Terabyte Tyranny

In an all electronic workflow, producers and directors cannot rely on video tapes or film as an emergency backup. Previously, a still photography or filmaker would keep their negative or positive, and strike new prints as needed. With the advent of digital photography, and soon in affordable digital filmmaking and video production, there is no physical backup, but only the bit buckets, which when arranged properly would describe a vast landscape, a human face, or an airplane landing.

In the still photography realm, image makers have embraced the new workflow, because they realize the potential for new creativity:

    Every copy of the image is an original
    Since the image is already digitized, it is easily shared
    Digital photos are more easily manipulated and cropped
    The arduous process of scanning film is eliminated

However, since the bits become supreme, over the film strip or video tape, special storage considerations must be analyzed and scrutinized. Also, still photography describes a single moment in time, while moving images records that same scene but at 24 to 60 frames per second, so a 2 MB still frame file, can become a 48 MB file per second for video, and with Panasonic DVCPRO HD codec 60 GB per hour. How does one store that much data for archiva purposesl and retrieval in the future?

Today, we have current technology, and very soon the future will be now (Blu-Ray Disc, holographic storage, VXA 3, etc). It used to take a simple trip to the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, to get a bead on storage, but for all practical purposes Comdex has ended, and may never return. Instead, we need to look to manufactucturer events and niche events like Macworld Expo, Storage Networking World, or AIIM Expo.

To manage and harness the growing terabyte requirements in entertainment consider these storage solutions:

Archival Storage Mechanisms
Storage Media Native Capacity (GB) Transfer Rate (GB/hr) Drive Cost* Media Cost*
LTO 1 100 57.6 $1725 $29
LTO 2 200 72 $1750 $30
LTO 3 400 245 $5015 $109
VXA 1 33 10.3 $467 $59
VXA 2 80 21.6 $922 $75
AIT 1 25 10.5 $670 $47
AIT 2 50 21.1 $996 $54
AIT 3 100 42.2 $1809 $60
AIT 4 200 84.4 $2942 $60
AIT-E 20 20 21.1 $437 $17
AIT-1 turbo 40 21.1 $535 $23
SAIT 500 105.5 $6474 $207
SDLT 600 300 126.6 $3506 $47
DVD+R 8X 4.38 37.2 $80 30¢
CD-R 24X 0.68 12.4 $30 12¢

* prices from summer 2005 survey