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Show me the Money, Quickly!


Boutique post-production suite ‘pixelfantastic’ based in east London, has for the past 20 years specialised in filming music promos, colour grading, broadcast editing, 2D/3D matchmoving, HD standards conversion, media encoding, stereoscopic 3D and also creating fantastic surround sound audio for mainstream broadcasters in UK, Europe and America. Regularly entrusted with producing top quality content for some of the top 50 music artists in the world, pixelfantastic has been involved in music videos for hundreds of artists from David Bowie through to three of the four judges on current BBC1 hit television show “The Voice”.

In this industry it's not unusual to be asked to do the impossible, but from time to time a job comes up which seems even more extreme than all the other extreme requests.

Barrie Williams The phone call which broke the silence of an otherwise quiet Thursday morning was simply a request from a production company running the screens at Leicester Square as to whether we could do a film edit "before tomorrow evening". That's a normal request in this industry so we took the job.

It later transpired that the edit was to re-cut a complete two-hour feature film, ‘Jerry Maguire’ starring Tom Cruise & Renee Zellweger. “The film needed to be ingested, re-cut and then re-made into a Blu-ray DVD ready for a mixed-age public performance in Leicester Square, London, the following evening. The Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., who played the character of Rod in the film was already aboard his flight to London to attend the viewing which we hadn’t yet edited …

The problem was that the film was sent to us on a Blu-ray DVD which had copy protection. This meant we were unable to ingest it. There was no time to use a software method to extract the data, but I remembered that the Matrox Convert DVI Plus was able to record DVD and Blu-ray material in high-definition from DVI to HD-SDI with embedded audio. So I connected a laptop to the Convert DVI Plus and ingested the whole film into the Quantel in one pass with audio and video. Synchronisation between audio to video was perfect and the quality was superb.

The task then became one of identifying any unsuitable words or scenes and finding an appropriate way to replace them or cover them over. With such a tight timeframe there was no time even for the clients to watch the film through when we had finished editing. The responsibility was great and the time constraint just added to the pressure.Fortunately the film studio that commissioned the job was also the copyright holder of the film, so we didn't feel guilty about circumnavigating their copy protection.

Notwithstanding the pressures involved, we managed to complete the job within the timeframe and budget, all thanks to our Matrox Convert DVI Plus. We have a full SDI workflow in the studio, so being able to bridge that pro workflow with the more consumer-end DVI cabling has become essential.

For the Jerry Maguire project we needed to ingest some difficult material at broadcast quality but were unable to ingest at all using other systems.With an HD-SDI workflow we need an easy and reliable way to ingest computer output for inclusion in broadcast programmes, so the Convert DVI Plus will become a permanent fixture in the studio. It’s a great product that allows us to do jobs that other systems cannot do to the same high broadcast quality.

Barrie Williams is owner and DOP at pixelfantastic studios. He started his working career at the age of 17 as a professional jazz musician and has recorded over a dozen albums, and still regularly records at Abbey Road Studios. His music arrangements can often be heard on radio stations across the UK.