Quantel Pablo Helps Modern VideoFilm Finish Avatar
December 15, 2009

Quantel Pablo Helps Modern VideoFilm Finish Avatar

Newbury, UK - US West Coast facility Modern VideoFilm is nearing completion of all the finishing work for James Cameron’s forthcoming Stereo3D film Avatar. Every frame of the film as well as all the trailers and promotions have passed through Modern’s pipeline, which includes three Quantel Pablo Stereo3D systems. The work completed on Pablo includes conforming and Stereo3D checking, adjustment and quality control. Crucially, the Pablos have also handled all the Stereo3D English subtitling required for the Na’vi language used by some characters in the film
Avatar, to be released on December 18th, is a massively ambitious project that combines live action Stereo3D with cutting edge 3D animation. Around 75% of the shots in the movie are VFX shots, which are being completed at facilities all round the world and then brought together at Modern VideoFilm.

Avatar is a simultaneous worldwide release in both 2D and 3D and at three different aspect ratios. To deal with the massive workload, Modern has set up a powerful and efficient post production pipeline using a wide range of equipment. All the shots are re-named to a common naming strategy as soon as they arrive at Modern and are distributed onto the company’s SAN. From there they are pulled into the Quantel Pablo systems where they are first checked using Pablo’s real-time Stereo3D tool set for stereo and technical quality, then conformed against multiple lists from editorial, requiring speed and accuracy. The pipeline continues with grading and finally, shots requiring subtitling for the Na’vi language are passed back to the Pablos.

“We’ve been running our three Pablos pretty much 24/7 for the last six months,” says Modern VideoFilm supervising editor, Roger Berger, who has worked on a number of Stereo3D projects including James Cameron’s Ghosts of the Abyss. “Such has been the interest in this movie that there has been a huge demand for finished movie footage for promotional events over the last few months, each typically 10 to 20 minutes in length – all before the shots are finalized and of course needing to be produced while we continued to finish the movie itself. We’ve also needed to produce different versions and run ‘bake offs’ between them with James Cameron. One of the Pablos has an incredible 12,000 clips online, and all three machines have been running pretty much full throughout. With a project of this complexity, it’s a real benefit to be able to bounce anywhere in the entire movie at any time,” Berger adds. “Quantel has given us terrific support. They’re there for us and spring into action when we need them.”

Subtitling the Stereo3D versions is a complex process as the subtitles must sit at the right place in 3D space to avoid conflict with the 3D content. The Pablo’s realtime Stereo3D toolset enables the subtitles to be viewed instantly and repositioned in 3D space in realtime. Berger is enjoying the luxury of being able to see the Stereo3D effects as he creates them. “I can’t imagine doing this project without the Pablo’s realtime Stereo3D and the total flexibility it gives me,” Berger concludes.

Mark Smirnoff, president, Studio Services at Modern VideoFilm, says: “At Modern VideoFilm we pride ourselves on delivering total quality for our clients. This is about more than great equipment – it’s about great people too; we are blessed with both at Modern. The Pablos are a key part of the pipeline and we could not have done this movie without Pablo. ”