A TB Onslaught

Marianne Jerris, Print Manager at the DFI Filmarchive

As Denmark's national agency for film and cinema culture, we at the Danish Film Institute (DFI) support the development, production, and distribution of Danish films. We also preserve those films for posterity, run the national film archives, and host audiences for new cinematic experiences at our three cinemas in the heart of Copenhagen.

We have also recently faced a somewhat urgent situation. Danish cinemas now work with digital files rather than 35mm films. Coupled with the government mandate for producers to deposit their work at DFI for preservation, this meant our servers were filling up quickly.

We now get 10 terabytes (TB) of new data each month through legal deposit. Just two years ago, the amount of data received was only 5 TB per year.

At that time we knew an onslaught was coming, and we anticipated an annual data growth of 250 TB. We needed an immediate, versatile, professional-grade archiving and media asset management (MAM) solution. As newcomers to the world of digital archiving, we made sure to do our homework. Front Porch Digital’s archiving and asset management products rose to the top of our list, thanks to their reputation for performance and support, and recommendations from other users.

Front Porch Digital’s DIVArchive content storage management (CSM) system is designed specifically to handle video files and the management challenges that come with them. So it is especially well-suited to meet our stringent requirements.

Affording that sort of premium technology was easier said than done. Thankfully, Front Porch Digital worked with us to create a smaller system that would allow us to get started, and expand easily as we are able.

We invested in a SAMMAsolo G4 HD single-stream migration unit, a DIVArchive V7.0 CSM system, and a DIVAdirector MAM system. Together they give us a complete, professional, integrated archiving solution and a platform for easy access to holdings within our organization.

Archiving into DIVArchive has now been integrated into our file-handling workflow. The DIVAdirector MAM helps make those files accessible to people on staff.

Files come into DFI in any number of formats via FTP and external hard disks, where they are copied to our server for validation and inspection. At the same time, metadata about the digital video object is registered.

The file and its metadata are saved into DIVArchive. They are then exported through a script that makes the archiving procedure swift and effective without the risk of data loss.

We are in the midst of integrating SAMMAsolo into our preservation workflow. Right now we are using SAMMA to upscale SD video to HD files for distribution in digital cinema packages. Ultimately, we will rely on SAMMA’s encoding architecture and integrated quality-control reporting capabilities to ensure optimal encoding as videotapes are ingested.

The great advantage to this setup is that people in-house can now serve themselves.

For example, our festivals department promotes Danish films at international film festivals and events such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Oscars.

DIVAdirector gives our festival promoters easy access to trailers and electronic press kits. At the same time, we can control and limit that access so that the promoters can get only what they need without risking loss of any other data.

Because DIVArchive uses LTO technology, it provides a more affordable storage solution than spinning servers, without compromising reliability. As well, DIVArchive allows us to store our entire archive in nearline storage, which means we no longer need to invest in larger servers. DIVArchive also gives us an easy way to ingest files from outsourced, large-scale digitization projects with minimal effort — a time-saving benefit that cuts down on labour costs.

Another big advantage is that the DIVArchive V7.0 system features Front Porch Digital’s new open Archive eXchange Format (AXF) technology. It will eventually replace outmoded legacy formats such as TAR with a truly open and storage-agnostic format.

Having AXF built into the system will help us fulfil our mandate for optimal, reliant, and efficient open-standard archiving in accordance with OAIS rules. It also helps ensure that our assets are easily accessible to stakeholders, for generations to come.

Eventually our DIVArchive will house all of DFI’s legacy video masters, trailers, digital cinema packages, distribution masters, and audio files, as well as all documentaries, short films, and feature films that are delivered to the DFI film archive for preservation.

Within the first six months of using the system, we have already archived more than 3,000 items totalling more than 60 TB of data. Front Porch Digital’s products have made it possible for us to sustain a broad migrate-and-manage workflow that is sophisticated enough for our needs today, and flexible enough to grow with us in the future.