CEO / Professor
– Do you have concrete ideas for upcoming products and new technologies?
Franz: We are studying and researching not only augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), but also 360-degree capture and computational imaging. At ARRI, we have a post production unit where we offer virtual reality productions. Naturally we need to keep the business side of things in mind, but in terms of technological developments, we can discover which aspects of the process are of interest to ARRI.
– The ALEXA series of cameras are extremely popular in the motion picture world, but by contrast it can be argued that now is the time for 4K. What does ARRI make of this demand in the market?
Franz: When we started designing the ALEXA, we already had experience designing 4K and 6K units. We knew that resolution as well as dynamic range and frame rate would all be important, so we always considered those 3 parameters together. As long as it was necessary to maintain 24 frames, it would not be enough just to increase the resolution to create incredibly fine detail. Because objects are moving, cameras are moving, and images are blurred and shaky, the beauty of fine details are not there when you have motion pictures. However, we concentrated on dynamic range and HDR. That’s why the ALEXA has been successful. Many people could trust that the ALEXA would deliver a rich dynamic range over high resolution. However, it is clear that high resolution is necessary, even though there are no commercial feature-length movies being shot with at a high frame rate yet. We are working that provision as well.
When you’re dealing with high resolution, the data rate becomes an issue. When you move from 2K to 4K, you need quadruple the data rate, and then when you introduce HDR, you will need to increase the data rate by 20%. If you already have a high frame rate, the need for greater data rate increases proportionally. If you want an efficient work package with a high resolution and a high frame rate, then you need to increase the compression. However, increased compression results in greater noise. If you want to retain the beauty that comes with a high frame rate, then you have no choice but to accept the noise. We have created the ALEXA 65 in response to this demand. It is the perfect camera for someone seeking images that have a rich dynamic range, is expansive and beautiful, and is a 6K-class camera.
– What do you feel has made ARRI the industry leader in the fields of cameras and lighting?
Franz: We value applicability, and we relied on our creative users. We provide the products and adapt them to accommodate the needs of the industry. Being close to the industry means that the products we are designing – and this doesn’t only go for cameras, but it also includes developing stabilizing systems and for lighting, too – will meet the requirements. In other words, it’s not engineering products looking for applications; it’s applications looking for the right technology. When you look back on ARRI’s history, and we have good reason to because we are celebrating 100 years in the business. Most of our products were not made for the movies: they are products that were engineered to be used for motion pictures. For example, the Reflex System for our lenses is not something that ARRI invented. It was engineered by ARRI to bring it into this industry in a compact form. And in ’72, our lighting engineers imported new technology and started working on HMI. However, it was not easy. At first, the lighting system was poor in rendering colors. So we brought in technology from different areas and adapted them for use in our industry.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Kenichi TAKAHASHI, Seiji TANAKA