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How to save 50% of the VFX archive storage capacity

Are you VFX studio or a video post production company who works with uncompressed EXR (OpenEXR) type of image data? If yes, then you probably know the EXR files are quite greedy and take lots of storage space. It’s even more noticeable with 4K and HDR type of image data where the size of such files is enormous comparing to standard FullHD resolution. What if there is a way how to save 50% of the storage capacity without any impact on the image quality?

VFX needs „TOP.“

Someone may say „it’s just a storage“ we need to buy, it’s expected as we add more video material. And that statement is true, but VFX and post-production studios know it’s quite a pain to buy new multi-nodes storage clusters and multiply the capacities with every resolution or image format bump. Up to that, for video effects, it’s typically the data is stored in uncompressed/RAW format. For instance in OpenEXR format, which can keep HDR and wide color sampling information. VFX archive and effects are typically a treasure of each studio, so any lossy image compression is a no-go. Then, expenses go up as 4K HDR replaces FullHD and instead 10 TB it is 40TB size allocation. And such a difference is easy to recognize on your bill for the storage arrays. We already know it will only grow in the future.

Stay compatible or go with new technology?

With such data boom future trend, we saw a sunrise of several new and great image formats with better lossless compression. And even though everybody likes benefits of new formats it is hard to change gears and switch from one format to another. VFX processing requires dozens, maybe hundreds of various software tools and utilities which have to be compatible on one thing, image format. And this is what slows down the adoption of better and newer technologies. It’s simply too risky and expensive to change the format and underlying software tools and people’s habits.

Comprimato UltraFlo for VFX archives

As the title of this post says, there is a way how to save a half of the required storage capacity for VFX purposes, namely archive. And it’s a way where there is no compromise on image quality or 3rd party image software compatibility.

If you know about a Comprimato a bit, you may already know there are two elements in play. The first is JPEG2000 and second is unique processing on GPU cards.

JPEG2000 enables a reduction of an image, on average, 1:2 while still being able to recover the exact original image information (lossless compression).  And this is a key for the 50% storage saving in the article headline, but JPEG2000 is not widely used in 3rd party software, so what?

Comprimato UltraFlo software creates a transparent layer between storage read/write attempts and get/push requests from presentation layer (outside requests for reading or write specific image files).

The result is, the user still sees and works with EXR file formats whether the storage saves JPEG2000 data with lossless compression and vice versa, UltraFlo converts JPEG2000 back to original EXR. This trick allows studios to use their existing software for editing and image processing. Also, the processing workflows stay completely untouched.

What’s the trade off?

You probably already understood the cost of saving 50% of your VFX storage capacity is the UltraFlo server with at least one NVIDIA P100 GPU card. Such UltraFlo server has enough power to provide throughput in more than 200 frames per second in 4K resolution, and it does not create any performance bottlenecks for typical VFX archive purposes. The image is always 100% equal to the original EXR. Because UltraFlo is a software, it scales easily, and the total price is always much lower than investment into new SAN array.

Summary

We at Comprimato believe we found an optimal solution. The solution which solves the problem of growing image data, software and workflow compatibility and high image quality. UltraFlo can be placed virtually on top of any storage vendor and type, and it becomes invisible for the end user.

If you are working in VFX industry, you know how hard is to adopt new technologies and keep investments low. Comprimato UltraFlo creates an opportunity how to start using advanced technologies today with minimal business risks.

Are you interested? Just drop us an email.

Michal Hrnčiřík
by Michal Hrnčiřík
August 11th, 2017