11th December, 2013

ONSIGHT manage 60TB for Attenborough Museum visit

David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive 3D marks the latest 4K and 3D documentary project produced for Sky by Atlantic Productions and Colossus Productions, a joint venture between Atlantic and Sky 3D.


It also marks the presenter's sixth 3D project for Sky/ Atlantic/ Colossus, with previous films including Flying Monsters 3D, The Penguin King, Kingdom of Plants, Galapagos 3D and Micro Monsters 3D.


While the first in the series, Flying Monsters, was shot on Red One cameras, Natural History Museum was shot using Epics at 5K mounted on a 3Ality Atom rig. The larger frame provided wriggle room for geometry changes and horizontal image translation in post. Timelapse photography was by DP Rob Hollingworth using Nikon D800 stills cameras.


Each Red camera generated 400GB of data an hour, making nearly a TB per hour combined. “So on location you can very easily rack up in the region of 40+ TB of storage, which becomes a major data management and cost issue,” explained Richard Mills CTO, ONSIGHT.


“We always try to have some kind of on-set or near set quality control, and production generally demands near set editorial as well, so it's a considerable challenge to get all that data backed up in two or three copies on set plus edit deliverables.”


As with previous Colossus shows, the production was designed to cover for a TV deliverable, a cinema feature and a giant 16x9 screen release, which required that a number of versions of each shot are taken with different framings.


The show was heavily CGI reliant with creatures, including a yeti and a diplodocus, supplied by Milk, Prime Focus, Framestore and Zoo. All the animation was delivered at 4K, rather than the usual 2K resolution, to ensure the quality of the image when projected back on an IMAX screen.


In post, ONSIGHT set aside about 40TB of online storage using a combination of Dot Hill and StorNext SANs to provide scalable online file storage. With the added CGI conforms the project would have racked up about 60TB. Offline was on Avid in DNxHD 36 and in stereo 3D, online was in Mistika. Monitoring was by way of Sony Trimaster PVM-X300 and a domestic 4K TV for reference. A theatrical 4K DCP test was also made.


The 65-minute show will air on New Year's Day. Next up for Attenborough and Colossus is Conquest of the Skies 3D, a two part series set to premiere in 2015.


By Adrian Pennington


TVB Europe 11/12/13