Post Magazine

August 2013

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post positions The storage dilemma N A look at 4K's needs today, and the future of storage. 46 myself know of several Detroit TV shows from when I was a young man that no longer exist. They can no longer be watched because the tapes were simply overwritten as the shows were not viewed as important (and tapes were expensive). How will we solve this problem? Unfortu- STORING & securing IT ALL I think the most troubling aspect of all of this for me is that as more data is gathered and stored, it's stored less "permanently." Some of the most secure data in human history is inscribed on clay tablets. Five thousand years later, it remains and can even be read and understood. Yet some wonderful silent films from only 100 years ago are gone forever, simply because the film rotted away. I By Steve Modica CTO Small Tree Oakdale, MN ot long ago, a co-worker suggested I watch the movie Side by Side (http:// with Keanu Reeves and Martin Scorsese. It's a beautifullydone documentary on the evolution of technology in the movie-making industry. Keanu walks us through the long, sometimes nonintuitive migration from film to digital video over the years. I highly recommend watching this movie if you're curious how video has whittled its way from being a toy that was laughed off in the industry, to being "the norm" for just about all cinematic productions. Of course, this interests me because as things move to digital, filmmakers are not just storing digital intermediaries to be rendered back out to film again, they are also storing back-ups of the source media, DIs, renders, scratch files and final products. That's a lot of storage and it's no longer "temporary." Of course, this phenomenon is not going away, nor is it remaining stagnant. 4K video is only the beginning. 4K video is simply the "good enough" plateau that allows the new technology to begin its own unique evolution as time and future advances grind it away until it's supplanted by some other method of telling our stories. Isn't it possible that one day we will simply point multiple 360 capture-bots toward the action and have them capture all depths, and all activity within their range? 3D wouldn't simply be an artifact of "fooling" our human vision with split images. We would have the ability to freeze frame anything at any time and spin it 360 degrees (horizontally or vertically) and focus in at any depth. What we see would be dynamically rendered from all of the available bot images of the action. Rather than 13 cameras on the Super Bowl, why not 500, each of which is capturing the entire field and whose output is being seamlessly rendered into an interactive pallet that viewers pay big dollars to manipulate, so they can see whether the pass was really tipped as it crossed over the offensive line. POSSIBLE SOLUTION At least part of the solution is being worked on by computer scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz. They've invented a distributed, long-term storage system called Pergamum, which uses hard disks, Ethernet networks and Flash memory to store data using very little power for very long periods. Further, the system does not care what the underlying storage is, so holographic or Post • August 2013 optical media could be integrated in time. Hitachi has also invented a quartz glass storage method that allows data to be stippled onto quartz in such a way that it can be read back for millions of years. What I find interesting about these approaches is not whether or not they can In Side by Side, Keanu Reeves looks at the evolution of filmmaking. nately, it does not appear to be very clear from my vantage point. Magnetic domains on disk platters are rapidly giving way to solidstate disks that quietly lose data when left powered off for long periods (think years). The sad fact is that as our data grows larger and larger, the individual elements that make it up (clips, movies, YouTube videos) become worth less and less. We have to continue filling the distribution pipelines at an ever-increasing pace and there's no time to sit around wondering about the longevity of "grumpy cat" video. To complicate matters, each clip is rendered in newer and more complex codecs to help shrink them and make them easier to store, edit and stream. While each of these codecs may have a lifespan of years or decades, what is that in human history, but a blink? How will we read these files one day when their physical media can't be read and their codecs are no longer supported? work. Surely, they can be made to work. The question is whether any of us will make the investment in time and money to actually store any of our material in this way. Think about the projects you have on your main storage today. Would you pay 2X or 3X what you paid for your existing storage to save these projects for your ancestors one million years from now? Who among us wants to follow Nelson Henderson's admonition that "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit?" Who among us thinks so highly of our work (local sports highlights perhaps?) that we want to pay to save it for millions of years? Small Tree will continue to integrate "Best of Breed" technologies into its storage and networking products so you can effectively store and edit your work. We believe these technologies will last you for many years and hopefully bridge you to the next amazing technology. Perhaps all the 100s of Terabytes you generate this year will fit onto a tiny thumb drive that you keep in your desk drawer (with another copy in your night stand). It's impossible for any of us to look at all this data and know what deserves long-term storage. I hope we can find ways to store it all, so that one day, thousands of years from now, children wondering about "baseball" can find those highlights and see a real little league game, with loud parents and kids picking grass in the outfield.

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