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UK production house turns to StorageDNA for more efficient tape use

Pre- and post-production firm Films at 59 opts for StorageDNA's DNA Evolution to manage its data on tape.

At the Bristol, U.K.-based Films at 59, operations manager Stuart Dyer said the firm opted for StorageDNA's DNA Evolution because they needed a more efficient way to manage its data on tape.

The company is a pre- and post-production facility that creates content for the BBC, Discovery Channel and other networks, as well as offers production services for broadcast projects.

StorageDNA's DNA Evolution offers an LTFS archive, retrieval and direct-access workflow abilities that the manufacturer said can optimize the management of file-based content.

"We previously used a legacy LTO-4 archive system and made the switch to DNA Evolution in order to provide a more efficient and flexible service," Dyer said. "The key was to find a system that gave us the ability to quickly archive the high-resolution media, and enabled us to select shots directly from LTO tape against an edited timeline, regardless of the specific system our craft teams choose to use."

DNA Evolution software supports LTO with LTFS, can be deployed to scale the needs of a production environment, and can be built to accommodate an existing environment and hardware, according to Rebecca Adler Greenwell, director of marketing for StorageDNA. The product supports LTO-5 and LTO-6, and the company claims that the product can maximize the storage capacity and data transfer rates of the format.

According to the DNA Evolution website, the product comes in several versions using either Apple Mac Server or Linux Server, with different options for LTO automation and drives, as well as server hardware.

She said there are more than 250 deployments of DNA Evolution for media and entertainment customers worldwide. Customers include broadcasters, sports organizations, government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations, she said.

Films at 59 has a little more than 800 TB of shared storage servers, plus 200 TB of local storage in specific suites, according to Dyer, along with 50 TB for nearline storage. The company's editing and audio suites are all connected to a choice of shared storage platforms to accommodate HD broadcast or digital cinema workflows, he said.

A single project can be more than 100 TB of footage, he said, and they're frequently working on about 30 projects at a time, each with its own storage and workflow requirements.

"We need systems and procedures that are efficient, flexible, and above all else, reliable, as we can sometimes be working with the only copy of our clients' media," Dyer said.

Dyer said Films at 59 learned of the product through their supplier, Digital Garage. In switching to DNA Evolution, the company also deployed LTO-5 and LTO-6, which provides improved capacity and transfer speeds over LTO-4, he said.

"This, along with ensuring the system is connected to a fast and reliable network, provides great benefit. There has been a lot of talk about the end of tape, both from an acquisition and archive point of view, but the evolution of the technology now enables people to have a choice," Dyer said.

"Prior to using DNA Evolution, we had to create [low-resolution] proxy files of the media for the edit, and keep the high-resolution files 'live' on our nearline storage ready for the conform, grade and online stages," he said.

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