Motion Picture Academy to honor Arrilaser film recorder

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will honor the Arrilaser film recorder with an Academy Award of Merit during a ceremony on Feb. 11 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Oscar will be presented to Franz Kraus, Johannes Steurer and Wolfgang Riedel for the design and development of the Arrilaser, which “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.”

The initial concept of the Arrilaser was inspired by the development of a large-scale laser printer at the Fraunhofer Institute IPM in Freiburg. Project manager Wolfgang Riedel suggested utilizing the experience and technology gained in this previous project for the film industry, which led to a very successful partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute IPM in Freiburg and Arnold & Richter Cine Technik, in Munich.

This partnership allowed Kraus, Steurer and Riedel to come up with product specifications for a laser-based, high dynamic range, high-resolution film recorder. After just two years of development, the first prototypes were delivered to Digital Domain and Computer Film Company for beta testing in 1998. Today, the Arrilaser is the industry standard with over 280 units in use around the globe.

“The concept was to have technology which would satisfy Hollywood-quality demands but would be efficient and competitive to accommodate lower budget films,” said Kraus, Arri’s Managing Director.

The Arrilaser made it possible to record complete feature films at a moderate price with quick recording speed so the industry could turn from shot-based visual effects production to digital production for the complete features. This enabled the digital intermediate process on a large scale.

This early foray into digital technology later paved the way for more innovation. “We are very pleased that we receive the Oscar in particular for this product because it is the first digital system ARRI ever built,” said Kraus. “The Arrilaser was really the foundation to further digital projects: the Arriscan and the Arriflex D-20. 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.”

Portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation will be included in the televised Oscar ceremony on Feb. 26.