence of cloud-based storage services. With all of these options the whole video production workflow can become unstructured and complex. With complexity comes the potential for delays, mistakes, and additional unforeseen costs.
Within the Media & Entertainment world, a range of different video production workflows have evolved across diverse media companies including broadcasters, advertisers, film, and TV production companies, as well as post-production houses. Whether they are editing, color grading, or creating VFX scenes, it is recognized that ease of collaboration, finding media assets, high-performance, and controlling costs are key attributes to operating a successful post-production department. One major element often considered unstructured, is rushes ingest – that is taking the collection of raw camera footage from the on-set location and making it quickly available to the entire creative team.
Once a scene on location is complete, the raw footage from the cameras needs to be transferred to the post-production facility. Different production companies have different methods but typically, the digital video files are copied from the camera cards onto removable hard drives and a local mobile RAID device. This method allows the camera cards to be immediately redeployed while the hard drives are shipped. To prevent data loss through hardware failure, many productions have at least two mobile RAID storage devices as an on-set repository, typically costing around $10K each. On Netflix productions, they will advise using different hard-drive manufacturers and disk batch numbers for resilience, providing extra protection.
Copying video files to hard drives is not without risk – they can fail, and files can become corrupted. Logistically before shipping, all the hard drives need to be labeled and, for safety purposes, couriered with a premium service to their destination. They are not only shipped to editors but also to directors and other stakeholders in the production process. Typically done by a team known as data wranglers, raw footage collection, management, and shipping can take an excessive amount of time and resources. Wranglers often work late nights, becoming a pinch-point of stress and extra cost.
Data wrangling can take hours, and it’s not unusual for data wranglers to work late into the night. Their overtime and sustenance costs must be considered. On-site RAID and removable hard-drive costs can run into thousands. Some production companies are paranoid, given the production cost, any data loss could be catastrophic, so they also create a backup to LTO tape.
Then there is the cost for premium delivery of hard drives to a post-production department. It’s not unusual for hard drives to arrive late, and editors sit around waiting for the rushes to arrive. Then, ingesting large media files into the central storage system can take hours. Ten editors waiting a couple of hours for content can cost the production company an extra $2000 in lost productivity.
The broadcast industry has been evolving to cloud-based workflows over the last few years, with cloud adoption accelerated by the Covid pandemic as people worked remotely. The benefits of media cloud workflows are well-versed and numerous. Collaboration between dispersed stakeholders becomes much more seamless where content can be easily shared. Hardware resources can be spun up as required, and peak demands can be easily mitigated against. Costs can be controlled as SaaS services only need purchasing for the duration of a project and are budgeted as an OPEX pay-as-you-go model. Infrastructure does not need to be purchased with a massive upfront investment and written off over a period of time in the hope that it pays for itself against numerous future projects. With the cloud, there is no concern about other fixed costs such as data center expenses, additional IT staff, power, and real-estate costs.
However, there are perceived performance disadvantages in the cloud, especially when editing in the cloud. Depending on the type of video codec, cloud video editing used to be dependent on available bandwidth and latency. Until now. LucidLink solved the performance issue of cloud deployment for creative workflows.
LucidLink was created to solve the issue of high-performance workloads in the cloud. LucidLink developed Filespaces with the features and performance you would expect from an on-premise hardware NAS, leveraging all the benefits that cloud storage offers.
LucidLink is used by creative personnel with their local editing applications to harness the power of cloud workflows. LucidLink has developed an extremely innovative block-level access protocol to files, complete with a specialized pre-caching algorithm that enables the high performance needed for media access and online manipulation.
Filespaces provides a uniform shared, global file system namespace across any device connected to the Internet. A Filespace can be accessed and shared with users located anywhere in the world. This makes it ideal for media ingest workflows. Rather than utilizing removable hard drives and onset RAID devices, rushes can be directly uploaded on-set, safe in the knowledge that the cloud infrastructure has its own high resilience and protection. Different directories can be created for different policies, whether it’s for different stakeholders, departments, scenes, or however you wish to structure your ingest folders. Most importantly, it is one file giving one single source of the truth. Replicating and duplicating files across different storage platforms leads to many different versions, which is avoided by using LucidLink. High-cost VIP couriering services are no longer required, and the media is instantly available to the editors.
As identified above, the key components of a successful post-production workflow are ease of collaboration, finding media assets, performance, and controlling costs. Traditionally, performance was the issue of a complete end-to-end post-production workflow in the cloud, which LucidLink has solved. LucidLink removes the complexity from post-production ingest, and easily saves tens of thousands of dollars as part of a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model.
But as a final note, not all cost savings can be measured in dollars. Post-production can be a highly stressful industry, and any working practices that can improve mental health will only be a positive contribution. LucidLink helps to create a happier and more productive workforce by removing the late-night stress for data wranglers, eliminating the wait for editors, provisioning massive amounts of storage for IT, and enabling the freedom of remote work for editors, graders, and VFX specialists. LucidLink is the ultimate upgrade for your post-production facility – schedule a demo with us to find out more.
SaaS offering, no hardware or IT support required
End-to-end security encryption
Works with any object storage
Instant on-demand file access from anywhere
Works with any OS