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Technical Oscar for ARRI and Fraunhofer

The Munich-based producer of professional motion picture equipment ARRI and the Freiburg Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques have been awarded the “Academy Award of Merit” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their jointly developed ARRILASER film recorder. The Oscar statuettes will be presented on February 11 in Beverly Hills.

Each year, the “Academy Award of Merit” honors personalities who are responsible for a technical achievement which “has demonstrably contributed to improving filmmaking processes in a significant way”.

Franz Kraus and Johannes Steurer from ARRI and Wolfgang Riedel from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques have each been awarded an Oscar for the design and development of the ARRILASER. The Jury of the Academy declared that this laser film recorder “demonstrates a high level of engineering resulting in a compact, user-friendly, low-maintenance device, while at the same time maintaining outstanding speed, exposure ratings and image quality”. Extracts from the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation should also be included in the broadcast of the Oscar Ceremony on February 26.

The basic concept of the ARRILASER was developed by a research team led by Wolfgang Riedel, who had already developed a successful large format recorder for the photography industry as project manager at Fraunhofer IPM. Riedel’s idea to use the acquired know-how for the motion picture industry led to an extremely successful partnership with ARRI. The experience in imaging technology together with the specialist knowledge as regards the motion picture industry’s needs allowed the Kraus, Steurer and Riedel team to define the requirements made of a laser-based, high-quality, high-resolution film recorder. In 1998, after only two years of development, the first prototypes of such laser film recorders were delivered to the Digital Domain und Computer Film Company for testing. Today, ARRILASER is an industry standard. More than 280 devices are in use worldwide for the recording of digital film data onto film.

“The idea was to provide technology which met Hollywood requirements as regards quality, but which at the same time was also efficient enough to be competitive for small-budget movies,” explains ARRI CEO, Franz Kraus. ARRI Product Development Manager Johannes Steurer adds, “The ARRILASER made it possible to offer all features at a reasonable price – even for extremely short recording times. The motion picture industry was thus able to move from recording-based effects to complete digital production. The ARRILASER therefore allowed for digital movie editing on a large scale for the first time.” “From a scientific point of view, the development of the ARRILASER was also an overwhelming success,” remarks Wolfgang Riedel of Fraunhofer IPM. “There were many technological challenges which could only be met because scientists from extremely varying organizations were consulted. Several significant advancements in the specialist areas can be attributed to this joint project.”

Fraunhofer IPM used the knowledge acquired from developing the ARRILASER for further innovation: the ARCHE laser film recorder is, for the first time, able to print digital image data, e.g. historical documents, accurately and colorfast onto film which is stable in the long term. The color microfilm recorder has been used for many years by the Institute for the Preservation of Archival and Library Material at the “Landesarchiv” (State Archive) of Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg.

Holger Kock | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
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