Light Iron facility in Los Angeles featuring a screen and AJA Diskover Media Edition

Light Iron Taps AJA Diskover Media Edition to Inform Smart Storage Strategies

Light Iron, a Panavision Company, offers a range of post-production services for feature film and episodic television, from dailies all the way through to final color, VFX, and finishing. With facilities across North America, multiple shows in the pipeline at any given time, and imagery with increasingly higher resolutions, each year, it becomes more critical for Light Iron to have an easy way to manage and organize staggering amounts of data. The studio relies on AJA’s Diskover Media Edition, a powerful data management software solution that enables users to quickly organize and index data across both on-premises and cloud-based storage.

Liam Ford, SVP of Engineering and Technical Operations at Light Iron, explained, “In the past, an entire 2K TV show might take up 8 TB, which meant the facility SAN was only a couple hundred terabytes; the load wasn’t that heavy. It was easy to find what you needed, and one person could manage it. As time went on, jobs just got bigger, especially with the move from 2K to 4K. Plus, with the transition from film to digital capture, our digital storage requirements shot up fast. We’re now ingesting tons of terabytes per day, per show, across our facilities in New York, Los Angeles, and other locations. It’s a lot of data to manage and wrangle, and if we’re not organized, things can get out of hand quickly, which is where we lean heavily on AJA Diskover Media Edition.”

Across facilities, Light Iron runs its storage on Quantum StorNext file systems, with some additional network area storage (NAS). Ford and the team at Light Iron use AJA Diskover Media Edition to track projects across all modes of storage and compile full indexes of their content, including metadata – enabling producers and operations staff to quickly drill down through projects and decide what can be archived, deleted, or sent to clients for review. At a higher level, AJA Diskover Media Edition also gives Ford a robust overview of the SAN structure to ensure that the studio isn’t holding too many aging files or hitting critical capacity limits. 

“Diskover is a true workhorse that we use constantly to track file movement and notify people where things are,” shared Ford. “Without it, it would be a slog to figure out where content is, determine the latest versions, and so on. We can also easily keep track of duplicates, so it’s easy to free up space when we need more. It gives us a dashboard to track how data is being consumed across projects. With better insight into our data consumption and where files are, it’s easier to get ahead of any issues.”

One of Ford’s favorite newly-added AJA Diskover Media Edition features is Live View, which functions as a navigable tree rather than a static listing – giving users real-time insight into their files and ensuring they’re always seeing the most up-to-date version. Ford also relies on the Aggregate Volume View and the Aging View capabilities, which makes it easy to implement the desired parameters – for instance, anything over 160 days old – and tag broad swaths of data for archival.

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He commented, “Without Diskover Media Edition, the only way for our team to make project management decisions in terms of which data to keep is to gather around a single secured workstation to look directly at the content; as you can imagine, that’s incredibly inefficient and a waste of resources. With Diskover, any of us can open up our laptops and get a full, up to date overview of everything online, on a standard web browser. As a result, decisions to clean things up happen way faster and earlier. It’s time saving, and money saving. Without the ability to figure out what exactly you have and how old it is, producers are more reluctant to touch anything, which can max out storage and lead to the team investing in more storage. Now, it’s much easier for us to understand what’s fluff and pare it back, so we get more mileage out of our existing storage.”

Light Iron continues to evolve its tech infrastructure to harness greater productivity and meet client demands. The studio is ramping up its use of cloud-based storage as it becomes more secure and scalable and is adopting more collaborative hybrid workflows as bandwidth becomes more affordable and accessible. Reflecting on these evolutions, Ford concluded, “With these developments, storage will only grow less siloed, which makes it important to have a dashboard where you can keep track of it all. Having a solution like Diskover Media Edition, that brings all that storage information together and gives you a view of where all your data and accompanying metadata sits, is becoming more critical every day.”

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