Big movies, big data

The holidays are a distant memory, the excitement of the Super Bowl is behind us and much of the country is being pummeled by ice and snow storms…welcome to February! But despite the mid-winter blues, there remains one bright spot on the horizon: the Oscars.

While entertainment purists may argue that 2014 was not the greatest in terms of movie quality, one area in which 2014 really shone at the movies was technology. Each year, special effects and enhanced audio and visual experiences for moviegoers grow more and more sophisticated and enchanting. While we movie-goers appreciate the cinematography, special effects and crystal-clear surround sound, what we don’t realize is that, behind the glitz, glamour and stunning audio and visual experiences movies provide, one thing we probably don’t give much thought to is the staring role data plays in it all.

Special effects, animation, IMAX, 3D, CGI; these are just a few of the technologies that require staggering data demands. As you can see in this infographic produced by NetApp, big movies equal big data. Just a few stats of note:

  • Forecasts predict the entertainment industry’s total annual data production will reach 87,000 PB by 2017—a four-fold increase in just five years.
  • Uncompressed ultra HD frames are roughly 40 MB, which equates to about 1 MB per second. A typical two hour movie yields 20 hours of source content, adding up to more than 50 TB of data.
  • Even outside the theater, movies consume huge amounts of data. A movie can range from 150 MB for a version streamed to a mobile device to 54 GB for a 3D HD Blu-Ray version.

In addition to the data movies consume in their creation and consumption by fans, big data analytics are playing an increasing role in movie marketing and ensuring blockbusters generate maximum profit. Whether it’s using big data to help identify the best script writers, directors and actors, tallying weekly profits and performance variables, aggregating reviews, and other marketing insights, big data plays a big role in maximizing movie success. For any production houses that haven’t done so already, 2015 will be the year for reviewing technology usage and making sure that infrastructure is in place to deal with filmmaking’s ever-increasing data requirements.

So this Sunday night when you tune into the Oscars, follow the chatter on Twitter and other social media sites, and root for your favorite actors, directors and other movie magicians to walk away with that famous gold statuette, and spare a minute to marvel at the role data played and will continue to play in making movie magic happen.