News not only informs us of what’s happening around the world. Its investigative nature enhances our system of checks and balances, uncovering wrongdoings and deep-rooted conspiracies that undermine the very integral values of modern civil society.
No, we’re not here to discuss Mossack Fonseca, though its recent revelations do lend a certain credibility to what we plan to talk about.
Did you catch Disney’s latest animation film, Zootopia? For the benefit of those who didn’t, it tells the story of a rabbit police officer and red fox con artist working together to uncover a conspiracy involving the mysterious disappearance of predator civilians. Not many have realized this, but the movie’s ability to explain the concept of a conspiracy to adolescents is something to marvel at.
This makes you wonder about the storytelling power of animation, and whether it could further enhance our understanding of everyday news. Forget erudite commentary understood only by a handful. Think vernacular language, and its mass appeal.
From Cinema to News Screen
Famous animated films like Zootopia, Inside Out, Kung Fu Panda and Toy Story can take years to create. So is it even possible to produce one in a matter of hours just in time for the evening news? One company can: Next Media Animation (NMA).
Based in Taipei, NMA is currently the world’s fastest 3D computer animation studio best known for its signature reenactment videos that reimagine news stories on a humorous and visual level; especially for stories that lack video footage or visual reports. The numbers speak for themselves: 60 to 80 original animated news reenactments every 24 hours, two-hour turnarounds for each animated reenactment, 35 million monthly views, 156 countries.
Unbeknownst to many, animation is a storage intensive process which requires a massive amount of bandwidth. Companies like NMA exceed its storage capacity every week! Is this sustainable in the long run? Of course not. Much has changed since NMA deployed a highly scalable storage solution featuring anseries with 10 nodes – delivering eight gigabytes per second throughput, alongside an series with four nodes dedicated to 3D rendering.
“We can meet our own two-hour production time easily with the help of the EMC storage platform. The scalability and performance of Isilon, configured with Autodesk Maya 3D software, helps our teams deliver high quality content while gaining a competitive advantage over other studios that might take two weeks to produce an animated story,” explains Peter Pang, IT Director at Next Media Animation.
When it comes to reporting news, timeliness is a no-brainer. Yet at times, the focus on speed can overshadow that of reliability. Consider the scenario of car-road interaction. You can have the fastest sports car in the world but if the road is badly maintained and filled with potholes, all that potential horsepower would come to naught. NMA relies onfor continuous data backup across the storage platform to ensure a smooth road ahead with zero operational interruptions.
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A Definitive Heavier Load
A decade ago, High Definition (HD) revolutionized the element of detail on screens which we take for granted today. And with it, the quality of animation film features. Try watching Pixar’s first Toy Story on a conventional DVD, and then Inside Out on Blu-ray. The difference is startling.
If you thought we’ve reached the pinnacle of screen definition, you couldn’t be more wrong. A decade later, we are witnessing the emergence of 4K Ultra HD TVs (a.k.a. UHD TVs). According to, 4K TVs deliver four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD. Putting it in greater detail, that’s eight million pixels versus two million pixels.
While the adoption of 4K broadcasting standards amongst stations is still nascent, I believe it’s only a matter of time before they do so – driven by increased consumer purchases of UHD TV consoles.
Encompass Digital Media is one company that has already readied itself for this future demand. The Singapore-based broadcast specialist is currently a host to popular sports broadcasters and television networks, offering both HD and 4K services, including fixed teleport and remote satellite uplink transmissions for backhaul, production, and origination services.
Like NMA, they rely on EMC scale-out storage to ensure there are no gaps in content delivery to their video playout servers.
“It is a given that we provide 24/7 services with 100 percent uptime for all our customers. It does not matter how big our files are, the Isilon solution enables us to meet our customer service expectations without fail,” says Aaron Shaw, Senior Vice President, Operations and Engineering at Encompass.
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