As the media and entertainment industry has moved to higher-resolution workflows and virtual production, post houses have answered the call by investing in faster, higher-capacity storage systems and cloud workflows to accommodate the massive file sizes they now must wrangle. Sifting through petabytes of data to find a file quickly is one of those back-end processes that clients don’t always see, but it can be painful for content production and post facilities. Los Angeles-based creative shop Roundabout Entertainment has surmounted this challenge with AJA Diskover Media Edition. The data management software has given Roundabout greater control over its network attached storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN), and distributed file system, which collectively host 30 petabytes of media files across the entire organization.

Roundabout VP of Technology James Jan explains, “With ElasticSearch working on the back end of AJA Diskover Media Edition, we can find files within minutes or seconds, even if they’re indexed, whereas before, a search might take hours. When one user needed a file but only knew part of the file contents, she started typing what she knew and saw results pop up nearly instantaneously. I was blown away.”

AJA Diskover Media Edition also enables client access to Roundabout work while adhering to stringent security requirements, a time-intensive process that previously required the engineering team to build web GUIs from the ground up. “We can’t have clients on the production network, but they often need file access,” Jan explains. “With Diskover, we can do it quickly and with support for LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) authentication. The customizable nature of Diskover also lets us write scripts so that our production and corporate scheduling teams can copy files, generate proxies, and convert audio files without jeopardizing the file’s integrity, which we couldn’t do before.”

Roundabout also taps the extensive plug-in network available for AJA Diskover Media Edition, including the Media Info Harvest Plug-in, which they use to scan all of their files and store pertinent info, like resolution, color space, and associated metadata. Jan and team have also implemented the AJA Diskover Media Edition integration with the Xytech media operations platform to streamline their workflow and eliminate back and forth between Roundabout teams   leveraging the platform.

In his two decades in post-production engineering, Jan has helped organizations like Roundabout evolve their network strategies along with technology-driven changes, moving them from spinning disks to solid state drives (SSDs) and now into nonvolatile memory express (NVME) storage. Keeping up with Motion Picture Association (MPA) and Trusted Partner Network (TPN) security requirements is part of that process, as is working continuously to lower the cost of SAN-attached storage.

Looking ahead, Jan concludes, “With 8K on the horizon, there’s going to be more data, which means storage needs will continue to grow, and facilities like Roundabout will need faster ways to store, access, and manage that data. We’re also starting to dip our toes into artificial intelligence (AI) cautiously. With these and other technologies driving up file sizes and storage, AJA Diskover Media Edition will certainly continue to be indispensable.”

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.