Nov. 14, 2018

ARRI behind the scenes of “Perfume”

Netflix and ZDFneo are now airing the high-end crime series “Perfume.” This Constantin Film production was shot with equipment from ARRI Rental and co- and post-produced by ARRI Media. A look behind the scenes.

Nov. 14, 2018

“Perfume” is based on an idea from Oliver Berben inspired by Patrick Suesskind's world-famous novel “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.” It plays in the year 2018 in a small town on the Lower Rhine, which is shaken by a series of brutal homicides. The criminal investigation takes us back into the past of five boarding-school pupils, who two decades ago experimented around with the secret of human scent in their search for power and love.

Established players from the film industry joined forces to realize the six-episode series “Perfume”: It is a production of Constantin Film and MOOVIE in co-production with ARRI Media and ZDFneo/ZDF and in collaboration with Netflix, and it received funding from the German Motion Picture Fund, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW (North-Rhine Westphalia film and media foundation), the FFF Bayern film fund, and the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. Among the cast are well-known actors the likes of Wotan Wilke Moehring, August Diehl, and Natalia Belitski. Emmy winner Philipp Kadelbach directed and Eva Kranenburg wrote the screenplays.


“The project was only made possible by working together with ARRI. ARRI immediately understood what a showcase the series could become for what is possible in this day and age,” enthuses Oliver Berben, Executive Producer at Constantin Film. He didn't have to do much convincing: “We loved the idea from the minute Oliver Berben inquired whether we would like to be a part of it as a co-producer,” recalls Josef Reidinger, Managing Director at ARRI Media.

Most in-demand was ARRI"s state-of-the-art film technology, confirms producer Sarah Kirkegaard: “As soon as we knew the quality we wanted and had to approach this project with, it was clear that we wanted to work with ARRI.” Then “Perfume” was shot with camera, lighting, and stage equipment from ARRI Rental, for example with the exclusive high-end digital camera system ARRI ALEXA 65, the analog ARRIFLEX 416 Plus, Prime-DNA lenses, and SkyPanel and M-Series spotlights. ARRI Media was in charge of the image and sound post-production and the visual effects.

Because of the two timelines – 2018 and flashbacks to the 1990s – the “Perfume” team used two different camera systems. “On the one hand the newest and most leading-edge format there is: the ARRI ALEXA 65. And we contrast this digital, incredibly sharp and imposing picture with the grainy shots of an analog ARRIFLEX on 16-mm film,” visual designer Jakub Bejnarowicz explains. “The idea was to represent the journey through time by means of the greatest possible difference in the feel of the images. Juxtaposing the two provides a fantastic contrast.”

To achieve that effect, the cameraman worked with lenses from the Prime DNA series, exclusively obtainable from ARRI Rental: “These lenses managed to create a very organic, even soft look, despite the camera's incredible definition. The bokeh is great, the sharpness fall-off fantastic.”

Shooting took five months. After every day on set, the cameraman disappeared into the dailies van from ARRI Media that was parked on location. “There I could do some color grading for our dailies, check the material, and gain an impression of what it might look like later. There are great people working there. We had a fun time every evening, experimenting with colors,” recounts Jakub Bejnarowicz.

Cevat Maskar was in the team as a colorist. “The bus isn't designed to be purely a technical equipment room, but also as a screening room. It has a 55-inch monitor, a comfortable chair, and a fridge. You're supposed to enjoy sitting there.”

The post-production then took place at ARRI Media in Munich. “Now, in the second phase of the grading, we are polishing up on the final look, and we have entirely new options at our disposal because we of course already have every camera angle cut in the right order,” Jakub Bejnarowicz explains. And he had the “huge privilege of spending an entire month together with Traudl Nicholson (Lead Colorist) – a color-grading icon – at ARRI in Tuerkenstrasse,” he continues.

At the end of it all, everyone involved is overjoyed at the result. According to Christine Rothe, Managing Director at Constantin Film Produktion, the series reflects “the highest standard possible today.” She is in no doubt at all that “it is a really high-end product.”

While the first two episodes of “Perfume” could be viewed at the Filmfest Munich, the first screening on German TV will be on ZDFneo starting on 14 November 2018. At the same time, Netflix will be streaming the series worldwide outside the German-speaking territories, and Netflix also secured itself the secondary exploitation rights for the German-speaking countries.

Photos: Constantin Film (1), ARRI (7)