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ARRILASER



Responding to an earlier request on the TIG, I am cross posting a message I
posted also on CML.


I am on the plane back to Chicago, having just spent my last week in LA at
the official introduction of the ARRILASER. Here is the run down on the
machine. Forgive me if I ramble, I am a bit tired. Feel free to email
(msmueller at arri.com) or call me (773 252 8003) if you need more info. Spec
sheets can be found on the web at

http://www.arri.com/product/digisys/index.htm


The ARRILASER is a laser film recorder that "writes" digital image data
onto 35 mm 5244 intermediate film. 5244 is a film stock that was developed
by Kodak as part of their Cineoon effort. It is virtually grain free (ASA
of 4), and can be used to record an IN as well as an IP.

The ARRILASER is a turnkey system consisting of a Windows NT host computer
and the recorder. The host computer connects to a customers facility via a
network (100BASET [=Fast Ethernet] is fast enough for 2K images, faster
networks [Fibre Channel, Serial HIPPI or Gigabit Ethernet] will be needed
for 4K images). It does some processing on the received images (color space
conversion, up-ressing, sharpening), and then transfers the image line by
line over to the recorder.

The recorder uses the image data to modulate three laser beams (R, G & B),
combines the three beams into one "white" beam and then scans the beam onto
film using a spinning prism. The scanner draws a line north/south, and the
film movement moves the 35 mm film across this line west/east. The film
movement is fun, as it is the opposite from a motion picture film camera in
that it exposes while the film is being transported, and is dark while the
film is stationary. Thus the pulldown claw is stationary and the
registration pins move with the film. Come by the ARRI booth during NAB or
Showbiz and I can show you this.

What is special about the ARRILASER? It is basically the first second
generation laser film recorder, distinguishing itself from the competition
through its speed and robustness. This is achieved through the use of solid
state lasers (the competition uses gas lasers) and a clever auto
calibration system. The MTBF of the solid state lasers is rated in tens of
thousands of hours (vs. the thousands of hours of the gas lasers), they
draw very little power (single digit watts, again versus kilowatts for gas
lasers), and generate virtually no heat. From the word get go the ARRILASER
was designed to need substantially less maintenance than the currently used
laser film recorders.

The ARRILASER is fast. 5.2 seconds for a 4K image, and, available as an
upgrade, 3.3 seconds for true 2K output. Without the upgrade, if you feed
it 2K it will up-res on the fly (using bi-cubic interpolation, for those
who care) and record 4K onto film.

Given that it is at least twice as fast and about half the purchase price
of the competition, we see the price per frame for laser film recording
drop dramatically in the next years. This will change the film recording
business, as many projects that were previously cost prohibitive are now
possible. Special Effects facilities, comprising the first wave of
customers, will be able to afford in-house recorders. Labs will offer laser
film recording as a service. The studios will be able to increase the speed
of their massive restauration efforts.

As an interesting side note, one studio executive who saw the ARRILASER
noted that each broadcaster whom he supplied programming to is now
requesting the material in a different DTV format, and he feels that
creating a 35 mm master, even for shows originating on tape, might be
necessary. Thanks to the confusion created by DTV, 35 mm film takes on a
more and more important role as the only true universal, high resolution
standard for image material.

Digital Domain has been beta testing the ARRILASER since early December,
and their Scanning and Recording Supervisor Chris Holsey has stated that
the ARRILASER image quality is as good if not better than any other film
recorder he has tested. We will install a second beta test unit at a
facility in London soon, and ship the first production units towards the
middle of this year.

Uups, we are landing ("bring your table to an upright position and,...").
So long.

Cheers,

Marc Shipman-Mueller, Camera & Digital Systems Technical Representative
Arriflex Corporation; 1646 N. Oakley Ave, Suite #2, Chicago, IL 60647-5319, USA
Tel: 773 252 8003, Fax: 773 252 5210
Email: msmueller at arri.com, Web: http://www.arri.com



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