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Post Production for UHDTV – Is Your Facility Ready?

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It’s a simple fact of life that organizations working in the broadcast space need a strategic approach to technology adoption.

For post-production companies keeping a watchful eye on the constant evolution of acquisition formats and delivery standards, staying ahead of the curve can be quite a daunting exercise.

How can organizations, both large and small, deal with this constantly changing landscape where bigger is always better in the eyes of clients? How do we overcome the challenges of maintaining workflow efficiency and profitability through optimized shared storage infrastructure? And, what will be the impact of current and future high-resolution formats as part of UHDTV’s evolution?

Challenges posed by UHDTV and Evolving Acquisition Formats

 

Not too long ago, post-production facilities were happy to take any project format that came in the door, knowing that they would convert all media to a “house codec” so that their editing and finishing applications would perform in a predictable manner. Over time, as Apple, Avid, Adobe, and other creative toolsets became able to manage various formats natively, transcoding to the “house codec” started to seem like a waste of time and potential loss of quality. However, dealing with camera-original media exposes the limitations of the surrounding infrastructure. Networking and shared storage components, in particular, are often not prepared for the demands that these formats can make on the system bandwidth.

So, why are some producers requesting access to camera-native formats? First, modern production crews have the capability to shoot in high-resolution formats like 2160p, 4k, and even 6k. Having already paid for the equipment and talent, it’s unlikely that the clients will be happy to go all the way from post-production to delivery in 1080, never seeing the original pristine footage. Aside from the perception of image quality during post, there’s a real need to have access to the native images.

Productions delivering 1080 are often shooting in larger formats to give post-production extra latitude for framing and re-positioning as the story requires. Likewise, colorists will demand the pristine image directly from the camera sensor, and then decompress and delayer those images so they have the greatest control.

Finally, programs delivering in HD will still want to archive a greater than HD version of their program for better shelf life and resale of their content in the future. Despite all these advantages, 1080 HD is still preferred for online content, corporate video, and sports productions. Many crews won’t be using the 4k+ cameras, and content is often being re-purposed from SD or HD stock, allowing the facility to offer a compressed HD workflow that will be easier on the budget. For all these reasons, the storage system feeding media to these various client workstations needs to have the flexibility to deliver the bandwidth required for these high-resolution native files when required, while avoiding a position of “over-kill” when handling basic HD editorial content.

Invest today in hi-res versatility and exploit tomorrow’s workflow opportunities

 

Investments made today in storage architecture need to include plans for going beyond merely 4k, but to 8k, higher frame rates, and new color spaces. Each of those challenges is spelled out in the UHDTV specification and will be phased in over time.

This constant evolution of acquisition formats requires exponential bandwidth handling for at least some clients on the network. The key is, therefore, to invest in storage that offers the maximum flexibility so that there is no need to move media between different storage systems when schedules are tight, forcing a team to wait while everything is reconfigured.

A truly valuable shared storage environment gives you choices for connectivity, choices for multi-user collaboration, and choices for the fastest possible speed when finishing programs at the highest resolutions.

In order to maximize productivity, it takes careful planning to avoid roadblocks. Wherever possible, system administrators should leverage the infrastructure they currently have, while ensuring client workstations can maintain flexibility with fully collaborative and ultra-high performance feature sets. The technology is available, it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. For more information on this critical business issue, why don’t you download your free copy of Facilis’ White Paper – go to https://facilis.com/product/white-papers/

  by James McKenna