It is late one evening in 1963. The final
strains of the national anthem have died away and the black and white screen
has faded to black. The BBC's only television service has closed down for
Time to turn off the television and head for dreamland? Maybe, though not for a small band of pioneers in Studio H at Lime Grove in Shepherd's Bush. For them the dream of television in full colour is already a reality and they are standing by to transmit in colour to a favoured few who have test receivers at home. Anyone can receive the transmissions, testing the contending colour systems, though few can see them in colour.
Among the pioneers working in Studio H at that time was a bright young engineer and a keen young cameraman. You see them at the top of this page as they are today: Jeff Meadows and yours truly.
After a long spell working in the USA, Jeff Meadows returned to the United Kingdom to be Managing Director of Sony Broadcast, later moving on to become MD of Quantel.
Below: Digitising motion picture frames -
a view into the Domino scanner.
Quantised television - digital television images - are the two words from which Quantel is derived. Founded in the early 1970s, the first products enabled television pictures to be flown around the screen. Next came the famous Quantel Paintbox®, the digital graphic design studio which soon became a household name, changing for ever the design of television graphics. Later, the Graphic Paintbox brought the same facilities to photographers and designers who require extremely high resolution retouching and manipulation for large-format images used on the printed page and billboard. Alongside Barco Creator, Crosfield Mamba and Kodak Premier, Graphic Paintbox is a high-end product for high-end images. This month's cover photograph, by Paul Wenham Clarke, is one of many to use Quantel Paintbox and was supplied to The Photographer sampled down from the original 400Mb file, which was suitable for writing back to 8 x 10 inch transparency.
The Graphic Paintbox brought Quantel squarely into the world of photography and printing, a presence broadened by the introduction of Printbox in 1993. Printbox adds Quantel's expertise in speed and workflow to the field of PostScript pre-press. It is a true multi-tasking page makeup environment, where any operation - scanning, manipulation, text, pictures and layout - can be carried on simultaneously, without bottleneck.
The launch of Domino in 1993 took Quantel
into Digital Opticals for Movies. Frames are digitised using a Quantel scanner,
using Oxberry mechanics, to be worked on in the digital environment before
being written back to motion picture film, or directly output to high definition
or conventional television. 'UK LA' is a recent project which combined,
restored and colour matched 270 clips from a century of British movies using
Quantel is ideally placed at the important
strategic crossroads of film, graphics, photography, printing and television.
Among many awards are eight Queen's Awards and five Emmies. One of the few
major British photographic manufacturers, there is no doubt that Quantel
will feature prominently as still photography merges with other imaging
crafts. No other company has Quantel's breadth of experience in digital
Quantel's research and development laboratory
is full of bright young pioneers. Like their boss, Jeff Meadows, at the
BBC in the early 'sixties, they are working to bring the most creative and
cost-effective digital colour to our images in real time - whether
they be in the form of print, transparency, motion picture film, television
or on the printed page.