Definition December 2022 - Web


I t’s every filmmaker’s worst nightmare. You’ve braved the elements, spent hours capturing the perfect moment or scene and then the footage simply disappears. Remember, it happens to the biggest and the best. Pixar juggernaut Toy Story 2 was nearly lost for good in 1998 after one of the film’s animators accidentally deleted the root folder on the computer animation studio’s internal servers. However, technical director Galyn Susman, who was on maternity leave at the time, realised she had the only viable copy of the film on her home computer. Thanks to an unlikely heroine, Pixar was able to release Toy Story 2 , 3 and 4 , as well as the 2022 spin-off, Lightyear . Thankfully, tech continues to evolve at an exponential rate, and filmmakers now have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to storage. From tiny, robust memory cards to USBs, hard drives and the cloud, it’s time to hear from those truly in the know. WHERE DO YOU START? There seems to be as much choice as there are challenges. So, there is no one solution, according to Rowan Bray, managing director of Clear Cut Pictures. She says that each project gets a tailored workflow, offering a solution that suits its needs. Often, factors that determine the plan are whether the team wants full-resolution material or proxies – if they have mostly newly shot or archive footage, for example. “Generally, as much for insurance reasons as any other, rushes are backed up before they leave location/set, and a drive is designated to move material to and from the post house,” Bray explains. “We then copy the material to our nearline – a Tier 2 device intended for storage,

which was slightly less intensive, but followed a similar process. If it’s a big project rather than a smaller documentary, we would potentially have a data wrangler at the location.” Scott notes the process at Zig Zag is to hand the memory cards to the data wrangler as soon as they’ve been filled up. They would then back it up on a 4TB QNAP NAS drive. “We use it because it’s safe for copying – it has a number of individual drives inside called mirror backup,” he adds. “It basically copies your media card onto two different places on the main drive. The drive is then kept as the main backup for what’s just been filmed, but the media also gets put onto smaller transport drives like a Lacie, and then they are taken to the edit suite. Once we know the data has been ingested properly, the Lacie drive can come back to location to be used again. The cards must be compatible with whatever camera we have, so Sony XQD cards are what we

not editing. Thereafter, we create offline resolution proxies, which are ingested to our Tier 1 storage devices. Effectively, this means we act as the equivalent of a private data centre solution for our on-site and remote clients across all our buildings. This gives us flexibility and still delivers the most cost- effective solution for most.” Post houses have different approaches to storage and Bray says Clear Cut, as a rule, will not take camera cards in to directly copy and ingest. “The cards are too fragile,” she says. “There are exceptions that production companies undertake after due consideration, but it must not be undertaken lightly – insurance would not cover lost rushes.” The method of storage depends on the project, says Andy Scott, head of entertainment at Zig Zag Productions, the indie behind Player Pranks on Sky Max. “We make a couple of different football-related series – one called Ultimate Goal (BT Sport and Insight TV), which was shot all in 4K HDR. This ended up being a massive number of gigabytes for each hour of film. We shot with four Sony F55 cameras filming at the top resolution every day, all at the same time,” he says. “We also made The Football Academy for CBBC,

THE LAST DEFENCE A backup can mean the difference between a

completed project and total disaster

UNDER LOCK AND KEY Everyone has their own protocols, but nailing a system for storage is crucial

“Effectively, we act as the equivalent of a private data centre for our on-site and remote clients across all our buildings”

63. DECEMBER 2022

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