This is a short, to the point post, about sustainability in production. Many production companies are cutting down on flights, travel, and single use plastics to ensure that they can plug their data into the production calculator and come up with a net zero figure.

But if you’re archiving the rushes for that TV ad or TV series online, or on hard drives, you might as well add multiple fights and hundreds of tons of plastic to your production.

Storing just a few terabytes of rushes on a new hard drive, and leaving it on a shelf, adds around 400kg CO2e to each production. That’s the same as adding four budget European flights to your carbon budget. Storing online is not any better, your online provider will store that data multiple times (for redundancy), on new hard drive storage, so the figure will be at least double. Using a data centre that purports to have renewable energy, does not mitigate this, there was no renewable energy used to manufacture, ship, and dispose of the equipment, the building, the water use, the concrete, the refrigerants!

The takeaway? If you’re finished the work and only need to keep the data to access occasionally, keep it on large capacity LTO tapes. They are extremely low carbon (less than half a kilogram for a terabyte), robust, much safer than drives as they won’t degrade or fail after a few years of not being spun.

Using new hard drives to store long term data on is like buying a new kettle each time you want to make a tea. It’s the overlooked carbon in your net zero production.  Responsible production, right until the end of the project, needs to be implemented.