The most important issues to consider before taking on a 4K project
If you think about it, all media workflows are basically the same – regardless of the resolution. Hence, there is no reason to be more intimidated by a 4K project than any other movie, TV or commercial project. Of course, the higher the resolution, the larger the file sizes will be, resulting in greater demands on the underlying hardware. But as long as the IT infrastructure provides sufficient performance, bandwidth and throughput for all workstations connected, you’re good to go.
What you need for a 4K workflow
…is basically the same as what you need for any media workflow. The bare minimum required is a central media storage that allows for simultaneous access to the media assets, a professional file system specialized in media, and an up-to-date 16Gb Fibre Channel infrastructure. Even a 40Gb Ethernet network may provide the required bandwidth and throughput to tackle a 4K (raw) project, depending on the kind and number of clients. Admittedly, Fibre Channel still has some advantages over Ethernet in terms of speed and reliability though, but this (almost philosophical) debate shall be discussed at another time.
Bottom line: As long as the hardware is up-to-date, providing multiple sustained 4K streams to every workstation involved in the project, the only crucial thing to worry about is proper project and asset management.
How to do it right – right from the start
Assuming that, as for the majority of post-production projects, there will be various different applications involved in the process, fast and seamless sharing of media files is essential – and this can make or break any media workflow. From editing, to color correction, to compositing and VFX, to occasionally even 3D CGI: all workstations need simultaneous access to the media assets. Hence, the most important thing for a smooth and efficient 4K media workflow is that all non-linear editing and VFX applications, regardless of the formats, can access the shared storage – via a shared file system.
In addition, tools that support collaboration across the post-production facility are critical, starting with a straightforward user/rights management and an appropriate workspace set-up. These will lay the proper foundations to collaborate effortlessly, providing assurance to stay in control of the file system and the underlying media storage.
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