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November/December 2021

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Page 23 of 39 22 POST NOV/DEC 2021 OUTLOOK STORAGE he amount of data created in the next three years is projected to exceed the volume of data from the last three decades, according to an IDC report. This explosive growth is fueled, in part, by the ongoing content boom, which has resulted in large data work- loads for animation and VFX-heavy proj- ects, as well as increasing demand for high-quality 4K/UltraHD and vivid HDR content. By 2023, however, 80 percent of data is expected to be unstructured, pos- ing major bottlenecks for creative shops. Getting ahead of it requires a smarter approach to locating, organizing and analyzing stored assets. The imminent influx of data may require ample storage, but ramping up storage is expensive. Existing on-prem- ises post infrastructures are also often limited in capacity and unable to scale to support continued growth. Rather than expand storage, implementing a stream- lined solution for better data structuring is the more practical strategy. With it in place, a facility can easily index, search and generate reporting on where stored files live; how they are accessed, used, and archived; who is using them; and how they are trans- ferred between locations. Understanding associated storage costs on a per-file basis is also hugely beneficial. Tracking all this information via spreadsheets, as it's largely done today, is impractical and unsustainable. To this end, building out a data strategy that can centralize stored files and make the associated metadata more transparent can give businesses a competitive edge. Software like AJA Diskover Media Edition is a powerful solution emerging to meet the need. Tailored to address the unique data structure demands of M&E professionals, it gives creative facilities a centralized hub to search, find and an- alyze media asset data originating from on-premises to remote and cloud stor- age. It was designed to resolve industry specific challenges — such as finding and indexing newly restored online assets from local, remote and cloud storage, LTO tapes and removable hard drives — offering a global view of assets to help production decision makers better understand storage usage. In addition to working to solve this data-structuring dilemma, AJA has also been focused on helping creative profes- sionals and studios move more seam- lessly between a diversity of platforms, protocols and connectivity types. In the age of remote workflows, this means support for IP and protocols like NewTek NDI, which is gaining traction. The trend inspired our development of Bridge Live, as well as Bridge NDI 3G, which provides a gateway between NDI, SDI, streaming codecs and secure, low-latency protocols utilizing the public internet. As distributed workflows become the new norm across the content creation industry, fusing NDI technologies with SDI infrastructure will prove a winning strategy, allowing facilities to get the most mileage out of their existing gear, while also taking advantage of the benefits of IP video ad- vancements for remote workflows. In the next year, we expect to see new developments that will propel both NDI and data structuring workflows into the future, unleashing a host of new possibili- ties for creative facilities around the world. TACKLING UNSTRUCTURED DATA PAINS IN POST BY BRYCE BUTTON DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT MARKETING AJA VIDEO SYSTEMS AJA.COM T STANDARDS T he Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) was established in 2018 in partnership between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Linux Foundation with the aim of serving as a neutral forum to drive collaboration and development of open source tools and standards across the entertainment industry. This past year was our most productive yet, with the adoption of MaterialX as a new hosted project, the formation of multiple new Working Groups, and major strides forward in diversity and inclusion initiatives. MaterialX was adopted by ASWF in July 2021, becoming the Foundation's seventh hosted project. In my day job as R&D supervisor at ILM, I've been involved with MaterialX since its creation. We released it as open source in 2017, and it has since grown into a widely used file format and set of libraries for achieving material representation and transfer, integrated in applications and standards such as Maya, 3ds Max, Substance Designer, Arnold, RenderMan and USD. In 2021 we've also introduced sev- eral notable new Working Groups (WG) at ASWF, including the Asset Repository Working Group, the Review and Approval Working Group, and most recently, the Rust Working Group. The Asset Repository WG is playing a pivotal role in establishing a free and open platform, agreed upon by all the studios, with production-level assets that anyone in the industry can use for education, R&D and testing. This can help our whole industry develop new algorithms and improve education. The Review and Approval WG is doing the important work of evaluating how we as an industry can agree on better and more standardized applications and li- braries to review our content in a similar way across studios. And the Rust WG is working to develop Rust and C bindings for C++ libraries commonly used in our industry, which will improve performance and stability for some of these estab- lished projects. One of the main ways I've been involved with ASWF is in my role as co-chair for the Diversity & Inclusion Working Group. Some of our successes over this past year have been our VFX Careers webinar series, which helped us reach a wide variety of students in both traditional and non-tradition- al programs. Our inaugural Summer Learning Program was also a hit, where we provided free access to Gnomon workshops and mentors throughout the industry to help guide students who may be under-resourced or unsure of which path they want to pursue. As we look to the year ahead, opportu- nities for open source tools and standards include virtual production, multi-user collaboration tools, and machine learning and AI technologies. THE STATE OF OPEN SOURCE IN VFX & ANIMATION BY RACHEL ROSE ILM R&D SUPERVISOR & CO-CHAIR FOR ASWF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION WORKING GROUP ASWF.IO.

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