Headquarters Newbury, United Kingdom
Founded 1973, United Kingdom
Founder Peter Michael
|Industry Broadcast television, video production and motion picture|
Key people Peter Michael (Founder) Richard Taylor OBE (Former Chairman) Paul Kellar MBE (Former Research Director)
Products Digital production equipment
Number of employees 1,000 plus (1995) approx 250 (2014)
Stock price QUA (EPA) € 5.36 +0.34 (+6.77%)20 Mar, 5:35 PM GMT+1 - Disclaimer
CEO Timothy Edward Thorsteinson (2 Mar 2015–)
Subsidiaries Snell, Quantel Laser Diodes, Quantel Inc., Dermoptics S.A.S., Quantel Medical SAS, Quantel-USA, Inc.
Quantel editbox training video tape 1 5
Quantel was a company based in the United Kingdom and founded in 1973 that designed and manufactured digital production equipment for the broadcast television, video production and motion picture industries. They were headquartered in Newbury, Berkshire.
- Quantel editbox training video tape 1 5
- Teardown 150k 1990s quantel editbox for broadcast video editing
- Recent history
- Headquarters and manufacturing
- Effect Systems Limited
- Product technology and usage
- Quantel designed technologies
Quantel acquired Snell Ltd. in March 2014. Following a period of consolidation the two companies started operating under the Snell name, trading as Snell Advanced Media or SAM, from September 2015, following the staged removal of the Quantel board of directors beginning with CEO Ray Cross.
The name Quantel comes from Quantised Television, in reference to the process of converting a television picture into a digital signal.
Teardown 150k 1990s quantel editbox for broadcast video editing
Quantel founder, Peter Michael, had previously founded Micro Consultants Group (MCG). MCG had pioneered a range of fast data conversion products that could be used for converting video signals from analog to digital and back to analog. These devices found use in many early Quantel products.
In the 1980s, Peter Michael merged Quantel (along with his other interests) into the UEI Group of companies. Peter became Chairman with Quantel remaining a privately owned company of the publicly quoted UEI. Under the leadership of Richard Taylor OBE, chairman from 1975 and Paul Kellar MBE, Quantel made several pioneering firsts in video:
This period until 1998 marked the high point of the Company's profitability, size and market position, placing it in the top handful of Broadcast vendors. The company had a global presence with major offices, staff and facilities on the east and west coast of the USA, in Paris, Tokyo, London, Seoul, Hong Kong and Sydney, plus other overseas resources. There was a private air operation - Quantel Aviation - based in Farnborough which included a private Citation IV executive jet. However, as software based products began to gain ground in Quantel's then core businesses of compositing, graphics and news editing, the company was not able to maintain this position.
In 1989 Quantel had been acquired from UEI by Carlton Communications who had also acquired high end sound console manufacturer Solid State Logic as part of the same deal. This relationship ended in 2000 when Quantel management bought the company back for $76.6m funded by Lloyds Banking Group venture capital arm LDC.
From 2000 to 2005, Quantel then specialized in:
December 2005 saw the forced departure from the board of long-standing Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Taylor OBE by owners LDC in conjunction with Ray Cross - who had worked as an external consultant with Taylor and LDC to create the business plan to present to Lloyds Banking Group for the 2000 management buyout from Carlton Communications. Richard Taylor was subsequently diagnosed with cancer in December 2008 and died in June 2009.
Research & Development Director Paul Kellar MBE, who had been key to Quantel's previous technology leadership, was replaced by Cross with another Quantel employee, Neil Hinson. Neil had joined Quantel in 1980 and played a pivotal part in the design of many of the most successful Quantel products including Harry, Henry, Mirage and Clipbox as well as the later generationQ family of products but was also quickly replaced by Cross with another Quantel employee, Simon Rogers in December 2008.
In the autumn of 2008 Cross made a sizeable round of redundancies, citing that the company was moving towards being more software based. Cross engaged in another round of redundancies in April 2009, giving the reason that the global recession has been deeper than had been planned for. Cross made further redundancies in October 2012, giving the reason that their quarterly results were not as good as they had planned for.
In March 2014 Quantel acquired Snell Ltd. also owned by Lloyds and began the consolidation of the two companies. Cross made further redundancies, primarily in the former Snell organisation. Like Quantel, Snell (as Snell and Wilcox) had formerly been a major player in the broadcast space but also like Quantel had seen a long term decline in its market position and profitability. Although both companies sat in the media technology space, each had quite separate, but complementary products.
