Millions of people saw the multi-Academy Award winning film, The King's Speech.
What few people will know is that this box office hit was made possible, at least in part, by a groundbreaking research and development project funded by the European Commission.
© Fotolia, 2012
Thanks to carefully targeted European funding,
a small UK start-up company was able to
team up with a leading Spanish university
to revolutionise the world of cinema postproduction.
Post-production includes all of the film-making
work that takes place after the end of the actual shooting of the film - including key
tasks such as editing, adding sepcial effects
and transferring the original motion picture to
video or digital format.
As a result of the project, known as SPEED-FX,
UK company FilmLight was able to develop a
radically more efficient, more flexible - and
cheaper - system for cinema post-production
than anything previously available. The impact
was to bring post-production within the
reach and the budget of far more users than
ever before, and to propel FilmLight from a
standing start to recognised industry leadership.
Previous post-production systems required
users to buy expensive proprietary hardware
suites. Each time a user needed to upgrade,
an entirely new system had to be bought.
Working in close cooperation with Universitat
Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, the unique
contribution of FilmLight was to create a system
which bypassed this need for specialised
By creating purpose-built software programmes, FilmLight made it possible to link
ordinary personal computers into a single
system, thereby creating a kind of "supercomputer"
to replace the old-style hardware
Founded by a small group of former employees
from a large cinema production company, Film-
Light was aided by experts at UPF who provided
the technical research and development input
to provide the new applications required, and
who ensured that the new open architecture
system would be reliable.
As well as using standard PCs, the new product,
Baselight, incorporates industry-standard
technologies for other key parts of the system
such as computer memory, storage devices,
graphics cards and networking capabilities.
With the whole system running on Linux, an
open-source operating system, the package
can be easily upgraded as necessary.
This flexibility also means the system is
unlikely to become obsolete, in the way that
a purely hardware-based solution would do.
As a small start-up, FilmLight's founders
had the vision and commitment, but like all
stat-ups they needed an equivalent financial
Thanks to the € 3.5 million SPEED-FX project,
of which € 2.1 million was provided by the
EU, FilmLight was able to out-compete more
established players and establish itself as a
clear market leader, quickly achieving sales
that dwarfed the initial project cost.
From this initial breakthrough, FilmLight went
on to win a highly prestigious UK
accolade - the 2006 Queen's Award
for Enterprise in International Trade.
In 2010 it scooped the Scientific and Engineering Academy
The King's Speech may have
been about King George VI's
battle to overcome a crippling
stutter. But there has been
nothing at all stuttery about
FilmLight's dramatic rise to international
success as a result
of the vision of the SPEED-FX