Digital Postproduction and Pablo Take On HD Challenge
May 27, 2009

Digital Postproduction and Pablo Take On HD Challenge

Newbury, U.K. - Paris post house Digital Postproduction, a subsidiary of Groupe Transatlantic, invested in a Pablo color-correction and finishing system to complete its HD offering for producers and broadcasters. The Pablo is equipped with the new Neo control panel.
"The post business has radically changed over the last few years," explains Thierry Daghero, managing director of Digital Postproduction. "Producers and broadcasters now expect a global offer from the post facility to enable them to complete global projects. They don't come to us today, as they did in the past, looking for any specific piece of kit. They want us to propose a full range of services and solutions to get their post work done as efficiently as possible, with very demanding criteria, in both artistic and financial terms. English speakers call their post houses facilities, which means they expect post houses to facilitate their task. We consider ourselves 'facilitators'. With the development of HD, which is very demanding technically, the essential role of the facility is really to accompany the client through this change."

With this approach in mind, Digital Postproduction chose to integrate a Quantel Pablo into its HD production workflow. "Quantel's Pablo responds to the needs of our producer and broadcaster clients,” continues Daghero. “It's a complete solution, with a very realistic value-for-money proposition. Before, we had the choice between two extremes: on the one hand, very expensive DI grading stations that were designed for feature films and which required endless peripheral stations and, on the other hand, PC-based systems that were a lot cheaper, but which were too slow in terms of processing time and rendering."

This combination of performance and precision were the key criteria in Digital Postproduction's decision. Thierry Seux, operations engineer, explains: "The Pablo Neo is a complete machine, which allows us to color correct with great finesse, and which also gives us a complete toolset which covers all our finishing needs: compositing, SFX, mastering, versioning, etc. We also have various ergonomic choices, covering the full range of practices from traditional color grading to Quantel-based techniques. But, that's not all. The Pablo allows us to see the real final image right away, since there are no proxies and since we work with full HD, non-compressed images. On top of that, Pablo gives us real-time processing, which enables the director of photography or the director to work alongside our operators."

Pablo processes HD at the speed of SD, but beyond, in this period of transition with several standards being used, it offers the possibility of dealing with different resolutions on the same timeline. "This is really something that works well in Quantel systems," asserts Thierry Seux. "The capacity to handle different resolutions at the same time, what Quantel calls Resolution Coexistence, is a real plus. We have to integrate archive elements, as well as material shot in different formats, especially for documentaries and docu-dramas. With Pablo, we can mix all of these sources and even do compositing, which really makes life a lot simpler."

A radical change in the broadcasting landscape is generating opportunities, but also challenging traditional work methods. Producers, directors, and directors of photography are obliged to learn to use this format, which is constantly changing. "HD forces everyone to reconsider their way of doing things," says Thierry Daghero. "The role of post facilities is also changing and we increasingly participate in pre-production meetings with directors and directors of photography. They come to see us upstream, especially for their choice of cameras, which have a direct impact on the post-production workflow. Beyond that, we also act as technology advisors and we regularly organize breakfast sessions where we look at the changes in HD and exchange our experiences."

Not only is HD a major technical leap, it's also a major economic challenge. "Faced with fragmented audiences and lower advertising revenues, broadcasters are forced to produce more with less," explains Thierry Daghero. "Producers are being asked to work in HD, while programme budgets are being pared down. It's therefore essential to propose a new business model and new ways of working. We are aware that we have to contribute to finding a solution to this problem, with reasonable post-production rates. Quantel's Pablo is part of that solution."