DSC Labs: The Story
In the 1960’s DSC was the leading Canadian TV commercial production house. Shooting in 35mm David, a perfectionist, commented to Rodger J. Ross of the CBC that he was not happy with the way DSC films reproduced on TV. Engineers said the problem was that the available telecine alignment slides were not accurate. He was told in so many words, “if you are so damn smart, why not make us some”.
Working with CBC Engineering Headquarters in Montreal, DSC designed a colorbar grayscale test pattern. To achieve the accuracy we wanted (10 times tighter than industry standards) DSC had to design/build or re-engineer densitometers, printers and processing equipment. Two years later DSC produced its first practical test patterns and their colorimetry work became the Canadian Standard. The specialized equipment DSC developed to make the test patterns also enabled DSC to make landmark advances in the AV industry.
The hardware they developed and patented included CAMI, a $750,000.00 Computer Aided Multi Imager. CAMI was an aerial imaging, additive optical printer with an unprecedented gamut of 540,000,000 colors. CAMI’s unique optical path enabled slide duplicates to be printed with the emulsion the same way round as originals. This technology eliminated the need for auto-focusing projectors, which along with another DSC development, Soft-Edged Masking, enabled the rapid development of Multi-Image as it came to be known.
DSC became “the Lab” for “better than original” slide duplicates, filmstrip transfers, film processing and other precision lab services – clients even flew in from Europe with important jobs on the Concord. DSC Fuzzies, soft-edged-masks, became the world standard as did the TC-2 projector alignment grid. These products were sold through DSC distributors and dealers from Helsinki to Auckland.
During the 1980’s, while AV provided the “Bread & Butter”, broadcast test patterns stretched the company’s technical capabilities with projects such as the BBCs Test Card 60 (TC-60). DSC made this milestone sine wave resolution test pattern for the BBC and ITVA. In 1990, DSC moved into its present custom-built, 15000′ environmentally-friendly ground source heated/cooled facility. Anticipating the explosive growth of video, DSC introduced the rear-lit Ambi/Combi System and, later that decade, CamAlign front-lit Test Charts. Responding to strong market demand, the company continues to develop premium test charts, expanding its existing product lines for HD production.
CamAligns were an important development in the production of optimum image quality in HD TV and Digital Cinema. Over the past 10 years, ChromaDuMonde, “The impossible test chart”, has become the Hollywood “standard” used in digital cinema and HD/SD television production. DSC test charts are now in widespread use on every continent, in space exploration and in the world’s oceans.