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First, we need to understand what we’re dealing with here. How big are uncompressed files, really? To calculate the uncompressed file size and data rate, use this method:
Now that we know how to calculate uncompressed file sizes we are in a better position to estimate how much data we are going to use on a particular project. But before we get into that, it might be a good idea to estimate the cost per GB and cost per TB of footage.
Finding the Cost per GB/TB
A 1TB SATA 6Gb/s 3.5″ Hard Disk Drive costs about $100 ($0.09/GB).
A 3TB SATA 6 Gb/s 3.5″ Hard Disk Drive costs about $150-$180 ($0.05/GB).
A G-Technology G-RAID 6 TB Dual External Hard Drive costs about $517 ($0.08/GB).
All in all, from my calculations, I figure the price to buy and maintain hard drives to be at the rate of $0.12 per GB, as long as one is working with terabytes of footage. This includes enclosures, cables, maintenance, controllers, etc.
Now that we have a limit to how much a GB costs, we can figure out the expenses involved in working with uncompressed footage.
The Cost per Project
Different projects have different storage requirements. Some of the factors that determine this are:
Traditionally, for feature films, the shooting ratio has been around 5 or 10:1. On the other end of the spectrum, multi-cam reality shows and documentaries can go up to 500:1. In the latter case a 2 hour documentary or show at 500:1 can have 1000 hours of footage.
We can break down our calculations thus (Click to enlarge):
As you can see, the costs of storing uncompressed footage goes out of hand quite quickly – and this is for just one copy of the footage! If you take backups into consideration, and multiple files moving between visual effects companies you can clearly see how a 4K movie can go into the millions just in storage costs.
Even storing a 4K master in 32-bit at 24 fps will cost $5,000 for two copies.
I hope by now you have a clear idea of the storage costs involved in working with uncompressed data. If you want to move all this data in real time, the costs of computer systems will increase as well. Plan wisely!