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12 TVBEurope Archiving & Storage


www.tvbeurope.com June 2012


“By the time the fourth transfer is done, producers will start to make a profit” — Trevor Hotz


Archiving on a budget


For small television production companies and individual productions, an archive is often just a load of hard drives in a drawer — hardly a secure long-term strategy. But what’s the alternative? David Fox examines the options


IT USED to be that the definition of an archive was a shelf with tapes on it. The more sophisticated systems had bar codes and a robot to take the tapes from a shelf to a player, but it was simple and generally reliable. Security was a lock on the door. Today’s file-based workflow is


good for production, great for post production, but can be expensive if you want to retain long-term access to your content. At the budget end of the


business, archive typically relies on hard drives (preferably with at least two copies of any project on separate drives — ideally in separate locations — with every drive booted up and checked at least twice a year). Media management is whatever the nonlinear editing system offers. Hard drives are cheap, but


you get what you pay for. “It’s not a question of IF these drives will die, it’s a question of WHEN,” says Richard Payne, Technical Development manager at Holdan, a UK and European distributor for many brands, such as Panasonic. For long-term storage hard


drives are rarely the best option (unless you need regular access to the material), so you need to look at optical disc or digital tape. The least expensive system Holdan offers is a ProxSys MA-10 archive with an internal Blu-ray recorder (£4,250), but “we’ve been disappointed it hasn’t sold,” admits Payne. It may be that users don’t trust Blu-ray, although the best discs should last 50 years, or that they can’t store very much. “If you have a 64GB P2 card, it is annoying to have to span it over two discs,” he says.


Richard Payne: “It’s not a question of IF these drives will die, it’s a question of WHEN”


For him, the best option is an


LTO tape, which can store 1.5TB. ProxSys, which is part of


Vitec Multimedia, recently released an LTO-based system, the £8,450 MA-LTO, which can take XDCAM, Panasonic P2 formats, AVCHD, DV and HDV, and automatically create browsable MPEG-4 proxies to hold on its internal drive, while archiving to LTO-5 tape.


For more demanding work


there is also the ProxSys PX range, which starts at about £22,000, although a typical set up costs about £40,000. Because it allows the creation of individual projects, and save a complete edit project for Avid or Final Cut, with different levels of user access (making it more secure), the PX range is proving more popular than the MA range. Panasonic also offers an


LTO system, and archive management software, but it is currently only for P2, so doesn’t appeal to companies that might have to handle other formats. However, Payne has heard that Panasonic is considering a more flexible system. For production companies


that want more flexibility, he says that the most popular choice seems to be based around Square Box Systems’ CatDV


software. It has now reached version 9 and can be integrated with LTO, Blu-ray or other storage systems, and handles media asset management and video logging. The CatDV Archiving Option


provides integrated support for archiving files to a Cache-A LTO archive appliance, copying files to the Cache-A vtape folder and keeping track of which tape they have been archived to. Cache-A hardware costs from under $10,000 — the Cache-A Prime-Cache5 is $8,000, and can be used as a self-contained system. Although designed specifically for use with Cache- A ProCache and PrimeCache, the CatDV software can also copy files to hard drives. However, for use with other systems, CatDV can also be used with third party plug-ins from Atempo (for archiving and


The CatDV Archiving Option provides integrated support for archiving files to a Cache-A LTO appliance


backup), DAX Archiving (for Blu-ray and tape archive), and Object Matrix (for near-line hard disk archiving).


More Space The new £8,495 Space LTO Mini is the first in a new line of archive devices from GB Labs. The LTO-5 tape offers write speed of 140MBps, but this exceeds the sustained transfer speeds of desktop systems and most NAS and SAN systems, so most LTO-5 appliances so far use scrubbing techniques to slow the transfer process to match the fluctuating data rate needed. “The inevitable wear and tear on the tape from this shuttling technique has been a major concern for media organisations. Many fear to entrust their media to stressed magnetic tape whose shelf life may be compromised as a result,” claims GB Labs.


Its system includes a 2TB


Raid 5 drive array and has the sustained data rate required to transfer files to LTO without continually adjusting the tape speed. “LTO drives are very energy efficient while their capacity and speed make them a great prospect for the industry,” says Ben Pearce, GB Labs’ Sales and Marketing director. “However, broadcasters are interested in the long-term security of their assets so preserving the integrity of the tape is of great importance.” Its system writes XML and uses the TAR open backup format to ensure data compatibility and interoperability with third party systems for decades to come. It also works with Windows, Mac OS and Unix, and as a networked device can be controlled via the web.


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