User Story: Pixelfantastic uses cineXtools for AS11-DPP and 4K

With a career spanning over a quarter of a century, Barrie Williams, owner of Pixelfantastic, has had a ringside seat at the evolution of post-production workflows. Pixelfantastic is a boutique facility specializing in color, conform and file-delivery for concerts, documentaries and episodic television.

Barrie has delivered literally hundreds of shows over the years using a variety of mastering formats including tape, AS-11/DPP and UHD/4K files. While best known for color-grading, Pixelfantastic’s expertise also includes audio mastering, and repairing difficult-to-fix Harding PSE errors. Recent works include 4K grading, conform and delivery for “Stevie Wonder – Live at Hyde Park”, remastering an entire series of “Guitar Center Sessions”, “Blur: Live in Hong Kong”, the Bestival festival, BST – Hyde Park series, and concert specials for artists like Kylie Minogue, Ella Eyre, Pharrell Williams and Take That. It’s likely that if it’s got anything to do with music for broadcast television in the UK, it’s probably been touched by Pixelfantastic for one reason or another.

Mr. Williams is an early adopter, and expert user, of cineXtools and insert-edit technology, having applied cineXtools on nearly all his projects since his purchase back in late 2016. He tells us, “Ben Wainwright-Pearce, a superb London-based editor who I’ve worked with for many years, said I needed to take a look at cineXtools. I’d not heard of it, but he’d never recommended anything to me before so I thought I should take a look. I’m really grateful he called me!”

It’s clear why Mr. Wainwright-Pearce encouraged Barrie to seriously consider cineXtools. There is a frequent and regular back and forth exercise between offline and conform/online because oftentimes information isn’t available to validate whether a title, start time, credit, or any number of other things is correct to begin with. “Typically, editors will send me the ‘finished’ edit for grading, we would finish the grade and send it back for viewing. This is often the point when the decision makers watch the program with full concentration, and ten minutes later there would be a phone call to say there’s a spelling mistake in a super. Then twenty minutes after that, a request would come through to change the credits, and can we also change the opening titles, and we also need to take out one of the songs because legal clearance has been refused,” explains Barrie. “These last-minute changes are unforeseen and uncontrollable when working on fast turnaround shows but during the final viewing of the finished master, all these changes suddenly become a priority. There will be penalties for late delivery and with the deadline just hours away, there just isn’t time to re-export the show.”

The challenges of file-based workflows are not new to Barrie. “I moved to file-based workflows when everybody else did, after the tsunami in Japan wiped out all the SR tape stock,” he says. “When we lost HDCamSR delivery, we lost the most valuable function of tape: being able to insert-edit to the existing video.” In addition to the challenges of no longer being able to make fast insert-edits, Barrie comments on the fundamental difference between tape and file deliverables. “When there was an issue with a program, the broadcaster would send the tape back, and I would simply insert the change. When we sent the same tape back with an inserted fix, the broadcaster would recognize the tape and only re-QC the segment flagged on the changelog. However, with files, and before cineXtools, every change was a new export – a brand new file that I am required to QC again and re-certify that it passes a long list of technical checks. We never had that problem with SR tape. If I only changed the credits on tape, we would only need to re-QC that segment, not the entire program.”

Pixelfantastic was started in 1989 and have color-graded and mastered content for some of the most influential, high-profile musical artists and acts including Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Kylie Minogue, Blur and David Bowie. With a full Resolve color-grading theater and a ProTools suite, Pixelfantastic’s boutique post-facility boasts a complete end to end finishing workflow in a comfortable, laid back setting.

As a musician himself, Barrie has an ear and eye for the editorial process for artists and musicians and feels that he is ultimately the custodian of his clients’ art for the duration of the production, resulting in work that is completely in tune with the artist’s goals.

For a complete list of credits visit: http://pixelfantastic.com/

w: http://pixelfantastic.com/ | e: pixelfantastic@mac.com | p: +44 1268 710 900