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Recent Blog Posts in April 2014

April 29, 2014
  4K workflow in the cloud?
Posted By Tom Coughlin
At the 2014 NAB show there was a lot of buzz around media workflows using the cloud. This article will look at developments at Aframe, Avere, Cloud Sigma, DDN, HDS, IBM (including Aspera), Quantum, SAN Solutions, Scality, Violin Memory and Zadara. In an earlier article we discussed the Avid Everywhere initiative that also includes access to online content.

Quantum showcased three new StorNext Pro Solutions, which are based upon the re-architected StorNext 5 platform. According to the company, StorNext Pro Studio is a 100 percent Xsan-compatible solution to refresh or enhance existing Xsan storage. StorNext Pro 4K is optimized for 4K workflows and includes an SSD-based metadata controller for rapid access of content. StorNext Pro Production provides a complete storage platform spanning content production to library management.

Quantum also demonstrated a StorNext-based 4K collaborative workflow across a data center and a remote private cloud, leveraging its Lattus object storage system, Levels Beyond's Reach Engine, Telestream's Vantage and Adobe Anywhere. The demonstration included ingest, transcoding and proxy generation, with the amazing Tier IV Switch SUPERNAP facility in Las Vegas serving as the cloud.  

Quantum says that with this cloud-based workflow, creative teams can share content in realtime over multiple, geographically dispersed locations while maintaining a single, highly durable asset repository.  These teams can also replicate assets among multiple sites for resiliency and faster access. This workflow also provides the flexibility to optimize the security and integrity of content management, scale capacity up or down to meet short-term needs, and incorporate business continuity and long-term preservation of content over its lifecycle.

Avere, a company known for storage supporting high performance video applications such as rendering and transcoding, introduced its FXT filer accelerators providing multi-tiered caching to support access to video stored in public or private cloud services. The resulting Cloud NAS was shown supporting Cleversafe private cloud storage, Amazon S3 public cloud storage as well as Amazon's higher latency Glacier storage.  

180 IOPS for all three configurations, while significantly slower than some local storage solutions, including the FXT 3800 itself is nevertheless impressive and could facilitate the increased use of public and even private cloud storage in media workflows.

DDN was promoting its own WOS object storage system as way to store online content in a private object storage cloud. The product is targeted for Active Archive and Web-based content collaboration with high resolution and frame rate content. According to the company, DDN WOS offers 10K larger namespace and 50 percent less power cooling and rack space than EMC Isilon. Deluxe was available to give some background on how they had used DDN products to increase their productivity.

HDS was partnering with several companies at the NAB as well as having its own exhibit with a focus on managing big data in media workflows. The company's NAB focus was on storage solutions for digital content delivery and the management of media repositories locally or in the cloud. HDS was the Gold sponsor of FIMS (Framework for Interoperable Media Services) at NAB, focusing on media workflow management with the FIMS repository service.

Aspera, now part of IBM, was mentioned by many partner storage companies at the NAB show. Aspera supports cloud storage using Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, IBM SoftLayer, Google Cloud Platform and OpenStack.  Aspera is widely used in the professional video industry for high-speed data transfer technology over the Internet. Akamai, Level 3 and Limelight use Aspera Upload Acceleration to Akamai NetStorage to allow using Aspera's FASP technology to upload digital assets at extreme speeds to Akamai's cloud-based online storage platform. IBM was also discussing its own Active Media Storage that allows combining object storage with on-line data analytics.  

Cloud Sigma provides an all SSD cloud with the same price as HDD storage ($/GB). The company is one of the partners to Zadara offering block access to remote cloud content. Block access provides better performance since it involves less overhead that object storage.  According to Cloud Sigma block based cloud storage has the same price point as object and the company says that many hyperscale facilities are moving back to block storage from object storage. The company sees greater value in block storage combined with Software Defined Networks (SDN), data sharing and file acceleration.  

