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.

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.”

About AJA Diskover Media Edition
AJA Diskover Media Edition is the powerful, easy to deploy data management software solution designed to let users take control of storage, across the entire organization, regardless of where it is physically located. It enables high-speed, cutting-edge searches, cost analysis, tagging and other sophisticated tools to empower all levels of an organization to make more informed data decisions, enhancing the company’s file-based production line and its monetization – all from a simple web-browser based user-interface. Efficiently curate existing assets, empower your workforce and never lose a file again with AJA Diskover Media Edition

Gabriel Mays

AbelCine Director of Rental
As Director of Rental, Gabriel Mays oversees growth of Rental by nurturing business relationships and unifying the customer experience nationwide. In his previous role as the LA Rental Manager, Gabriel worked with producers, cinematographers, and assistant camera operators to provide the highest level of customer service possible. He also ensured that all their equipment needs are met on budget. Before coming to AbelCine in 2015, Gabriel previously worked as a Communications Instructor and Electronic Media Engineer at a private university. He taught various courses in electronic media, including film, broadcasting, and digital arts. Gabriel is an award-winning cinematographer, director, producer, and editor known for his innovative research and implementation of new film techniques. He was also one of the first to implement HDSLR cameras into filmmaking. He has been the cinematographer on dozens of independent films, documentaries, and music videos.