Arrilaser to be honored at Academy Sci-Tech Awards

Posted By Daniel Restuccio on February 09, 2012 03:26 pm | Permalink
By Daniel Restuccio

This Saturday at the Sci-Tech Oscars, the Academy Award of Merit (an Oscar statuette) is being awarded to Franz Kraus, Johannes Steurer and Wolfgang Riedel (pictured below) for the design and development of the Arrilaser film recorder a pioneering device that renders digital images to motion picture film.

The basic development for the Arrilaser goes back to 1997 and came out of a collaborative partnership with Fraunhofer IPM. Its distinguishing technology includes the use of red, green and blue solid-state lasers; an innovative deflection system, which includes a mirror that rotates at 120,000 rpms, a nanometer precise linear motor film transport system and pixel accurate acousto-optical modulators. The solid-state lasers allow exposure times of one second per frame, low noise and precise control of contrast and color fidelity. Currently there are over 280 Arrilasers in use around the globe.

E-film Hollywood which has eight Arrilasers used them to make film prints of four of this year's best picture nominees including: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Tree of Life, The Help and War Horse.

The Sci-Tech committee noted that, "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."

Initially the device was used to print to film only a few digital scenes such as the VFX shots in Jurassic Park. Today the majority of movies are entirely digital and printed to film via digital intermediate masters. Ironically, the technology behind the Arrilaser paved the way to digital cinema and in one sense made itself obsolete in the process it initiated. However as distribution on film will ultimately decline now the Arrilaser is now being used to preserve digital images on to the more stable film medium.

"We are very pleased that we receive the Oscar in particular for this product because it is the first digital system Arri ever built," says Kraus. "The Arrilaser has been a success in itself, but it was really the foundation to further digital projects: the Arriscan and the Arriflex D-21. Without those products there would not have been the in-house engineering competence and the customer confidence for the successful design and marketing of the Alexa camera."