Yash Raj Films’ stable of about 55 films needed a storage solution to ensure the safety of many of its classics and make them easy to re-purpose. IT had just the solution.
As the creator of timeless movies such as Kabhi Kabhie, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, Yash Raj Films needs no proof of the amount of passion it brings to its business. For the company, the drive to make memorable films and woo its audiences have ensured that it has stayed relevant for over 40 years.
Whether it was Amitabh Bachchan in Silsila or Shahrukh Khan in Mohabbatein, or the recent Aamir Khan starrer Dhoom: 3, it’s important for Yash Raj Films that each moment and every bit of the eternal romance built into these films is never lost. The film company has a catalogue of about 55 outstanding triumphs to its credit and it strives to unceasingly produce its current average of seven to eight films per year.
To maintain this wealth of movies, the company was using a variety of devices such as servers, tape drives and HDDs. While it was a great start, it wasn’t optimal. Imagine, for instance, if Yash Raj Films decided to screen a 3D version of Silsila today; it would be tough to locate the film given its current storage arrangement. But, what perhaps worried executives at Yash Raj Films more, was the chance that some parts of a movie might be lost.
“Our film archive ran the risk of disk corruption or tape damage,” says Dilip Patil, general manager-digital, Yash Raj Films.
Each frame of a film was about 15 MB. In the event of a single frame being corrupted, it would mean losing time and productivity in identifying the frame and restoring it. Apart from the loss of art, this had a price attached to it. “This would result in an enormous cost to the company and in turn, affect our distributors and audience at large,” says Patil.
We were keen to make the digital shift because we consider digitization as a preservation strategy and because it ensures the protection of materials that are in a fragile format.
What YRF needed was a solution that could not only store its entire catalogue of film footage in a single location but also ensure content availability whenever it was required by all types of business stakeholders. “We were keen to make the digital shift because we consider digitization as a preservation strategy and because it ensures the protection of materials that are in a fragile format. Also it would make it easier to chase new opportunities for this industry to recoup investments through the exploitation of new distribution channels and devices,” says Patil.
After considering a number of options, Yash Raj Films chose a product to archive its film catalogue. “The solution allows us to integrate with our digital asset management software and the storage array lets us automate the meta-tagging process which was earlier a tedious manual task,” says Patil.
For instance, considering that the total digital assets of an entire film could take up to 12-15 terabytes of hard disk space, the solution allowed YRF to simplify search of its film frames and footage, current or old. A critical advantage was the snapshot restoration feature of which saved the company a significant amount of time and ensured that there weren’t any delays during a particular film’s promotion and distribution.
Simultaneously, thanks to technical innovation, there’s also been an increased use of computer-generated and computer-altered imagery, and a greater demand for high definition (HD) films. This has heightened the storage requirements of the media industry. Patil says that the media industry has to be on its toes and keep up with the latest technology in the world and, with a good IT solution backing up creative content, the industry’s growth will be unstoppable.
With a good storage solution, Yash Raj Films now has the flexibility to access and use its archived catalogue of films for a range of media projects across platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, among others.
“With these platforms being accessible to millions of film lovers, having an easily accessible film catalogue that is searchable—down to the level of the single frame—is critical for ensuring global distribution,” says Patil.
Additionally, the studio was able to deliver specific film files to dedicated workstations where the IT team could package the film or film clip in the appropriate format for upload, thereby ensuring maximum exposure for the entire catalogue. “We can now respond to our media partners’ requests within days, which previously used to take weeks,” says Patil.
Shubhra Rishi is senior correspondent. Send feedback to email@example.com