Virtual Reality

The Fourth Dimension of Virtual Reality: Storage

Does one’s studio employ a ''save everything'' approach? If so, one'll require tremendous storage capacity for virtual reality projects

By Jim Simon, Vice President of Global Field and Channel Marketing, Quantum Corp

Creating immersive experiences requires a reassessment of one’s storage environment. The technology used for producing virtual reality (VR) experiences is progressing rapidly. Just a few years ago, capturing video for VR involved bolting multiple cameras into an improvised housing to keep   the cameras aligned.

Since then, several technology companies have invented a range of solutions specifically designed for capturing 3D 360-degree video for VR. For example, a NextVR camera rig uses RED Epic Dragon cameras to capture video at up to 6K resolution.

GoPro, in conjunction with Google, created the Odyssey, which includes 16 cameras that capture 3D 360-degree video. The Facebook Surround 360 reference design uses 17 cameras. And 360 Designs produced the EYE camera with 42 Blackmagic Micro Cinema Cameras that capture 3D video across three axes.

As technology companies continue to innovate, they are introducing professional and consumer cameras that are smaller, less expensive, and easier to move around.

Cameras today offer in-camera image stitching and the flexibility to support a wide range of formats and data rates. The GoPro, Omni, Sphericam 2, Orah 4i, and 360fly 4K are already enabling a broader range of individuals and studios to cost-effectively produce high- quality 360-degree video and VR.

 

At the same time, demand for VR experiences is growing, supported by an influx of new consumer VR solutions and an expanding number of use cases. Consumers can purchase high-end VR systems, such as Oculus Rift, simply pair their smartphones with Google Cardboard, or even view 360-degree videos on Facebook and YouTube.

VR is being used not only for entertainment, sports, and gaming, but also technical training, sales, and marketing. Users can be transported to new worlds, experience courtside seats at a basketball championship, or explore virtual prototype product designs.

Is one’s studio moving into VR? If so, one’ll need more than a camera. Implementing the right storage solution must be a top priority. One need storage that can deliver the performance for capturing and working with multiple streams of 4K and higher-resolution video.

And one needs the capacity to store a fast- growing volume of large video files.

What is the right storage solution for one? Storage for VR is not one size fits all. Once one has a full grasp of the challenges of supporting VR content, one can use Quantum storage performance testing as a guide to find the right solution for one’s precise requirements.

Identifying The Storage Challenges Of VR

Innovations in VR camera technology are driving the need for significantly greater storage performance and capacity. The GoPro Odyssey captures 75 MB/sec of content while the NextVR captures 528 MB/ sec for its 6K video. The Facebook Surround 360 design captures 2 GB/sec, and the 360 Designs EYE captures 2.7 GB/sec—that’s the equivalent of capturing a DVD movie worth of data every two seconds.

The upward trend for capture data rates shows no sign of stopping. Uncompressed 5K stereoscopic video would record an astounding 7 GB/sec.

High data rates and large data volumes have implications for storage at every stage of VR production.

Capture

One needs storage performance that can ingest content in large high-resolution formats from multiple streams.

Preparation

Once we’ve ingested the video content, one’s team has to apply color correction and fix any stitching anomalies. One’ll need real-time performance to enable team members to complete these tasks swiftly and prepare the video content for editing.

Editing

As it is with video preparation, editing requires real-time performance. Editors can’t wait for clips to load or be delayed by sluggish performance. If multiple editors are working on the same files, one’ll need storage that can handle multiple streams of large high-resolution files.

Retention

Does one’s studio employ a “save everything” approach? If so, one’ll require tremendous storage capacity for VR projects. Keeping everything on primary storage is not cost effective – one’ll need a robust archive solution that allows one to free up space on primary storage without giving up visibility or accessibility of files.

Unfortunately, many existing storage solutions are not up to the task. In particular, those existing solutions can’t deliver the performance to accommodate numerous streams of large high-resolution files.

Are flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) the answer? Not necessarily. While flash can deliver strong performance for many workflows, the higher cost and lower capacity of typical flash drives compared with hard disk drives (HDDs) means that one should carefully assess one’s requirements before investing.

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