The Petabyte will dominate film storage in coming years
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

The sequel to James Cameron's Avatar will require at least one petabyte (PB) of storage space (Image:

Most people are now familiar with terabytes – a measure of memory or storage capacity equal to a thousand gigabytes. Well, the lesser known petabyte is approximately a thousand terabytes and, with the development of 4K TV (also called Ultra HD) and other high-resolution venues in the home and in mobile devices, it will soon become a household name.

Use the 2009 movie Avatar as a frame of reference. The rendering of that feature film, the world’s most expensive movie ever made, required one petabyte of space – and it is not a 4K film. Avatar was captured in 2K using 3D film. In 2014, just five years after the release of Avatar, it took 2.4 PB to convert The Amazing Spider Man, starring Jamie Foxx, into a 4K movie.

Now Avatar creator James Cameron is planning the movie’s sequel to be shot with 4K. “You know we’ll be shooting at a native resolution, probably of 4K, and so there should be a lot of true 4K theaters by then as well,” the director told

Overall cloud storage for media and entertainment is expected to grow 24 times between 2014 and 2020 – from 763 PB to 18,224 PB. Cloud storage revenue will exceed $2.1 billion by 2020 and silver halide film as a content distribution media will vanish before the end of the decade, according to a new report analyzing the role of digital storage in all aspects of professional media and entertainment. Storage media revenue is expected to increase by about 23% from 2014 to 2020 ($469 M to $578 M).

The 2015 Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment Report, the 11th annual report from Coughlin Associates on digital storage in media and entertainment, provides 223 pages of in-depth projections out to 2020 on the digital storage demand for content capture, post-production, content distribution, and content archiving.

Here are three fascinating takeaways about storage for media and entertainment:

Traditional film is going the way of the dinosaur
Survey results show that 66% of professional cameras use flash memory in 2015. It is currently the dominant recording media used in cameras and it plays an important role in content distribution and post-production. The use of magnetic tape and film are rapidly declining.

Film storage needs are going to explode
As image resolution and frame rates increase and as multi-camera video becomes more common, storage requirements will become more in demand and more costly. The development of 4K TV and other high-resolution venues in the home and in mobile devices will drive the demand for digital content (especially enabled by high HEVC (H.265) compression.

The petabyte will eventually become too small
Over 60 Exabytes of new digital storage will be used for digital archiving and content conversion and preservation by 2020. By the next decade, total video captured for a high-end digital production could be hundreds of PB, approaching 1 Exabyte.

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.