David Austerberry /
05.12.2009
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Archive management evolves for file-based media

Archive management is fast evolving from the traditional climate-controlled warehouse of videotapes and film into something rather different. The rapid adoption of file-based workflows by broadcasters means that archive management is changing into an all-encompassing content management system.

There are several drivers behind this change. The old linear flow of programs — acquisition, post, publish and archive — is changing. Multichannel, multiformat distribution has led to far more repurposing of first-run programming to fill the thousands of hours of airtime. VOD and mobile is adding to the demands for repurposed programming.

This insatiable demand for content has led to the archive being constantly mined as program assets, not just as a repository for old material.

The next driver is the move from videotape to file-based operations. The classic IT solution to the management of data in a cost-effective manner is hierarchical storage management (HSM). Older files are retired to low-cost storage, usually data tape, and work in progress is kept on spinning disks.

HSM is designed for business workflows. Old records are rarely needed, so the need to restore information from the data tapes can be infrequent. The media and entertainment sector has different demands on a storage system. The files are very large, and high data transfer rates are needed to move data between disk and tape. For efficient use of robotics and tape drives, it is useful to be able to recall part of a file between designated time code values — a partial restore, not something a regular IT HSM would support.

However, the concept of tiered storage that lies at the heart of HSM offers cost/performance tradeoffs to optimize investment in a storage system. The typical broadcast storage system has three tiers. High-performance disk storage supports ingest, editing and playout. This could be 10K or 15K RPM SAS drives. Work in progress can be stored on a lower-cost nearline store of 7200 RPM SATA drives. Underpinning the disk storage, LTO-4 data tapes in a robotic library provide an archive, a backup and, if duplicated, disaster recovery.

As archive management has morphed into content storage management, three applications have become popular among broadcasters and the wider media and entertainment sector. The first is the migration of deteriorating videotape and film archives to digital media files. Once old material has been encoded to a digital file format, with color correction and noise reduction if necessary, then that file can be stored on data tape and automatically cloned to future data storage formats without further costs associated with digitization.

The second is managing the archive, but when content storage management is linked to a digital asset management system (DAM or MAM), then the archive can be reused with ease. A user can browse proxies of the archive and restore broadcast resolution as and when it is needed. This process is far more efficient than withdrawing a videotape and dubbing a viewing copy before the content can be seen.

The third is the use of data tape robots to archive and back up post production. An entire project can be stored as an AAF file, with associated media files. One or two years hence, the project can be restored in an hour or so, ready to edit a new version. Contrast this with the time to reacquire tens of source tapes, load EDLs, find production notes, etc.

Watch for more on this topic in July’s Broadcast Engineering World and November’s Broadcast Engineering.



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