Storage Eyes its Digital Future

The market is saturated with new distribution mediums, from over-the-air and cable to IPTV and mobile devices. But once the content has been acquired for those outlets, broadcasters, post-production facilities and new media content producers are turning to ask each other the same rousing question.

Where are we to store all this stuff?

The answer isn’t always clear. So NAB is preparing to give attendees a heads up on new options out there at the Creative Storage Conference, produced by Coughlin & Associates, on Tuesday, April 15 at the NAB Show.

“Digital storage technologies are an enormous enabler to the broadcast media market,” said Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin & Associates and organizer of the daylong workshop. “But the capabilities of storage devices are changing constantly,” he said. “If you’re not in the forefront, you will lose out on your ability to compete.”

The Creative Storage Conference will be an intense one: The hands-on training conference opens at 7:30 a.m. with an introductory breakfast and wraps up with an evening reception at 7 p.m. that evening.

But the packed agenda is designed to give attendees a well-rounded perspective of the opportunities – and myriad challenges – that lie ahead. And the session is likely to raise just as many questions as it answers. Asset management has long been a key focus for the broadcast industry in general, and it’s been made even more confusing by the entrance of so many different media outlets.

It’s no longer adequate to prep content for broadcast alone — today’s content has to be stored in a way that it can be easily re-accessed, easily edited and easily reproduced for myriad output models.

An early morning workshop will look at storage as it relates to professional applications such as cameras, field editing equipment, animation and special effects.

A second workshop will delve into the stalwart workhorse known as direct attached storage, long a mainstay of professional nonlinear editing. But there’s a growing interest in the benefits of network storage technologies, too. This workshop will offer options for those working with nonlinear editing and post-production applications, including direct attached, networked and grid storage.

The conference will also look at the relationship between content delivery and digital storage for on-demand, cable, satellite and network distribution, as well as the newest batch of physical media distribution models – including flash drives, hard disk drives and new high-capacity optical disks. Speakers will also look at the latest line of kiosk storage solutions, which are designed to quickly get content into users’ home and mobile devices.

But it’s not enough to look ahead to future technologies. It’s just as important to take a step back – and look at the massive amount of analog storage that sits in the backroom.

What is one to do when it comes to digitally storing decades’ worth of analog content?

That issue will be addressed by one of the conference’s keynote speakers. As CNN’s senior director of broadcast video production systems, Chris Hinton, will talk about the huge library of analog content that is in place at CNN, and how the network plans to use a combination of metadata tracking and rapid ingestion tools to digitize those files into a digital format. The keynote will also touch on the benefits of working within a digital storage world.

The workshop will wrap up with an in-the-trenches Q&A, where members of the entertainment and media community will hash out their likes and dislikes, and discuss what new features they’d most like to see in tomorrow’s content storage options.

The session is designed to give attendees a closer look at how the backroom workhorse – the storage system – perhaps ought to be more closely analyzed. The future depends on it, Coughlin said.

“Without the technology that’s currently being developed in the digital content storage realm, the development of new content just wouldn’t be possible,” he said.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.