Quantel - the paintbox, and more

Here’s a presentation from the recent VCF East:
Quantel’s Paintbox: The Computer That Changed What We See - Adrian Wilson

And here’s a BBC television program from the time (quoted in the presentation) - Michael Rodd presenting The Risk Business

(Quantel being a very British company, competing in the US with the usual cross-cultural difficulties.)


Quick update, for those in need of more info… dexters_lab aka Mark describes the original hardware thusly:

The DPB-7000/1 was the first ‘paintbox’, introduced at NAB in 1981 and cost £120,000 although it wasn’t the first video painting system it was the most influential and a huge success for Quantel allowing artists to create TV graphics without the use of physical drawings, letraset and rostrum cameras it also allowed the editing of stills taken from existing video. When combined with the later systems like Encore, Mirage and Harry it formed a hugely powerful system able to perform multi-layer video compositing in the mid 1980s.

The paintbox system is a 7U rack unit containing connection ports and PSU in the rear and a bay of cards in the front. The system is controlled by a Motorola 68000 CPU with ROM and RAM spread across two computer cards. The software is contained in EPROM and has 512kb of working RAM. The remaining cards which are mostly based on 74x series logic, bit-slice processors along with a small number of programmable logic devices like PAL/GALs perform the painting operations, framestores, video input and output and disk interfacing etc. The two framestores contain nearly 4Mb RAM which for 1981 was a considerable amount! Video input and output is analog Composite PAL or RGB+Sync at full frame resolution (PAL 720*576)

and has a video showing the hardware:

Same chap also appears in this chat about the same hardware with Neil from RMC:

He describes a later model (Harriet, 1989, 68010) in the video and also here.

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