On Saturday, February 11th, Franz Kraus, Johannes Steurer, and Wolfgang Riedel were presented with the Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette) for the design and development of the Arrilaser during the Scientific and Technical Awards, hosted by actress Milla Jovovich. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) noted that the 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.”
Franz Kraus, Managing Director and member of the Executive Board at ARRI, studied electrical engineering and has been with the company for 28 years. Johannes Steurer is ARRI’s Principal Engineer and Arrilaser Project Manager; he has a doctorate in electrical and information engineering, and has been with ARRI for 17 years. Wolfgang Riedel, Project Manager Fraunhofer IPM, studied physics. He worked on laser spectroscopy and other complex optical systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Measurement Techniques for 29 years before retiring in 2009.
Upon accepting the award, Kraus said, “We are particularly pleased to receive the Oscar for this product because it is the first digital system ARRI ever built. The Arrilaser has been a success in itself, but it was really the foundation for further digital projects: the ARRISCAN and 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.”
Riedel pointed out that timing was key to the Arrilaser penetrating the postproduction world. “It was a development at just the right point. It couldn’t have been any earlier and yet it was early enough to have influence on the industry.”
Steurer recalled an early presentation of the Arrilaser that took place in a hotel suite with a makeshift film lab during the National Association of Broadcasters conference. “This performance was simple and convincing,” he said. “The Arrilaser quickly became the buzzword on the show floor and we realized we were on the right path – we were doing something important. It turned out that the Arriaser was the right product at the right time and the right price, hitting a nerve in our industry and enabling worldwide film production to move into digital.”
The initial concept of the Arrilaser was inspired by the development of a large-scale laser printer at the Fraunhofer Institute IPM in Freiburg. Riedel suggested utilizing the experience gained on this previous project for the film industry, which led to a successful partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute IPM in Freiburg and ARRI in Munich. Together, Kraus, Steurer, and Riedel came 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 Arrilaser was previously awarded an Academy Plaque; this latest Sci-Tech honor is the 17th award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for ARRI products over the years. ARRI is also proud that at the same ceremony, on February 11th, Carl Zeiss design engineer Uwe Weber and his late colleague Dr. Jürgen Noffke were honored with a Scientific and Engineering Award (Academy Plaque) for the mechanical and optical design of the Master Prime lenses, a joint development by Carl Zeiss and ARRI.
Tune in for the televised Oscar ceremony on February 26th to view portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards presentation.