The Quantel Paintbox is a dedicated computer graphics workstation for composition of broadcast television video and graphics. Produced by the now-defunct British production equipment manufacturer Quantel, its design emphasized the studio workflow efficiency required for live news production. At a price of about $150,000 per unit (equivalent to $362,000 in 2018), they were used primarily by large TV networks such as NBC, while in the UK, Peter Claridge's company CAL Videographics was the first commercial company to purchase one. Following its initial launch in 1981, the Paintbox revolutionised the production of television graphics.
Artist Tony Redhead worked with Quantel's development team to develop the artist-oriented functionality and user interface, which remained virtually unchanged throughout the life of the product. The first generation Paintbox was principally custom-designed hardware, while the second generation V-Series introduced in 1989 was able to take advantage of general purpose computer hardware combined with custom hardware elements. In 2002, the generationQ series of products introduced the last stand-alone Paintbox and the QPaintbox software for PCs. Eventually, Paintbox became a feature of Quantel's other, more powerful editing, media management and post-production products.
In the late 1980s Quantel embarked on lawsuits against the Adobe "Photoshop" software package and the Spaceward Graphics "Matisse" system in an attempt to protect patented aspects of the Paintbox system. They won the initial case against Spaceward in 1990, but finally lost the case against Adobe in 1997 following depositions and demonstrations by a number of Computer Graphics pioneers including Alvy Ray Smith and Dick Phillips. Richard Shoup ported his 1973 paint program Superpaint to Windows for demonstration purposes, and was able to demonstrate that Superpaint had particular features before Quantel's Paintbox. Shoup's port is available for download from his personal website.
The cover for The Miracle, rock band Queen's studio album, was created on a Quantel Paintbox in 1989. It was used by six artists and designers, including David Hockney and Richard Hamilton, to create original artwork in the 1986 BBC series Painting with Light. Quantel also placed a number of Paintbox IV series systems in art schools in the UK, including Blackpool College where it was used extensively by artist Adrian Wilson to create digital images, including the James album cover for Gold Mother. Two of Wilson's Paintbox pieces were included in the pioneering Art & Computers exhibition at the Cleveland Art Gallery, England, September 1988. One recipient, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art had recently appointed the video artist Stephen Partridge as a lecturer who then established (1984) The Television Workshop to support artists and filmmakers' production and access to high-level broadcast technology. Over 400 productions were supported in this way from 1984 to 1992 until desktop video pre-empted the need. Artists and filmmakers using the workshop included Jeff Keen, Robert Cahen, Tamara Krikorian, Pictorial Heroes, Judith Goddard and many others. The music video for Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" was created on a Bosch FGS-4000 3D animation system using a Quantel Paintbox for backgrounds and textures.
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