Quantel’s Pablo: A Tested Grading and Finishing System
While visiting the Panasonic booth at NAB, I had the chance to speak with Brad Wensley, a Senior Product Specialist at Quantel, who spoke with me about their grading and finishing system for HD, 2k, 4k and stereo3D called Pablo. Although perhaps best known for helping James Cameron solve a number of 3D challenges while making “Avatar”, the system has been around a lot longer and has proven to be powerful in many areas including conforming and Stereo3D checking, adjustment and quality control.
“Quantel’s been involved with 3D for about three years now. The first big project we did was “Hannah Montana” and that was done very, very quickly on the Pablo,” Brad related. Emphasizing the system’s ability to quickly reconverge part of a 3D image, he continued, “What the Pablo allows us to do is, it actively changes where the screen point falls, so as I reconverge the image, it knows that I can push more of the available scene data in front of the screen or behind the screen. Using the axis convergence control I can actually once again diverge the image a little and converge on a point deeper than the axis, so we can reframe,” he finished.
Pablo makes it possible for filmmakers to program dynamic moves as it goes through the system. This allows for correcting typical problems, such as diverging the right axis, which can be done quickly by reframing the image to fix wide divergence, a problem known to give viewers a headache. “The beauty of Quantel’s equipment is that you can do that all the way to the film resolution, so that you can work on your feature film in 3D in the theatre in context and see everything that is going on,” Wensley explained.
He went on to point out that another challenge filmmakers need to address when building their 3D systems is border issues, which is another area where the Pablo excells, since it can reframe shots quickly. Wensley mentioned that a look up table can also be added, showing the result a filmmaker will receive when projecting on a certain device. This process can add depth just by applying color correction and then afterwards, it can be played back instantly without any rendering, allowing the viewer to see how it is actually drawn. Another reason why the Windows based Pablo handles 3D projects smoothly is because of its ability to easily export project files. “It’s a very, very powerful tool,” Brad added.
Observing that the equipment needed for 3D is getting less expensive, he noted, “It seems like a lot more players are entering the market. What Quantel’s very good at is finishing in really, really high quality. A lot of filmmakers trust us to deliver in ways that’s going to be good enough to put out to an 80 foot screen and hold up on projection. What I see is that, honestly, Panasonic with this 3D camera is going to help a lot of filmmakers do 3D great, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to do it and the integration with Quantel is really seamless because we have access to the files. The key there, what that says to me, is that a lot of what goes on in 3D requires good planning and good shooting. Quantel just augments that and gives you the ability to fix some of the mistakes you might make and lets you beautify the image to the point where it really does look pretty to the eye.”