Quantum NAS To Handle 4K Workflow for Visual Data Media Services
Quantum announced that Visual Data Media Services (VDMS), one of the largest media processing, distribution, and localization service companies in the world, has deployed Xcellis Scale-out NAS to manage 4K transcoding workflows, high bit-depth film scanning, and support the heavy data rate required for high dynamic range (HDR) mastering.
Powered by Quantum’s StorNext high-performance file system, the Xcellis Scale-out NAS system supports multiple simultaneous 4K and UHD scanning and mastering operations, optimizing the workflow for VDMS and reducing the time to market. In addition, the solution’s advanced data management features have enabled the Visual Data team to increase capacity by six times — without increasing staff. The ability to scale performance and capacity independently also will allow Visual Data to grow its system to meet expanding and emerging needs without forklift upgrades.
A content preparation, distribution and localization company with branches in Los Angeles and London, Visual Data had been successfully providing end-to-end digital supply chain services, film scanning, and media asset management for a wide range of international customers, including preparing content for distribution across the world’s premiere broadcast channels and digital platforms. However, with the number of 4K and UHD projects increasing, the company found that its existing NAS infrastructure was too slow to handle the kind of volume they were seeing.
The Visual Data team realized it needed to upgrade its workflow engine, including finding a way to remaster film content faster and more efficiently and to take advantage of a major new opportunity created by the company’s innovative approach to restoration. Remastering older programs in HD and 4K posed a challenge: often with no cut negative to scan, the only way to get old features and TV shows to HD or 4K is to perform a match-back — scanning the original dailies, manually eye matching the images used in the final cut and then conforming the original in the new format. The team wanted a solution that could double capacity and deliver the performance to support multiple 4K and UHD operations at the same time.
“We have revolutionized the process for restoring old Movies and TV shows,” explains Steve Spear, Visual Data’s senior vice president of operations. “What used to take weeks, we are able to get done in just a few hours—and the process is much more economical, making more library content accessible for our clients’ sales teams to go out and sell. For it to work we had to have a storage and processing environment that could support this new workflow.”
Visual Data began its search with ten vendors and narrowed the field down to three finalists, comparing them on such key factors as performance, scalability, security, manageability, technical support and cost-effectiveness. The team ultimately chose to work with integrator and technology solutions partner Diversified, and selected a configuration consisting of an Xcellis Workflow Director running StorNext software, Quantum QXS RAID arrays, a Fibre Channel fabric and an Xcellis Workflow Extender to provide access to the files over the company LAN.
Amy Lounsbury, senior account manager at Diversified, notes, “Diversified’s specialists within the Media Workflow Group presented the Quantum Xcellis platform based on its flexibility and performance characteristics as a true high-performance, hybrid storage solution. We were just as excited as the team at Visual Data to see the full potential of the new Quantum solution.”
“On the performance side, our tests showed that the Quantum system did everything that we needed and more,” Spear says. “With StorNext-powered Xcellis, we could run 4K scanning, UHD transcoding, and a 4K playback all simultaneously, and everything worked perfectly without a single dropped frame.”
“The Xcellis scalability was also a real advantage for us,” continues Spear. “It enabled us to increase performance and storage capacity independently—which means we’ll be able to grow to meet future demands while avoiding a complete system overhaul.”
On overall economics, the Quantum solution was the clear leader. It gave the team the option of using Fibre Channel for some clients, while using Quantum’s Distributed LAN Client (DLC) for others. DLC combines Ethernet connectivity with block-based transfer that outperforms NFS and SMB to boost performance and keep costs low.
“Quantum’s cost-per-TB beat everybody, and the system’s flexibility will help us keep costs low going forward,” says Spear.