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ARRI’s OCU-1 “closes an essential gap” on “Hannes”

During the shooting of Rita Falk’s novel adaptation “Hannes,” ARRI’s Operator Control Unit OCU-1 made its film debut. DP Christian Marohl and camera assistants Sascha El Gendi and Julius Aeneas Thamer report on their experiences.

On September 5, 2019, Studiocanal will release the film version of Rita Falk’s bestselling novel of the same name, “Hannes,” in cinemas. The final take of this touching story about friendship, farewell, and joie de vivre took place at the end of 2018. Director Hans Steinbichler and his team—including DP Christian Marohl and camera assistants Sascha El Gendi and Julius Aeneas Thamer—shot the film in Bavaria (Germany), South Tyrol (Italy), and Scotland. The camera setup, provided by ARRI Rental, consisted of ALEXA Minis with a WCU-4 hand unit and ARRI cforce motors as well as Angénieux Optimo Zoom 24 – 290 mm and Cooke S4 lenses. ARRI’s new Operator Control Unit OCU-1 was also used marking its first time ever on a film set.

Introduced at IBC 2018, this device complements the WCU-4 lens control system, allowing camera operators to take control of focus, iris, and zoom at the touch of a button, and to re-release it whenever practical or creative reasons dictate. The OCU-1 is attached to standard 15 mm or 19 mm rods, 3/8” threads or—as with “Hannes”—to the ARRI rosette.

“I would definitely request the device again. I don’t want to go without it anymore,” Christian Marohl sums up at the end of the shooting. He used the OCU-1 mainly during the set-up times to change focus, to set different accents in the image design, and to try them out: “The wireless hand unit is usually a little further away. Using the OCU-1, I can adjust the focus myself and don’t always have to call the camera assistant. This is practical and saves a lot of time.” The OCU-1 is “small, light, and easy to handle without disturbing the camera.” “And the great thing about it is the interaction, so that the camera assistant can take control again,” emphasizes Christian Marohl. The operation is also “super simple—only three buttons. We set one user button for the focus, the middle for the override function, and the other for the aperture.”

To be on the safe side at the beginning, the buttons were labeled—as they are usually done with the user buttons on the camera. “After all, it was a new tool, and the DP has to have many different things in view at the same time when shooting,” explains Sascha El Gendi. The first camera assistant introduced the OCU-1 on the third day of shooting. “Since then it has been used almost daily,” adds Julius Aeneas Thamer, second camera assistant on “Hannes.” And he enthuses: “You’re standing at the camera or at the wireless hand unit and don’t have to walk back and forth between the devices in new situations. You can simply do something else at the same time. That’s the main point for me why this unit is so effective.” That’s why Julius Aeneas Thamer is sure: “The OCU-1 completes the workflow. It is a tool that saves a lot of time and closes an essential gap.”

“Hannes” is a production by Lailaps Pictures in coproduction with Studiocanal and ARD Degeto and was supported by FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Filmfoerderungsanstalt, Bayerischer Bankenfonds, and Deutscher Filmfoerderfond. Studiocanal is responsible for world sales.

Photos: Sascha El Gendi (1), ARRI (4). The opening image shows DP Christian Marohl.