LTFS opens up new opportunities for media and entertainment storage and distribution, providing support to media workflows. LTFS directly affects two major trends having significant impact on media and entertainment companies and digital media producers: the shift to file-based workflows and increasing storage demands.
With the advent of digital technologies, moving image (video and film) content producers and distributors are transitioning from analog/linear workflows based on film or videotape technology to digital/nonlinear workflows based on the manipulation of data files. Many organizations have already completed this transition. This has been commonly referred to as “moving to a tapeless workflow,” though it is more accurate to call it moving to a
The other fact of life in media and entertainment is the demand of ever-increasing visual resolution and complexity (HD, 4K, 3-D, etc.) creating more and larger files that must be managed. Keeping hours of such media online on disk quickly becomes cost prohibitive. LTO tape, especially with LTFS, can address the challenge. LTFS can work with LTO hardware-based lossless compression, which can provide bandwidth and capacity benefits depending on the data content.
LTO tape is already firmly established in the media production environment. (See Figure 1.) For production, LTFS efficiently supports several important requirements.
- Camera media reuse: Digital cameras encode motion images directly to SSDs or removable disks in the camera. These media are quite expensive (three to more than 350 times the equivalent media cost on LTO). Fast transfer of their contents to tape with LTFS enables reuse of this expensive media, reducing the number of SSDs or disks that must be purchased or rented.
- Backup: Backup of daily footage to LTO tape is a common requirement as the loss of a day’s worth of production is costly. LTFS facilitates backup by enabling small portable independent systems to easily write daily content to tape.
- Transport: The density and cost of LTO-5 tapes with the self-describing capabilities of LTFS combine to create an effective transport medium. Large amounts of data can be sent more quickly and economically than network-based transmission methods. This is especially compelling for digital productions, which can produce terabytes of data for every day of shooting. The encryption features of LTO tape help secure the data in transit.
- Economic direct access to data: For any file-based production workflow, an LTFS-enabled tape drive can feed workstations or networks with content directly and relatively quickly, similar to a disk and unlike most traditional tape systems. An application via the operating system always has a direct and persistent view of a mounted LTFS tape and the files it contains. Consequently, in a workflow where access to a file is expected to be fast but not instantaneous, such as a stock footage collection or archive footage of an ongoing news story, an LTFS tape is an effective and economical choice for storage.
- Archive: LTFS-formatted tapes can be easily imported into an LTFS-compatible archive by simply reading the index and adding the file metadata to an archive manager’s catalog.
Conversely, traditional systems that use separate media for transport and archive require all the data be recopied. With LTFS, there is no need to read the much larger data partition or transfer the data to other storage media. The transport media and the archive storage media are one and the same under this scenario. The “import bandwidth” of tapes being added directly to a library en masse far exceeds any system that requires movement of the actual data.
These are just a few of the ways that LTO tape technology and LTFS are transforming production and storage in the media and entertainment industry. These excerpts and additional details are available in a white paper titled “LTFS Hits the Mark in Media & Entertainment: An In-Depth
Introduction to LTFS for Digital Media” provided by the LTO Program at www.ultrium.com/whitepaper or at www.mediatechmarketpartners.com.
—Rainer Richter is a principal of Media Technology Market Partners.