Zadara was showing how its enterprise storage as a service using onsite storage with file and block access, combined with colocation and cloud storage services can provide a good combination of faster local storage with a larger content storage outside the user data center, can be used in media workflows. The onsite local storage as well as the remote storage are sold as part of a storage service package. Zadara was included in offerings from partners at the NAB show, such as Cloud Sigma.

In some other related developments: Aframe announced the launch of its 3.0 Version offering increased automation, offering additional efficiencies in video storage, production and distribution as well as wireless camera support for Sony and Panasonic. Scality was showing an object storage solution supporting PB scale online storage and utilizing Aspera and other online data transport technologies.  SAN Solutions announced it ultra-low latency cloud for media storage (SAN Metro Media), Violin Memory teamed up with iTalkBB, a telecommunications provider to show on-demand video streaming system optimization using Violin Maestro all-flash appliances and Violin 6000 Series all-flash arrays.  
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April 29, 2014
  A gaggle of pro cameras at NAB 2014
Posted By Tom Coughlin
Content capture is where the rush of content storage begins. At the 2014 NAB show, new cameras and storage devices support greater frame-rates, higher bit depth and more cameras. This piece will talk about the new production cameras for 4K and technology demonstrations for 8K content capture. 

Arri was showing its Amira documentary-style camera, initially introduced at the 2013 IBC. The Amira records HD (1080) or 2K images with high dynamic range (14 stops) and with speeds up to 200fps. In order to support the high data rates required for 200fps the Amira uses SanDisk Extreme Pro C-Fast 2 compact flash memory cards. These cards provide up to 120GBs of storage capacity and data transfer speeds up to 450MB/s. The Amira aims at the market currently filled by cameras such as the Canon c300 and the Sony F5.

Codex announced that it is working with Panasonic to deliver a compact high-speed 4K uncompressed Codex Vault RAW recorder for Panasonic's VariCam 35 camera, supporting V-RAW data rates up to 120fps. The device directly connects with a VariCam 35 camera providing a compact and lightweight camera recording solution. The product will be released in Autumn 2014.

Panasonic unveiled its 4K VariCam professional video camera, which shoots in 4K RAW with 4K frame rates up to 120fps. The company also introduced a 2/3-inch VariCam high-speed camera that does 1080p up to 240fps. The VariCam supports expressP2 cards for 4K/24p and microP2 cards for HD and 2K. The company's camera recorder module is interchangeable between both these cameras.

Sony introduced a DSLR camera, the a7S with a 12.2 megapixel sensor for HD recording up to 120fps and 4K recording through HDMI to an external recorder. Ikegami had a number of high-resolution cameras on display, as did JVC. Grass Valley revealed a camera for the live-sports market, the LDX 4K camera including 3X and 6X slow motion.

Vision Research is known for its specialty cameras, particularly high speed cameras known for their use in slow-motion video. At the 2014 NAB show, the Phantom Flex4K cinema camera sported a super-35mm 4K sensor with low noise and high dynamic range. It is capable of shooting from 15fps up to 1,000fps at 4K and up to 2,000fps at 2K/1080p.  The CineMag IV recording unit has capacities up to 2TBs.  

AJA introduced the CION 4K/UHD and 2K/HD production camera.   This product can capture up to 12 stops of dynamic range with high quality recording of 4K (4096x2160), UHD (3820x2160), 2K (2048x1080) and HD (1920x1080) video with frame rates up to 120fps in 4K or UHD. The CION uses SSD cards to provide up to 512GBs of storage capacity

Blackmagic Design's Ursa camera includes dual RAW and ProRes recorders with a 35mm 4K sensor and 12 stops of dynamic range and records 4K at 60fps. The dual recorders use the SanDisk CFast memory cards (like the Arri Amira camera). These features are supplied in a camera with a base price of less than $6,000.

8K was on display from NHK at the 2014 NAB Futures Exhibits and Ikegami had an 8K technology exhibit. Content capture at 4K is moving more into the mainstream and is starting to appear in workflows and finished content. The next generation of 8K content, probably to be introduced early in the next decade, is already in early stages of development. NAB provides a window on current products and future video developments.
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