Hollywood’s Huge (And Growing!) Storage Demands

Blockbuster movies create huge storage requirements for producers. Let’s take a closer look at key factors affecting the storage needs of the media and entertainment industry and discuss how LTO technology can help.

Blockbuster movies are exciting to watch but behind the scenes they create huge storage requirements for producers. This BlogBytes will take a close look at key factors affecting the storage needs of the media and entertainment industry and discuss how LTO technology can help. Quiet on the set – Action!

Pixels Keep Growing

Last year audiences were treated to a variety of movie options, from animated features to high speed race cars in films such as “Frozen II” and “Ford v Ferrari.” These films can include multiple cameras, super high definition, 3D, computer graphic enhancements and more, all adding up to massive requirements for digital content storage.  There’s a quite remarkable article on the ‘behind the scenes’ action in ‘Ford v Ferrari’ here.


Recreating a realistic 1960s environment in ‘Ford v Ferrari’ was a VFX challenge


As noted in an MTMP Solutions white paper that analyzes the storage requirements of the media and entertainment industry, “Digital content continues to grow rapidly due to the demands for more data-intensive formats. [Previously] it was HD, 2K, with 3D and 4K coming. Now, it’s 4K, HDR, 3D, IMAX, and complex audio, with 8K coming and ever more digital effects.” The final cut of a two hour 4K movie could create up to 1.5 TBs of digital storage and an 8K movie could be up to 15 TBs! Add all the footage accumulated during production and the storage requirement can stretch to petabytes of content. Producers have their hands full when it comes to managing the ever-increasing mountains of data generated by movies.


The final cut of an 8K movie could be up to 15 TBs


LTO and LTFS Make Movie Magic

LTO technology offers solutions to address the media and entertainment industry’s needs. LTO-8 tape has the capacity to hold up to 12 TB of uncompressed data (up to 30 TB with compression), which is good news for studios requiring storage for large quantities of rich media content. Combine that capacity with the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) and you have some movie magic storage. LTFS is a software added once to a workstation or server that tells the operating system to use tape in a manner similar to using a hard disk drive. With LTFS, one partition of tape holds the content and a second small partition holds the content’s index. The tape becomes self-describing to improve archive management and LTFS makes viewing and accessing tape files easier than ever before.


The capacity potential (in hours) of an LTO-8 enabled LTO-8 tape at 95% efficiency (11.4 TB)


As noted in the MTMP Solutions paper LTFS provides a number of attributes that can benefit production studios, including:

  • OPEN SPECIFICATION – The LTFS format specification and implementation scheme are in the public domain. It was adopted by the LTO Program group and is now a SNIA Specification as well as an ISO standard.
  • INTERCHANGEABLE AND PORTABLE – LTFS tapes contain an index that describes the contents. There is no required connection with the software system or application that wrote the tape. This differs from proprietary backup and archive storage management applications which usually require special tape formats or metadata transfers from the application to provide access to data on the tape. For this reason, LTFS tapes are highly sharable and portable.

Save Money

The growing number and size of files created by the media and entertainment industry requires budget-conscious management.  As highlighted in the MTMP paper “Keeping hours of such media online on disk quickly becomes cost prohibitive.” For example: in an ESG TCO study an LTO-8 tape solution was shown to be the lowest cost form of digital storage as compared to disk or cloud helping to conserve movie budget dollars. The TCO of the  LTO solution was expected to be 86% lower than the disk solution and 66% lower than the cloud solution which can be due in part to cloud egress charges and recurring cloud costs that can add up.

LTO tape with LTFS helps make the management of rich media content easier as well as cost effective.