Diverse media workflows, new technologies, and the rising demand for content are expanding the need for reliable, real-time shared storage. These and other trends impacting the use of real-time media storage and pointing to what might lie ahead were the focus of a recent Avid webinar featuring storage expert Tom Coughlin, creator of the Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment Report (Coughlin Report). The Coughlin Report analyzes requirements and media storage trends in worldwide content acquisition to deliver a comprehensive look at where and how storage is being employed throughout M&E.
In the webinar, “Storage Trends with Tom Coughlin,” Coughlin pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on most facets of production and post. The shut-down accelerated the use of virtualization, remote post-production workflows and distributed editorial teams, and also led to the adoption of faster and less expensive production schedules. The common factor behind each of these changes? The cloud.
“This new world depends upon cloud-based resources – and also good planning – to be effective,” Coughlin explained. “Post-production workflows now use local storage and memory, network memory, and also, increasingly, cloud storage, particularly if they’re incorporating remote collaboration.”
Coughlin focused on several emerging technologies during his presentation. AI, for instance, has become an important element throughout digital video production, he said. The ability to automate the creation of richer metadata makes it easier to find, edit, and curate media assets. AI can also be used to reduce storage demands, helping to lower the cost of some media workflows. “I think AI and machine learning are really starting to turn into actual features that people can take advantage of in day-to-day production,” Coughlin said.
He also shared his projections about where the industry is headed. While legacy technology such as magnetic tape is still widely used for archiving, solid-state drives (SSDs) are gaining traction as primary storage for applications requiring fast access to content, such as finishing and color grading. “The technology we use to store content is changing to address higher resolutions and higher frame rates,” Coughlin said. “Greater dynamic range and multiple camera projects increasingly require higher data rates for rich media workflows.”
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What does the future of storage look like?
Virtualized production, remote workflows, and global collaboration are here to stay, and the use of cloud storage will continue to grow. New storage and memory technologies will support continued M&E growth while simultaneously offering new benefits. For instance, the IEEE P2883 specification for media sanitization could broaden reuse of storage devices and the recycling of storage components, a shift that promotes sustainability by lowering carbon emissions from the use of storage devices.
Those are just a few of the advances on the horizon, according to Coughlin. “We've seen a lot of changes in the industry, in the business environment, and where people are putting their content in order to do the things they need to do to meet the needs of today’s workflows, as well as to control their costs,” he said.
To be sure, the future looks bright for users of shared storage technology. “Collaborative, remote work is driving the use of the cloud for media and entertainment workflows,” Coughlin commented. “We believe that this usage will grow in the coming years, increasing from about $1.5 billion in 2022 to about $3.2 billion by 2026.”
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