In its heyday under Taylor, Quantel was ranked in the top four Broadcast vendors and had one of the strongest brand names. Finally after almost 10 years of Cross downsizing Quantel and after apparently several failed attempts to sell the business, Cross himself was removed by backers Lloyds Development Capital in March 2015, replaced by former Grass Valley CEO Tim Thorsteinson, chosen on a "proven track record of value creation". Thorsteinson subsequently sacked the entire Quantel board of directors. Finally in September 2015, the Quantel name was dropped and the residual business placed inside the Snell operation, branded as Snell Advanced Media (SAM). Thorsteinson has previously been involved in downsizing and restructuring other Broadcast companies, such as Grass Valley and Harris, in order to prepare them for sale, which was the role LDC had originally brought Cross in to Quantel to achieve.
Headquarters and manufacturing
Quantel was based at 31 Turnpike Road, Newbury, Berkshire, England since 1982. The 126,000 sq ft (11,700 m2) building was built on the 6.7-acre (27,000 m2) site in 1940 for Vickers Armstrong and manufactured Spitfire fighter aircraft during World War II. Air raid shelters are still present in the grounds of the site. Other users of the building included the Post Office and the Ministry of Transport.
A large part of the site was dedicated to manufacturing. It is now very rare that companies manufacture their own products due to the complex nature of multiple layer circuit boards containing high density surface mounted components. It is more common now to design complex circuits on a computer and await delivery of a ready built board or simply use off the shelf IT.
New circuit boards in turn contain large Field Programmable Gate Array chips which can be programmed when a device starts up. This can create a single circuit board which previously would have been made up of a larger amount of chips across more boards all requiring manufacturing and testing with increased cost.
Effect Systems Limited
As part of ongoing restructuring during the 1990s, Quantel decided to outsource support of legacy products to a separate company Effect Systems. Also based in Newbury and staffed by many ex Quantel staff, Effect Systems took over support for products. These include Editbox, Henry, Hal, Paintbox, Picturebox, Domino as well as older products dating back to the 1980s including Mirage, Harry and Encore.
On 1 October 2008 Quantel ended the outsourcing contract with Effect Systems. Effect will continue to offer independent support for Quantel legacy equipment.
Product technology and usage
Traditionally, Quantel systems were based around proprietary hardware & software. With the introduction of the generationQ range a number of Quantel products were based on Microsoft Windows and standard PC hardware with occasional use of custom hardware.
Quantel was always been very protective of their product designs and patents especially relating to Paintbox type functionality. This triggered a number of legal battles over the years, most notably against Spaceward Graphics and their Matisse system (won in 1990) and Adobe Systems and their Photoshop application (lost in 1997).
The majority of Quantel products used code names for some parts of their systems. One source of code names was the television series The Magic Roundabout. The Dylan disk system and the Zebedee processor take their names from characters in this series.
Many of the major movies released since 1999 were created or manipulated using Quantel technology, including Star Wars episode 2 and 3, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Day After Tomorrow, and Sin City. Users of sQ server based systems include ESPN in the USA, Rogers Media in Canada, and BBC, BSkyB and QVC in the United Kingdom.
Dynamic Rounding - Dynamic Rounding was a technique devised by Quantel for truncating the word length of pixels – an unavoidable process when processing images. Rather than simply losing the lower bits, Dynamic Rounding uses their information to control, via a randomiser, the dither of the LSB of the truncated result. This effectively removes any artefacts that would otherwise be visible. Dynamic rounding is non-cumulative on any number of passes and produces statistically correct results. Dynamic rounding eliminates any truncation artefacts.
FrameMagic - A system used on video servers where video clips are treated as individual frames rather than a single clip. This allows very efficient use of storage as only frames used in subsequent edits need to be kept from an original recording. This allows the rest of the unused frames to be discarded.
TimeMagic - A background rendering system which renders editing effects as the operator continues working.
Resolution Co-existence - Allows a video edit to be made up of different formats of source material without any extra work required by the operator. One example is an edit that will play out standard definition but some parts of the edit may be part of a high definition source clip.
Genetic Engineering - A technology that allowed multiple users to work on the same media independently without having to have multiple copies of it.