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Digital Domain tests new laser recorder

Industry to eye advanced ARRI device

Visual f/x studio Digital Domain has been chosen as the beta test site for a new laser film recorder from leading German motion picture camera company ARRI, which promises to become the standard used by visual f/x and post-production studios around the world.

The new Arrilaser, used to record digital film images back onto film, is the first film recorder to incorporate solid-state laser technology with a self-calibrating optical system. Digital Domain, which has the engineering prototype, is the first facility in the world to test it.

According to Christopher Holsey, Digital Domain’s scanning and recording supervisor, the Arrilaser is a “revolution” in film recording and incorporates “all sorts of really clever innovations.”

High speed

It records two to three-times faster than the current standard laser recorders, such as the system from Kodak and Autologic’s Lux, translating into a cheaper per frame operating cost.

At around $375,000, the Arrilaser is also less expensive to buy than former systems, which go for approximately $600,000. And the solid state laser technology offers very long-term stability for laser power and alignment, according to Holsey.

“Nothing on the market even comes close to this,” said Holsey. “An awful lot of people are just waiting to get their hands on this thing.”

Test period

Digital Domain, which won an Oscar for “Titanic,” will test the Arriflex for the next six months. The company plans to purchase a production model in February.

Two Arrilaser prototypes have been in operation at ARRI’s digital film facility for four months, recording test material and production finals. Among these are shots for Roland Emmerich’s next feature “The 13th Floor.”