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Is 5G the future of ingest and backup?

Getting multiple copies of your work safely stored away and checked for errors is key to keeping insurers (and employers) happy, especially if you’re wiping and reusing cards during a shoot. With cloud services offering increasingly simple and secure ways to sync footage to offsite storage, 5G set to make moving high quality video and audio over data a reality, we asked our experts about the future of ingest and backup workflows, and what best practices you should be following. 


Liz Sunter
First things first: just how imminent is the 5G revolution? 

That’s up for debate. As a technology, 5G is ready to go – it’s been tested in the US, investment has started in the UK, and the first 5G-capable smartphones are due to start hitting our shelves early next year. In theory, once the network is rolled out, you’ll be able to stream 4K video straight to your phone in real time, thanks to download speeds roughly 100 times that of 4G

In reality, however, it’s going to take a while for various carriers to create a 5G network that has anything like sufficient coverage to offer that kind of performance, and you can expect to spend time working with hybrid 4G/5G networks before true 5G arrives. Some sources are predicting the UK rollout will begin in late 2019, with national coverage by 2022. So, the revolution isn’t so close that you can throw out your existing kit, but not so far away that you should be ignoring it, either. 


Why is 5G so promising for backup? 

On a semi-regular basis, a customer will call us up and explain, with some distress, that the drive they’ve been ingesting footage onto over the course of the day has failed or been damaged before they had the chance to back it up. (Feel free to pause here and go and run a backup yourself – we’ll wait.)

While there are currently lots of options for creating multiple backup copies of your work – see below for some recommendations – 5G’s 10Gbps top speed means you’ll be able to send footage straight to cloud storage, your HQ’s storage system or even the post house that needs to process it. No muss, no fuss, just instant, over the air backup from your ingest station to multiple locations, and a corresponding drop in distressed phone calls. 


How would that workflow look? 

Some pieces are already in place. Sony’s XDCAM Air workflow lets ENG crews stream proxy footage directly from a camera in the field to the studio, so editors can start logging footage before the shoot’s even complete. 5G coverage will make this quicker and easier, and enable you to support mobile workflows for more cameras.

The storage that you stream that footage to is likely to be in the cloud, too. There have been predictions that the industry will be moving to a ‘cloud first’ storage model, in which your footage is stored primarily on cloud platforms like Dropbox, managed using cloud-focused tools like Avid’s Editorial Management and Media Central Cloud UX modules, and edited remotely rather than at a central facility. In this model, a physical, on-premises copy of your data would only exist to act as a spare if the cloud system failed - the reverse of current backup practices. 


Dropbox, really? 

The enterprise version, yes. While there were initial security concerns about working with Dropbox, time and a few judicious updates (live media annotation, proxy generation) have bolstered its reputation among media professionals. With file sizes growing, especially for people shooting 6K and 8K, the fact that Dropbox offer unlimited storage for a fixed fee hasn’t hurt its prospects, either. 

And then there’s the fact that it will sync with any device that’s attached to you account, so you can upload files from XDCAM to Dropbox, and then sync them to your central NAS, an offsite backup, a post facility, and any on-location machine where it’s needed, all at once, and without needing to have everyone on the same device or platform - Dropbox will work with anything, which means your team can too.


For a revolution, this doesn’t seem very exotic. 

Well, no. 5G doesn’t promise a brave new world so much as it means you’ll be able to use tools you already know to do more in less time. Your staff know how to use Dropbox, Avid software and XDCAM Air. They’ll soon be able to use those exact tools to move a lot more footage a lot further, and they’ll be able to do it without needing a huge amount of retraining. The transition should be almost seamless (providing the network holds).


What’s your best bet in the meantime?

Until 5G arrives, there are a number of ways to make on-set ingest and backup more manageable. G-Technology’s Evolution (ev) Series have a neat solution, in which they provide ev-compatible card readers for Atomos, CFast2 and RED MINI MAG Media, and footage from your cards can then be copied directly to a G-SPEED ev RAID and backed up onto a portable G-DRIVE. We’re currently selling these bundles for just £49 when you purchase a G-SPEED.

For added security, back up your footage to at least one other medium – tape is a high capacity, high reliability option, and portable one or two tape drives mean it’s actually not difficult to start working on with tape while on set. mLogic’s mTape solutions are popular, but if you can afford a slightly higher initial outlay, MagStor’s solutions offer the same functionality, but with a three year warranty. Where possible, grab yourself a two-tape deck, as you’ll be able to write two copies of your data at once. 

Key to making sure your data makes it through the ingest and backup process intact are checksums. These checks ensure that your data isn’t lost or corrupted without you knowing, so you don’t continue copying bad data. Yoyotta software, which you can use to automate how many copies of your footage are created and where they’re stored, is a popular option, and works well with both mTape and MagStor. Alternatively, ShotPut Pro will accept virtually any type of media and is known for its ability to copy, error check and reformat your media cards quickly.

Less concerned with ingest and more focused on media management is Kyno, which lets you log and approve shots before exporting them - for example, if you have a long drone or fixed camera shot, you can skim the footage in Kyno and then save time and space by only exporting the usable sections to editors. 

Update: Editing over 5G

In the summer of 2018, the world's first commercially available 5G network was launched in Doha, the home to Al Jazeera and a number of other international and regionally important broadcasters. Qatar's media industry in has been quick to put it to work, as 5G's combination of fast speeds and dramatically reduced latency means that streaming from the field is considerably faster than it was over 4G, opening the door to new IP workflows. 

JVC have been at the forefront of developing streaming solutions that can take advantage of this, and their CONNECTEDCAM range is great for news crews looking to take advantage of 5G to reduce the time between shoot and delivery. The range offers low latency (sub 500ms) streaming and secure FTP delivery of files, including low-res proxies in a variety of formats suitable for many MAM and news systems. These are possible with 4G, but the CONNECTEDCAM range also offers live transfer of the full resolution file directly to your shared storage as it's recorded, without the need for a video server. This means you can edit the full resolution file back at base while the camera is still recording. 

Tests run by JVC in November this year showed that the lower latency of the 5G network meant that using their GY-HC550E camera, it was possible to have a two way conversation with very low latency, and even return video over IP. With 5G this could also be combined with full resolution file delivery.


For more advice on building a remote ingest workflow (and how to prepare for 5G), get in touch on 03332 409 210, email or fill in the form below and one of our team will get back to you. 

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