Post-Production Data Pipeline and Modern M&E

Written by Lynn Orlando

Written by Lynn Orlando

Published on March 27, 2020

Maintaining data integrity has never been more critical in the movie industry. The introduction of new technologies means the Media & Entertainment industry is continuously evolving. From scene preparation to hundreds of cameras with thousands of angles to animation and more, the post-production process deals with massive amounts of complex unstructured data. An effective post-production data pipeline is the best way to accelerate a project, protect the data, and maintain top quality.

Post-Production and the Big Screen

Generally speaking, a data pipeline facilitates the automated flow of data from one point to another. It eliminates manual steps in the process, creating a smooth flow of data. Its primary purpose is to create efficiency. When data is compromised or bottlenecked, valuable time in the post-production process is lost. A data pipeline can be thought of like a virtual assembly line. It takes your data, protects it, and ensures it gets to the right place, whether that is a data warehouse or an application, at the right time.

Post-Production in the Media and Entertainment Industry

Post-production has the vital role of taking raw film data, editing it, and adding visual effects, coloring, and sound. When data is compromised or fails to flow efficiently, film production becomes backlogged. This backlog can delay movie delivery significantly, resulting in stressful and inefficient work environments, delayed release dates and premieres, and millions in lost revenue.

And it doesn’t stop at a single production. Subsequent films are affected by the initial delay, and staff is always in crisis mode. In turn, creativity often is stifled as employees work to move the process along as quickly as possible to make up for the lost time.

A post-production data pipeline automates the process of extracting, transforming, combining, validating, and loading data. By eliminating the errors that result from manual processes, pipeline software decreases latency and provides end-to-end velocity. An efficient pipeline can enable a post-production manager to process multiple data streams at once, creating even more efficiency. Taking it a step further, modern technologies like the Stellus Data Platform helps post-production teams support more workloads, more simultaneous playback streams, and faster render times.

Additionally, a post-production data pipeline ensures that all applicable departments and staff can work collectively, without risking data integrity. R&D, layout, animation, and effects all can integrate and overlap while they share workflows.

Post-Production Challenges

The digital revolution is the biggest challenge facing filmmakers. The sheer volume of data and the number of steps required to get to production can open up numerous roadblocks. It’s not unusual for an assistant editor to cut 2,000 dailies on set while maintaining data integrity between production, post-production, and studio divisions. Once a final cut is ready, the files must be delivered in a suitable format to another vendor or in-house team. When the montage is finished, the holder of the master files will then generate high-resolution delivery and exhibition masters.

When done well, with an effective post-production data pipeline, teams can segment the workflow efficiently and meet deadlines for hitting the Big Screen. Often, delays are caused by technology versus teams. Legacy storage systems that offer slower throughput can translate to a slower post-production process. These older technologies that rely on traditional architectures can’t support multiple workflows and, at best, support fewer simultaneous playback streams and slower render times.

Post-Production and Unstructured Data Management

Content is paramount in the movie industry. Archiving and protecting digital assets means the difference between a project that delivers on time and on budget from one that does not. This difference translates to millions, if not billions, of dollars.

Post-production workflows have unique digital storage requirements. Storage can’t get in the way of the creative process, no matter how big your files are or how many people are accessing them. In addition to the creative aspects of post-production, staff must manage, archive, and distribute files efficiently. Often, time is wasted waiting for videos to render or upload–a process that takes time without modern data management and data storage technology in place.

Your choice in storage vendor is the key to maintaining an efficient post-production data pipeline. Since post-production requires the skill of so many hands, a stable and collaborative platform is vital. Here’s a sampling of questions to ask your potential vendor:

  • Are files easy to find, access, and use?
  • Can you handle (or how do you handle) multiple workloads?
  • What storage architecture is used?
  • How many simultaneous playback streams can your platform handle?
  • How fast can you render files?

Petabyte-scale storage architectures and data-intensive formats are most effective when creating, editing, manipulating, and transmitting data. Many production crews find a hybrid storage infrastructure creates the best workflow where you get the speed benefits of onsite storage while leveraging the distribution and volume capabilities of the cloud.

The M&E industry is a content-rich environment that requires unique solutions. Stellus is rewriting the rules for media and entertainment, offering record-setting throughput and performance in a simpler and more scalable Key-Value over Fabrics architecture. If your post-production company is looking for ways to boost production time and scale with modern M&E requirements, we’d love to show you the Stellus Data Platform. Check out our M&E Solution Brief and get in touch today!


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