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QTake: the software system behind ‘Avatar 2’

Vlado Struhar, film director and programmer   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A decade ago, Slovakian film director and programmer Vlado Struhar developed QTake as “an on-set tool to capture takes, and provide playback, editing and compositing”. Now, updated to work remotely from anywhere with an internet connection, the software system is being used by directors and production studios the world over to ‘stream shoots’.

 

“I think the pandemic has made many productions realise they can work effectively using advanced remote tools. Just imagine what a waste it is to move the crew around the planet and accommodate them in every location, when most of them can sit in their office and collaborate on multiple projects remotely,” says Struhar.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Has QTake’s popularity gone up over the last few months?

Undeniably yes. Before the pandemic, most of QTake streaming was performed on set [over the local wireless network], to provide multi-camera monitoring for the local crew. QTake Cloud Stream [streaming over the internet] was mostly for live feeds between two units that were located apart or to give remote executives an overview of the filming progress.

However, the pandemic has forced film crews to minimise their presence on set and to utilise remote monitoring. QTake has been ready for this for years, so the transition was straightforward for all productions already using our Video Assist systems.

QTake is primarily an on-set tool that captures all takes, collects metadata into a database, provides playback, editing and compositing, to give you utmost control over the filming process. But one of the most exciting features today is streaming, because it allows the crew to use their portable devices to monitor the output of the video assist instead of gathering around SDI monitors. And thanks to the Cloud, this low-latency, high-security service can be extended to any location world-wide.

Are you introducing new tech to improve remote filming capabilities?

In addition to QTake Cloud Stream, which delivers live feeds during filming, we already offer independent playback and metadata collaboration via a service called QTake Cloud Sync. This means any approved user can access clips and notes from the set and send feedback.

Take editors for example, who could be located in the post house in a different time zone, having instant access to all the footage, including director’s notes, down to a frame if needed. As soon as they make their first cut, they can export the sequence back to the Cloud, which makes it immediately available for the director to watch on their personal device and send feedback. Our free QTake Monitor is the only app that provides live stream monitoring and independent playback in a single user interface, with access to complete metadata for every clip.

In addition to our own Cloud, we also offer deep integration with Moxion, a popular dailies system for web-based playback and collaboration.

A still from ‘WW84’

A still from ‘WW84’  

How expensive is QTake?

There are multiple configurations of QTake, targeting different budgets. The cost can reach $50k (approximately ₹36,82,600) if you are shooting with eight cameras and you require heavy real-time VFX. But it can be as low as $2k (approximately ₹1,47,200) if you just need a single camera recording/playback on iPad and streaming to multiple remote users. This indie-style configuration is based on our unique ScreenPort SDI device (screenport.io), which allows you to record the SDI output of the camera using an iPhone or iPad and stream it using the same protocol as if you were using a full QTake rig.

Films shot recently using QTake?

Probably one of the most exciting recent ventures for us is the Avatar sequel. A few years ago, when this monumental project started, we created a special version of QTake, which could capture, colour-correct and playback stereoscopic 4K in 48fps. The same production is also utilising QTake Server, which provides synchronisation of multiple units, to make every shot available on each unit for quick reference or comparison.

I would go so far as to say most blockbusters this year and over the past few years have been shot using QTake, because it has become an industry standard long before the pandemic. A few names: Joker, Ford v Ferrari, WW84, Parasite, 1917, The King’s Man, Mulan, Top Gun: Maverick and Black Widow.


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 2:33:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/qtake-the-software-system-behind-avatar-2/article33307202.ece

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