Digital Storage For Media And Entertainment

For 9 years, Coughlin Associates has been running a survey of media and entertainment professionals on their uses of digital storage for content creation and capture, post production, content distribution as well as archiving and preservation. This has provided insights on developments in digital storage for rich media applications. This article and a talk that Tom Coughlin will give at the 2018 Creative Storage Conference on June 7, 2018 in Culver City, CA (www.creativestorage.org) explore some of the results from the 2018 and earlier surveys. Tom Coughlin is the organizer of the Creative Storage Conference.

Digital storage for the M&E industry has demand characteristics often very different from typical IT storage because of the performance requirements of real-time video in capture, editing and post-production as well as distribution. On the other hand, the ever-growing archive of long-tail digital content and increasing digitized historical analog content is swelling the demand for cold as well as warm archives using tape, optical discs and hard drive arrays.

Professional video cameras are undergoing rapid evolution, driven by higher resolution content as well as multi-camera content capture, including stereoscopic virtual reality content capture. The figure below shows the percentage of various recording media used by the 2018 survey recipients in professional video cameras.

Coughlin Associates

Content Capture Storage Media Distribution

Note that about 59.6% said that they used external storage devices to capture content from their cameras in 2018 (this was about the same in 2017 and 2016). 82.3% of the 2018 participants said that over 80% of their content was created as digital content (this was 85.7% in 2017).

In video post-production, there was a general increase in network storage (NAS and SAN) and a decline to between 40-50% on direct attached storage (DAS) as the number of people working in a post-production facility increases. 83% of the participants used DAS in 2018 with 1-50 TB as the most popular size DAS with 12.1% of the participants having more than 50 TB of DAS storage. 12% reported that they were using flash memory in their post-production work.

58% of the participants had NAS or SAN with 68.6% having 50 TB or more of network storage in 2018 with 15% having more than 500 TB of NAS/SAN storage in 2018. 48% of the participants used cloud-based storage for editing and post-production in 2018 with 56% having 1 TB or more of storage capacity in the cloud.

Average hours on a central content delivery system was about 1,241 hours with 372 hour ingested monthly in 2018. 43% of respondents had more than 5% of their content on edge servers and 48% used flash memory on their edge servers and 39% on their central delivery servers in 2018.

32% of participants had over 2,000 hours of content in a long-term archive in 2018. 35% said that their annual archive growth rate was greater than 6% in 2017 with 24% adding 1,000 hours or more to their archive annually in 2018. About 19% had more than 2,000 hours of unconverted analog content in 2018 with 6% having over 5,000 hours of unconverted analog content. The average rate of analog to digital conversion was 4% in 2018.