Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics


Polar TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
Download PDF
Download PDF

If you don’t recognise the name Peter Rowsell instantly you no doubt would recognise him in person, from the famous ‘Pink Coconut’ parties during IBC (Brighton) in the 80s or the name ‘Polar Video or Polar Graphics’ both companies which he’s built up over the years.

Entering his 43rd NAB (yes 43rd, that is NOT a typo!) who better to catch up with to give us some insight into the past and future of Polar, NAB and the industry in general. I caught up with him at the newly rebuilt offices of Polar Headquarters in Pinner, Middlesex.

How did you start in the industry?
I was working for the Bank of New South Wales in London, I’d been there 5yrs and was fed up with the boring routine of international banking. My brother-in-law asked me to join him in a company called Éclair Debrie, in 1975. I was interested in cameras and the job was to sell 16 and 35mm film cameras. I won’t bore you with the long history of my days since then. In brief, I later joined Rank Film Equipment selling Film / TV lighting and assisting with Ariflex sales. Later I joined Keyline Productions who were the European distributors for Convergence Corporation (they designed the first joystick editor before non-linear).

In 1979 I set up my own company ‘Polar Video’ (with Fred Smith). Polar Video closed its doors in 1990 and Fred and I went our own ways. 4yrs later I set up Polar Graphics, in a nut shell that’s it.

How have you seen the industry change and what do you think have been the biggest changes
in the industry?
There have been huge changes since I started. People coming into the industry accept everything for what it is. You pick up a computer with a software programme and start working. Many don’t know about gen lock, chroma phase or anything like that because it’s sorted out within the computer.

The Film industry taught me about professional camera lenses, what to look out for, how to light sets and deal generally with problems on set. If you can resolve the initial problems on the shoot the work in post is made easier. I even worked as an assistant camera man for a while in 1970 on the original ‘Bouquet of Barbed Wire’ TV production.

The move to Keyline Productions in the late 70’s was my first step into the Video business where electronic editing was just starting. At this time we were still using black and white monitors for preview and tape for recording. Most of the tape machines at that time (U-Matic) had no way of shuttling tape across the heads so we were pioneering in using servos to control and shuttle tape with an accuracy in the edit of plus or minus 4 frames. It was a great experimental time and I even had the opportunity to work on a very small bit of ‘The Shining’ where they experimented with Off Lining. The move later into proper computer technology for non-linear and graphics packages was a major step forward.

You used to manufacture your own products at Polar Video, is that correct?
Yes. We got somewhat fed up with our suppliers not producing the products we kept asking for so decided to design and build them ourselves. We built the first dual channel timebase corrector called ‘Roger’. A chromakey, a safearea generator, a vision mixer and many ancillary products and sold them all over the world. They were a very successful range of products.

How did you decide on the name Polar Graphics?
I think choosing a company name is very difficult. The original name Polar Video was chosen so we had a memorable logo in the form of a Polar Bear and when I set
up Polar Graphics it was really a follow on from there, as most people already knew the name.

Polar Graphics distributed a lot of computer packages like Boris Effects and Digieffects etc. so Polar Graphics seemed a good name at the time. Today though we are mainly hardware and storage orientated.

Can you tell me more about what Polar Graphics and its associate companies do?
Polar are known as an exclusive Distributor and/or Manufacturers Rep. In most cases we set up and maintain the European dealer channel for a small number of suppliers who are based in UK, USA, Taiwan and Australia. We generally work through resellers but with one or two of the products because of the intricate nature, we do deal direct with end users (especially in the Broadcast end of the market). Polar Graphics and my associated companies (Bluefish444 Europe and Dark Matter Technologies) are the distributors/representatives for Apantac, Bluefish444, Cinedeck, FocalPoint Server, Mediaproxy, Stardom, StorageDNA and StudioNetworkSolutions.

Where do you see the industry going & do you see any big changes going forward?
The buzz word today day is IP, with new products coming to market, everyday, incorporating IP technology, but the issue is about having a unified industry standard, so everything can be connected together.

The cloud is here, with many companies either using third party cloud providers, having their own ‘private cloud’ or using a hybrid cloud model. Our compliance monitoring product supplier already has customers monitoring within ‘cloud’ playout facilities.
Another new development from StorageDNA is the use of random access LTO/LTFS tape. With transfer rates (read & write) comparable to disk storage, tape becomes a cost effective viable alternative to disk storage for some workflows, e.g. DIT, conform, ingest/import etc.

As more and more data is being produced, the demand for SAN/NAS solutions is increasing and keeping track of this data is crucial. Hence the increased need for a simple Asset Management system, which can track the workflows, versioning etc., and that doesn’t ‘consume’ everybody’s day. Broadcasters in South Korea are already broadcasting in 4K and other countries will follow suit so the need for capture devices to handle high data rates, 4K60p and above, is vital.

Going forward we see the need for ‘open’ eco systems where solutions from different manufactures can be integrated to produce simplified workflows

What happened on the speed boat on Lake Mead?
Those were good old days but probably best left alone during this interview. We were young and reckless. Suffice to say that a group of us from the industry (including some veterans still around today and some who unfortunately are no longer with us) took a number speed boats out during NAB and had a smashing time.

