The Next Iteration of Post Production—It’s All About Technical Performance
Download the white paper authored by Tom Coughlin.
For creatives in media and entertainment, the artistic aspect of post-production is always going to be paramount. Higher image resolutions (4K, 8K), more dynamic ranges of luminosity (HDR), increasingly sophisticated computer-generated imagery (CGI), and jaw-dropping visual effects (VFX) all serve to underpin a compelling story and character development that draw viewers into the experience of the story itself. The growing prevalence of 4K video means that scenes are believable and real. HDR gives us imagery more accurate to our human perception, helping to establish more evocative moods. CGI and VFX provide us with impossible—and yet impossibly life-like—elements that literally transport viewers to places they simply can’t go outside the confines of the story. Through the magic of modern post-production, all these evolving technologies serve a single purpose—to help tell a more believable, a more realistic, or simply a better story.
And yet, while the goal of all these advancing technologies remains the story, the concerns of most post production professionals are increasingly technical ones. To pull off all these techniques, you have to have the most talented creatives on your post-production team collaborating in tandem under some of the tightest deadlines to be found in any industry. They have to be creative technologists who know how to use the most advanced hardware and software to apply these and other techniques in the right way, the most efficient way, and the most cost-effective way. Their concerns are increasingly technical in nature, and the obstacles they must overcome can only be resolved using the highest-performing solutions on the market. Undeniably, the next iteration of post-production is all about performance.
These post-production workflows are taxing not only to the client workstations which creatives depend on but also to the underlying supporting IT infrastructure. Because all these workstations, servers, and controllers are interconnected and constantly sharing large amounts of data back and forth, post-production puts an enormous strain on the supporting network infrastructure. Another critical part of the supporting infrastructure—the shared storage solution—is equally strained by post-production workflows. A team of many creatives working simultaneously on the same project files can quickly overwhelm all but the most robust storage solutions. File loads can slow workstations to a crawl, playbacks can be choppy or worse, and often entire portions of the post-production team have to halt their activities and progress to accommodate another activity going on somewhere else (think doing a playback for a visiting, high-profile director). The underlying supporting technologies such as the network and shared storage aren’t just the concern of the small IT team—it’s a shared responsibility and collective headache for everybody on the creative team.
We at OpenDrives have a deep understanding of this new reality in post-production. Our founders and many of our employees have occupied those chairs in which those creatives now sit, desperately trying to accomplish an artistic goal under incredibly aggressive timelines, all while simultaneously struggling suboptimal technology solutions and software platforms to try to get the job done. As a matter of fact, OpenDrives began as an effort by creatives to create a more efficient and effective shared storage solution than the highly expensive ones on the market, one that was robust enough to handle any workflow and any technology thrown at it. All while maintaining a price point which worked within the already constrained budgets of the post-production teams. It was a hard enough problem back then, but with the recent explosion of digital technologies available to creative teams, it’s an even thornier problem now.
We guess you could say that OpenDrives was formed because of this new normal of post-production, the obsessive need for performance. Our storage solutions have evolved to incorporate every technical edge to help achieve faster and more robust performance: SSDs, NVMe, media acceleration, memory-first storage techniques, variable block sizes, and predictive analysis. If it gives our creative users a technological edge—if it makes their primary job easier, which is to focus on the art and tell a better story—then we incorporate it into our storage solutions. Because at the end of the day, we know that the art and the story really depends on the performance of the technology used to tell it.