Post production specialist, Quantel, has been producing systems at the forefront of technology for more than 30 years. Based in Newbury, Berkshire, the company’s cinema has existed as a research and demonstration facility for half of that time, providing a facility to develop, test and demonstrate its capability to produce world-leading content creation systems for broadcast, post production and Digital Intermediate (DI).
Historically, Quantel used film, often in short test loops, but started using dual projectors to develop and display DI and 3D technology prior to the recent rebuild. The virtual doubling in size of the cinema provided an opportunity to invest in more modern projection for both 2D and 3D — with a further option to upgrade to 4K, according to David Throup, R&D Group Leader at Quantel.
As their digital cinema projector of choice they have opted for a Christie® CP4220 DLP Cinema® device, supplied by cinema specialists, Sound Associates. “In the end the decision came down to Christie’s reputation for quality, and the upgrade path of the projector — which made perfect sense to us,” said Throup.
“Frame rates and sizes continue to grow and so we are always pushing the boundaries of what is possible,” he said. “The CP4220 is the first Christie projector we have owned although we have used them at trade shows over the years, and it fits the bill for upgradable technology.”
In fact Quantel has already fully utilized the Christie upgrade capability to operate on the 4K platform. “And soon we will be looking for the next step in performance,” Throup added.
The projector selection had been made following careful research. With a large number of their high-end post customers owning their own cinema facilities, David Throup took the opportunity to call on their experience. “We were able to find out what steps they had taken to make their facilities work for them — we then took the best suggestions and built them into the Quantel cinema,” he declared.
And the feedback they received included the 22,000 lumens Christie projector, which is driven directly from Quantel’s own technology over SDI links, incorporating RealD for the 3D display technology.
Deployed largely for R&D, training and sales presentations, Quantel knew that the quality of the CP4220 projection would at the same time serve to optimize their own systems.
The cinema itself mainly runs directly from the company’s Pablo Rio high-end color and finishing system, using multiple 3G HD-SDI links. For training and more corporate presentations, they also work with PCs and DVD sources.
The new cinema has become the flagship of the Newbury operation. The demo suite has ten luxurious seats plus the Neo color-grading console with operator and additional seating for clients who want to get hands-on.
Since they need to support both 2D and 3D, Quantel has opted for a silver high gain screen, which is compatible with RealD polarizing technology. David Throup acknowledges that while this is not perfect for 2D color grading, since the company is a private facility and does not handle commercial work, so this hardly matters.
And so with Christie on board, Quantel will continue to push the boundaries of postproduction in its hi-tech facility. “The partnership with Christie is already proving highly credible with our clients,” summarized David Throup. “In fact, we are already talking to Christie about the next steps to support the formats we will need over the coming year. We have been extremely happy with the quality of the on-screen image and that, in turn, makes our equipment look even better!”