Film companies are looking at new ways to preserve how their media is produced and archived. Specifically, Warner Bros. and Microsoft recently joined forces to test Project Silica, a project that uses laser optics and artificial intelligence to store data in quartz glass, TechSpot reports.
Project Silica’s storage process involved burning “voxels” into glass in a 3D array “to allow for a high storage density;” a piece of glass that is 2 mm thick can contain over 100 layers of voxels “that physically deform the glass through laser pulses,” TechSpot reports.
One of the main purposes of the project is finding new ways to develop long-term storage solution for the cloud, especially as storage demand increases and moves away from “traditional magnetic media.” Warner Bros. was looking for a solution like this for its “cold” data, which entails archived, valuable data that isn’t frequently accessed. Its current solution involved more fragile storage options that required continuous maintenance.
So Far So Good
One of the results of Microsoft’s pilot was storing the 1978 Superman movie, which is 75.6 GB of data, in glass “no bigger than a drink coaster.” In order to integrate the data on glass, Microsoft encoded it with lasers, then tapped into machine learning to décor images and patterns created by light shining through the glass.
Not only did the silica glass provide a stronger storage solution for the entertainment company, it also brought improvements to Warner Bros.’s data. Brad Collar, SVP of global archives and media engineering at Warner Bros., told TechSpot that the glass allows data to be read the same way as it does when it comes out of the camera, which preserves the original pixels in the best possible manner.
The glass could provide additional benefits down the road, too. Due to its protective preservation properties, the Silica Glass project might enable entertainment companies to cut costs on creating archival film negatives for digitally shot content, since it is a cheaper and higher-quality replacement for physical archives. It could also help companies lower their carbon footprint since the glass doesn’t require “energy-intensive air conditioning” to maintain air quality.