HD Storage Requirements

Talking to friends about their future plans, I’m learning that the one thing that seems to galvanize Avid folks this year is the possibility that they could soon be cutting HD images in an “offline” environment. In my circle of friends DNX36 is the most interesting thing Avid has introduced in a while.

But that inevitably leads to an obvious question. “How much storage am I going to need and how much is it going to cost?” The question is usually framed in relative terms, namely, “How much MORE storage am I going to need than I use now?”

I can do a rough estimate, of course, but it would be nice to have a calculator that compares 14:1 storage requirements with DNX36 requirements — on 24-fps material. Does such a thing exist? Several searches on Avid’s web site didn’t turn up much of anything. The charts the company offers for DNX storage leave out DNX36 and never compare it to Avid’s SD codecs.

In general, Avid’s web site is impossibly hard to navigate. There’s too much stuff, organized poorly, searches are often ineffective, I rarely find what I’m looking for.

Avid-ites are behind their FCP brethren in the switch to HD, but I think we’re going to be moving there in droves in the next year or two. Avid ought to make the switch easier and more comprehensible. What do you need? How much can you do software only? What’s the simplest and least expensive workflow? If that information were widely disseminated we’d see a lot more people upgrading their aging Meridien systems.

And it would also help if Adrenaline HD wasn’t so much more expensive than FCP with a Blackmagic card.

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11 Comments on “HD Storage Requirements”

  1. Liam Says:

    Yeah its amazing we recently did a price comparison for AVID HD vs FCP HD and the price difference is ridiculous! For the $22000 or the AVID HD we could buy a top of the line MacPro, 7TB 500mbs RAID, FCP6 and Kona3 card. So what is the difference if the end product looks exactly the same?

  2. bscenefilms Says:

    Not sure if this calculator covers what you are looking for or not:


  3. Steve Says:

    I have it, and it’s slick and helpful. But it’s very FCP-centric and doesn’t cover any of the Avid resolutions.

  4. Norman Says:

    Has anyone seen a side-by-side of DNXHD36 and Prores 422 yet? I liked both of them in demonstrations, but never with the same footage.

  5. Bill Says:

    I agree that the Avid site is very difficult to navigate and frustrating because of it. Apple’s great strength is user interface and Avid’s website is for me indicative of some of Avid’s current problems in meeting the FCP challenge.

    The cost differential is only part of the attraction. Apple are now addressing the collaborative shared project/network environment and while still have a way to go as Steve has already pointed out you can be sure they will do it well. What they have already was a major selling point to Australia’s ABC, our national broadcaster and major production house. The ABC has just dumped Avid after 17 frustrating years and is rolling out FCP nation wide and I understand at least one other major network is going to do likewise.

  6. Mark Burton Says:

    These were taken from the Avid docs:

    *1080 24p DNxHD 36*
    3.98 min/GB

    *NTSC 24p 14:1p*
    12.1 min/GB

    *PAL 24p 14:1p*
    13.6 min/GB

    For NTSC people, expect to need just under 4x the storage.
    For PAL people, expect to need just over 3x the storage.
    (Note – rates do not include any audio tracks.)

    I don’t know if this has been updated with DNx36 yet, but if you have a PC, check out:

  7. Steve Says:

    That’s very helpful, thanks. But I’m a tad skeptical because the values are inconsistent. If you use minutes/gig, DNX36 takes triple the storage of 14:1. If you use mpbs, it’s quadruple.

    In any event, using the minutes/gig values and adding 2 tracks of audio, I get, roughly:

    14:1 — 6 Gigs/Hour
    DNX36 — 16 Gigs/Hour

    Based on these numbers, if your show shoots 250,000 feet of 35 mm 4-perf film, or roughly 50 hours, it looks like you need about:

    14:1 — 275 Gigs
    DNX36 — 750 Gigs

    14:1 — very roughly 1 gig per 1000 feet
    DNX36 — very roughly 3 gigs per 1000 feet

  8. Mark Burton Says:

    Good catch – I took these from some Avid codec docs, but it seems they may not be talking all things equal.

  9. Steve Says:

    I did a test today and verified the above numbers. DNX36 at 24 fps uses roughly 15 Gigs/Hr without audio. So 16 with audio is a reasonable number.

  10. Sean Says:

    Wow. Great website. And nice to see an “expert” agrees with me on a few fronts: the Avid site is a mess; and a well publicized and well laid out plan for getting Avid users into HD would be a hugely smart move.

  11. Steve,

    When looking for a true “how much storage will I need” number, you should add an additional 20% for the overhead necessary on the drives. You can’t fill up a drive 100%, so you have to take this into consideration when planning.

    Our calulations are close to yours and when we add the overhead, we get:
    14:1 = 6.3GB/hour
    DNx36 = 18.2GB/hour
    DNx115 = 58.1GB/hour

    Patrick Ready
    Pivotal Post

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