I could talk to Peter for hours but must stop there. If you would like to catch up with Peter, he and some of the team of Polar Bears will be supporting their suppliers at NAB 2018 you can find them on any of these stands:
Apantac: SU3602 | Bluefish444: SL9021 | Cinedeck: SL10827 | FocalPoint Server: SL5124 | Mediaproxy: SU3124 | Stardom: SL15516 | StorageDNA: SL13609 | Studio Network Solutions: SL4607 & SL11513


Tags: iss130 | polar graphics | apantac | bluefish | cinedeck | focalpoint | mediaproxy | stardom | storagedna | Polar
Contributing Author Polar

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Download PDF
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Stardom product range - Polar Graphics at NAB 2016

    Stardom product range - Polar Graphics at NAB 2016

  • Apantac 4k UHD HDMI/DVI Multiviewer with KVM at IBC 2018

    Apantac 4k UHD HDMI/DVI Multiviewer with KVM at IBC 2018

  • Apantac TX# 64x16 Modular Multiviewer at IBC 2018

    Apantac TX# 64x16 Modular Multiviewer at IBC 2018

  • HDMI over IP and KVM over IP with the Apantac OG-Mi 9 series shown at IBC 2018

    HDMI over IP and KVM over IP with the Apantac OG-Mi 9 series shown at IBC 2018

  • 4K UHD Multi-viewer HDMI 2.0 from Apantac at NAB 2018

    4K UHD Multi-viewer HDMI 2.0 from Apantac at NAB 2018

  • Apantac Mi Multiviewer Platform at IBC 2017

    Apantac Mi Multiviewer Platform at IBC 2017

  • Apantac Multiviewer and KVM at IBC 2017

    Apantac Multiviewer and KVM at IBC 2017

  • Apantac T Sharp # Multi-Format Multiviewer at IBC 2017

    Apantac T Sharp # Multi-Format Multiviewer at IBC 2017

  • MX32 Multiviewer from Apantac at NAB 2017

    MX32 Multiviewer from Apantac at NAB 2017

  • Mi16 low cost Multiviewer from Apantac at NAB 2017

    Mi16 low cost Multiviewer from Apantac at NAB 2017

  • openGear Mi9 Multiviewer from Apantac at NAB 2017

    openGear Mi9 Multiviewer from Apantac at NAB 2017

  • Apantac UHD conversion technology at IBC 2016

    Apantac UHD conversion technology at IBC 2016

  • Apantac Mi-16 at IBC 2016

    Apantac Mi-16 at IBC 2016

  • Apantac T-Sharp at IBC 2016

    Apantac T-Sharp at IBC 2016

  • Apantac Multiviewer at NAB 2016

    Apantac Multiviewer at NAB 2016

  • Apantac monitoring over IP at NAB 2016

    Apantac monitoring over IP at NAB 2016

  • Apantac 4k live demo at NAB 2016

    Apantac 4k live demo at NAB 2016

  • APANTAC openGear Solutions at NAB 2015

    APANTAC openGear Solutions at NAB 2015

  • APANTAC T# Multiviewer at NAB 2015

    APANTAC T# Multiviewer at NAB 2015

  • APANTAC IP and SDI Multiviewer at NAB 2015

    APANTAC IP and SDI Multiviewer at NAB 2015

  • Bluefish444 KRONOS at IBC 2016

    Bluefish444 KRONOS at IBC 2016

  • AMD at IBC2011

    AMD at IBC2011

  • Facilis at NAB 2013

    Facilis at NAB 2013

  • Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2012

    Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2012

  • Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2011

    Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2011

  • Fibrenetix with StorageDNA at IBC 2014

    Fibrenetix with StorageDNA at IBC 2014


Related Shows
  • StorageDNA LIVE at BVE 2016

    StorageDNA LIVE at BVE 2016


Articles
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF
Protecting the continuity of transmission
Lorna Garrett Your viewers love you. You consistently bring them their preferred channels 24/7. They’ve come to rely on you for their viewing pleasure. They never miss cheering on their beloved sports teams. They’re the envy of their friends as they watch live concerts of their favourite bands. They gather the family around and catch up on their must-see shows. They don’t have a bad word to say about you.
Tags: iss134 | garland | gpl | streaming | artel | disaster recovery | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
An Epiphany Moment
Peter Savage 2 I had been negotiating the sale of my company and had reached the really hard end of the bargain. We were close to agreeing the final sum after a lot of too-much-give-and-not-enough-take negotiation. The solicitors were calling me, keen for a deal. It had come down to one sticking point and, in my hard ball “I am the Wolf of Wall Street” guise, I wasn’t going to let it go. It would make a value difference of 1.5% on the total outcome. Not much, you might think, but I had already nearly fallen out with the solicitors over their fees and I was giving my advisors an extremely hard time because the corporate adviser couldn’t see how I had already given more than an inch and the buyers were taking more than a mile. I was not going to let them win.
Tags: iss134 | azule | finance | Peter Savage 2
Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF
AI in Media and Entertainment
David Candler Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term appearing everywhere these days. What is happening in media and entertainment (M&E) that makes the industry ripe for AI? In other words, why does the M&E industry need AI?
Tags: iss134 | AI | wazee | David Candler
Contributing Author David Candler Click to read or download PDF
Keeping it remotely real
Reuben Such Everyone wants to do more with less. Always have, although it could be argued that doing more with more is something to aspire to, not many have that luxury. So let’s stick with the prevailing winds of doing more with less, and not just doing more, but doing it remotely, particularly in terms of production. Remote production, in particular, is getting a lot of attention in the field these days, but not so much in terms of the remote operation of fixed studios.
Tags: iss134 | remote control | IPE | IDS | Reuben Such
Contributing Author Reuben Such Click to read or download PDF