Storage systems
innovator designs customized playback system for world’s first 120 fps, 3D

Chatsworth, CA—JMR Electronics recently
designed and built a high performance server and storage system for the
production of the world’s first high-frame-rate 3D movie. UFOTOG, a 10-minute short that tells the story of a man’s attempt
to photograph alien spacecraft, is the work of director, visual effects pioneer
and filmmaking visionary Douglas Trumbull. In a cinematic first, Trumbull shot
the film in stereoscopic 3D at 4K resolution and at a camera speed of 120
frames per second. JMR’s unique server and storage solution was used on the set
to collect, manage, playback and edit the huge amounts of image data produced
during the making of the film.

UFOTOG is more than a demonstration of high-frame-rate imagery; it
embodies Trumbull’s concept for a new form of cinematic entertainment. Known
for his work on such films as 2001: A Space OdysseyClose
Encounters of the Third Kind
Blade Runner
, Trumbull believes that films shot at ultra-high
resolution and frame rates (and supported by equally rich soundtracks) will
deliver a kind of immersive experience that will draw more people to movie
“Profoundly increasing the frame rate, results in a
tremendous increase in vividness and saturation, and an extremely lifelike illusion,”
Trumbull says. “What you see on the screen is less like a movie and more like a
live event.”
The production of the type of films that Trumbull envisions
will entail significant changes to current production workflows, in part to manage
the volume of data produced by high-resolution cameras shooting at ultra-high
frame rates. UFOTOG was shot with
Canon C500 cameras (paired in a 3ality 3D camera rig), recording RAW data to
Codex OnBoard S Recorders.  Actors and other live elements were primarily shot on a green screen stage
(at Trumbull’s studio) and composited into 3D virtual sets.
In order to make this work, Trumbull and his production team
needed the ability to perform real-time playback of the 120 fps, 4K, 3D camera
media, and quickly provide it to compositors. Designing an appropriate workflow
for that task proved daunting.
“The amount of data that we would be collecting on set was
the key issue,” recalls Timothy Huber of Theory Consulting, the project’s
technology consultant. “Doug needed a playback server that would work at 120
frames per second for both eyes. Virident Systems had a flash storage device
with the bandwidth to playback material at that speed, but the motherboards and
graphics processors couldn’t handle it. The bottleneck wasn’t the storage
infrastructure, it was everything else.”
Huber sought the support of JMR Electronics, which has been
designing and building storage solutions for more than 30 years. “They plugged
in the Virident cards and found the right combination of motherboard,
processor, memory and GPU,” Huber recalls. “Within two weeks, they got it
“JMR has a long history of pushing the envelope and
maximizing the performance of their systems,” Huber adds. “They know how to
integrate all the pieces. It’s more than knowing the specs for each processor;
you have to know how they all work together.”
The JMR capture server was initially brought onto the set
and used to facilitate real-time playback and compositing. Later, it was moved
to a near-set compositing facility while linked to the set via an InfiniBand 56
GB connection. JMR provided round-the-clock tech support.
“The system kept chugging away despite all the footage that
was thrown at it and some very long work cycles,” notes JMR Electronics
Technical Products Specialist Miguel A. Saldate. “It speaks to the quality of
our engineering, the way we build our boxes, the materials we choose, the way
we design air flow, the power provisioning, the component and software

Based on
their experience with UFOTOG,
Trumbull and Huber have begun drawing up workflows for future high-frame-rate
productions that include a similar flash storage capture server as its data
hub. “Once data is captured by the camera, it has to be downloaded into a
storage medium and then made available to compositors, editors and post
production people to manipulate and manage,” Trumbull explains. “That’s where
the JMR’s technology comes into play for us. Their products are at the leading
edge of workstations that allow artists to work at high bandwidth.”
JMR founder
and CEO Josef Rabinovitz commented, “We’re pleased to create cutting-edge
solutions for visionaries such as Doug Trumbull, and keep actively engaged
providing systems for 4K high frame-rate productions.  Similar hardware from JMR is used in high-resolution
digital airborne mapping for government agencies, and by technologists around
the world.”

JMR Electronics, Inc.

JMR is a leading value provider of scalable storage systems for high
performance and capacity driven applications for multiple markets including;
video and post-production, military and government, education, VOD, DCC,
gaming, security, medical imaging, HPC and Web 2.0. Since 1982, JMR’s reliable
and innovative RAID systems are proudly made in the U.S.A., manufactured
entirely from their Chatsworth, California facilities. JMR’s complete line of
SilverStor™  and BlueStor™ PeSAN™ DAS, NAS and SAN solutions handle nearly
every project’s need. Reliability. Innovation. Performance. This is JMR. For
further information please visit

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