Carlton-owned facility The Moving Picture Company (MPC) is investing£1m in a digital film lab, writes Sam Espensen.
Hot on the heels of fellow Soho facility VTR spending£4m on film post-production technology, the company has installed Quantel's digital film system IQ to cope with an increase in film-related work coming into the UK. The system, which sells for around£300,000 without any add-ons, forms part of a£1m investment by MPC in the lab. IQ can cope with real-time 2K operation, has three hours of 2K workspace, and is configured to Quantel's Qcolor grading system. It will allow clients to digitally conform and grade entire feature films (or long-form drama) from 35mm/16mm and video. Distribution formats can then be repurposed onto other formats from the graded master.
Head of production Mike Elson told Broadcast that MPC has "waited some time before entering into this market fully, and that's because we didn't think any piece of kit offered the range that our clients want. The grading process in a lab is very basic and IQ offers a huge amount of flexibility."
Although Elson is naturally reluctant for clients to change an edit during grading, the IQ has a full edit suite on offer as well and says: "You're dealing with few parameters. We can make changes while keeping any grading done and applying it to new conforms. The director or editor can make changes all the way up to that final commitment on film."
He added that not only does it "far exceed anything you can do in the lab, you can run it all in real-time, and what you see on the monitor is exactly what you'll get back on film, so it's a logical step for us."
Recent film work by the company includes both Harry Potter movies and Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. The film FX division has also expanded over the past year and is currently working on Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Lifeand Ted and Sylvia. Denying that film FX work is on the decline in the UK, Elson said that "it's very buoyant at the moment, and a testament to Soho that several companies are doing really good work. And that means there's confidence from the studios to give us very exciting stuff."