The Winner is Behind the Camera | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 15.01.2002
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The Winner is Behind the Camera

When the Academy Awards are handed out, a little-known camera and lens company in Munich will be one of the recipients.


The making of a great movie requires more than just a star-studded cast.

The Academy Awards recognizes more than just the films and celebrities, the big names and bucks of the motion picture industry. It celebrates all the outstanding contributions that go into creating high quality entertainment. And that includes what occurs behind the scenes, or behind the camera, as is the case for the Munich-based Company Arnold & Richter Cinetechnik.

The company, nicknamed Arri, will be awarded an Oscar for Scientific and Technical Achievements in the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Their contribution: the development of a new laser device used in digital film imaging.

The patented 'Arrilaser' is the first compact 35 mm film laser imager of its kind. It has three solid state lasers as a light source and achieves a superior image quality through the extended range of contrasts, color saturation and extremely high resolutions. The system is designed for high output combined with very low energy consumption.

According to its creators, Wolfgang Riedel from the Fraunhofer Institut, Franz Kraus and Johannes Steurer, the Arrilaser sets new standards in digital imaging.

The Academy of Motion Pictures says: "The Arrilaser 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 ."

Revolutionizing film

After just two years on the market, the Arrilaser has received critical approval and is being used internationally in some of the biggest film and production studios.

Unlike conventional digital imaging devices, which fall far below the quality of picture obtained with conventional 35 mm cameras, the Arrilaser produces real quality images, making it difficult to tell the difference in production techniques.

Digital Domain, a California-based special effects studio whose work was integrated in "Titanic" and "The Fifth Element", installed an Arrilaser in 1998. They have been impressed with its performance ever since: "To deliver a real product at this level of technology to a facility and to be able to shoot images in under 90 minutes is unprecedented in the industry."

As a testimony to the its popularity, this year’s biggest box office hits, "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" were produced with the help of the Arrilaser.

The Fraunhofer Institute for applied science which financed the laser’s development is certain that Arrilaser is the way of the future.

"Tomorrow’s cinema will undoubtedly be produced digitally. From the first cuts of the scene to showing the finished movie, there will no longer be any strips," a Fraunhofer spokesman said.

Scientific and Technical Achievements

This year’s Oscar is the tenth such for the German company, which was founded outside Munich in 1917. Today the company is one of the world’s leaders in the development and production of film cameras and digital laser imaging.

In 1999 Arnold & Richter Cinetechnik was recognized for the engineering of the Arri 435 Camera System, which, according to the Academy of Motion Pictures, "enhances the creative process via its programmability and reliability, and provides the camera operator with the widest feature and performance capability of any MOS camera in use today."

This year’s award will be handed out at a ceremony on March 2nd in Hollywood. Twenty other individuals and companies will also be recognized for their discoveries or inventions contributing to the advancement of motion pictures.

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