Hollywood Comes To Video Surveillance

The video storage and management concepts that have ruled media & entertainment are now being applied to security

Dailies, B-rolls and circle-takes — these digital video-oriented processes of the “Hollywood” production marketplace have, for nearly a decade, seen an explosion in the volume of recorded video that must be stored and managed. Entirely new workflows have been created to handle the deluge of video that digital movie-set cameras have unleashed.

In the old days, parts of movies, TV shows and commercials would end up on the “cutting room floor,” as sections of film were edited out of the production. Nowadays, every “take” is kept and possibly re-used in the bloopers edition or the director’s cut release.

SPOILER ALERT: This article is about the technical management and storage of surveillance video and not an article on the cool special-effects Hollywood is pretending to do with video surveillance.

What our colleagues in the very similar Media and Entertainment (M&E) — or Hollywood — marketplace have learned is how to manage this vast amount of (and significantly growing) recorded video that is generated every day. How do directors and producers quickly access and review the day’s shoot? How do they select the takes and scenes that make it into a movie? How can they quickly and easily find video scenes previously recorded for other productions and reuse them? What’s the most cost-effective, affordable way to store all of these video assets? These are questions for which Hollywood has already figured out the answer.

With the IP video surveillance marketplace managing a similar process to Hollywood in terms of storing vast amounts of recorded video, perhaps we should embrace their tried-and-true workflows for surveillance video lifecycle storage.


Following in Hollywood’s Footsteps

Hollywood has already learned how to monetize recorded video over and over again — it has learned how to use IT storage technologies to store terabytes and petabytes of video at the lowest possible costs (especially operational costs).

Hollywood has also learned how to add more information (metadata) to the recorded video to help make it more relevant for quicker searches in the future. In Hollywood, if you cannot find and retrieve the recorded video quickly and easily, it quickly becomes useless to retain it.

Many people in the M&E market point to the introduction of the RED digital camera as the tipping point for Hollywood’s move to a digital workflow. Originally conceived in 2005, RED became a driving force in moving away from actual “film” to a digital medium.

Removing the high cost of movie and television-grade film enabled production companies to “save it all” and not leave any video footage on the proverbial cutting room floor. The side effect is an enormous amount of extra video. Here’s an examination of two areas that Hollywood has gotten it right with regards to video management and video storage: metadata and LTO.



Metadata, or “data about the data” enables each user to add information about a video that can be later used to easily search and review the video. “Airplane flyover of Golden Gate Bridge at sunset” is a great example of a clip of video that a production company could easily reuse for any movie about San Francisco. “Airplane,” “Golden Gate Bridge” and “sunset” are all metadata terms that would significantly help an editor quickly find this scene and use it again. Think of the cost savings metadata creates, as the other option is to send out another film crew to shoot another airplane flying over the same famed bridge.

Similarly, being able to pinpoint the specific clip of video in a video surveillance environment becomes easy using metadata. In fact, its cost-effectiveness makes metadata worth its weight in gold. Implementing sound metadata to recorded surveillance video enables more relevant search results and provides a way to find the proverbial needle in our ever growing video storage haystack.


Tiered Storage using LTO

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