Smoke & Mirrors (S&M) has added a new organization wide DI and VFX and Petabyte media archive storage environment at its facilities in London and New York.

The storage deployment enables upwards of six users at the VFX company to simultaneously read and write to the same digital video sequences at resolutions of over 2K in real-time, a deployment that requires 300 megabytes per second for each stream.

Access to files is instant and data copy across the workflow is eliminated, allowing editors to transform the original footage to digital format and edit the content immediately.  

The new set-up replaces a previous manual process that involved scanning, couriering and uploading digital format content to storage at the Soho and New York offices.

The storage system also enables S&M to pool new disparate storage hardware and make it available to all staff via personal 2D and 3D workstations. 

Automatic archiving and retrieval of old digital production data to tape is also possible. 

Built using IBM General Parallel File System, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and DataDirect Networks  S2A6620 hardware, S&M’s new storage set-up was designed, installed and configured by system integrator OCF

“Previously, we had to scan, courier and upload digital format content to our offices which could take days to complete,” says Mark Wildig, chief technology officer at S&M

“Once the digital data was available we could only work on it consecutively, we were frequently creating silos of data and archiving and retrieval of data could take on average three person days.”  

OCF technical director Barry Evans said: “One of the greatest challenges for the media sector is its silo approach to unstructured data. 

“GPFS can potentially become a really big thing in the media space simply because of its standard functionality – it knows where data is held, can handle data lifecycle management effectively and offers tight integration with Tivoli Storage Manager.

Key components:

  • ‘Dark fibre’ connects Telecine film scanners to S&M facilities in London and New York.
  • Transformed digital data is transferred over 10GB Ethernet at a high-speed rate of 750MB per second, delivering 30+ frames of film per second. 
  • The digital data is delivered directly to a new central storage pool.
  • Two IBM GPFS System x3650 M2, with Nehalem Dual quad cores handle the file transfer over 20 port Qlogic fibre switches into two DDN S2A6620 storage subsystems providing 50 TB of storage capacity.
  • The second element of the storage system consists of four IBM GPFS System x3650 M2, with Nehalem Dual quad cores, over DataDirect Network’s DDN6620 storage hardware  and Qlogic switches. 
  • Collectively this provides 200 TB of storage capacity accessible locally by multiple 2D and 3D rendering workstations.
  • All digital data is backed up to a 900 slot Quantum Tape Library, providing 700 TB of storage capacity with IBM GPFS and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager working side by side.

S&M provided post work on a promo for Marco’s Kitchen Burnout (pictured)