Jun. 19, 2017

Kraftwerk and ARRI go to the movies together

Kraftwerk chooses to use two ALEXA cameras from ARRI to shoot their concert film "3-D The Catalogue" and produce the cinema version at ARRI@Bavaria Film.

Jun. 19, 2017

Kraftwerk has been making music history for almost five decades now. These pioneers of electropop are acknowledged as the forefathers of several musical genres as well as a major influence for well-known musicians around the world. Ever since their formation in 1970 in Duesseldorf, Kraftwerk has always used cutting-edge technologies to create their works of performance art.

New, revamped versions of Kraftwerk classics were released at the end of May 2017, together bearing the name "3-D The Catalogue." One of the options for fans is a Blu-ray Disc of Kraftwerk's spectacular multimedia concerts held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, to name just a few of the tour venues filmed in high-resolution 3D and with state-of-the-art sound. The big challenge for the Blu-ray was finding a way to reproduce the enormous 3D wall on stage behind the band members Ralf Hütter, Fritz Hilpert, Henning Schmitz, and Falk Grieffenhagen, in 3D on the disc. Extremely light-sensitive cameras are needed to make that kind of video, and the polarization filters reduce the image brightness by half again, which means that the cameras have to meet the most demanding standards. The band members weren't about to rely on other people's recommendations when choosing the right system; they arranged for all the appropriate camera systems to be sent and they tried them all out for themselves. In the end, Kraftwerk, together with cameraman Sebastian Cramer, decided upon the ALEXA system because, as the band stated, it was the only camera that delivered enough brightness when faced with the difficult lighting conditions at the live concerts. Ultimately, the performances were filmed stereoscopically with two ALEXA cameras in a mirror rig fitted with polarization filters. 

The collaboration with ARRI Media comes about through personal contacts made in the course of mixing the 3D sound together with Tom Ammermann of New Audio Technology. "We recommended to Kraftwerk that they have a cinema version of `3-D The Catalogue` made. They loved the idea," recalls Daniel Vogl, site manager of ARRI@Bavaria Film and Head of the Sound Department at ARRI Media, the ARRI division responsible for post-production. And that was how the idea was born to hold exclusive cinema screenings in six German cities a few days before the release of "3-D The Catalogue." And rather than simply taking the Blu-ray material and projecting it onto the big screen, Kraftwerk stayed true to its principle of insisting on the best quality available. That meant a special cinema mix in Dolby Atmos – a scalable sound system with which sound objects can be positioned in a space. The mix was produced in Studio A at ARRI@Bavaria Film in Geiselgasteig near Munich – the same rooms in which the industrial production of talkies began in Germany in 1930. It is in this historical location that Kraftwerk's sound engineer Fritz Hilpert, Tom Ammermann, and ARRI Media's Head Sound Engineer Tschangis Chahrokh, together with his team, created the soundtrack in Dolby Atmos under cinema-acoustic conditions. And the result is something special: the re-interpretations of "Radioactivity," "Trans Europe Express," and "The Robots" are groundbreaking in the field of 3D audio.

Naturally, the visual experience also has to be of optimal quality. Senior Colorist Florian "Utsi" Martin adapted the Blu-ray version to the cinema screen, performing a color correction in High Dynamic Range (HDR) in Dolby Vision 3D. This exclusive procedure is only possible through ARRI at its Geiselgasteig location in Southern Germany, because ARRI@Bavaria Film has the only Dolby Vision Grading suite outside the USA. Kraftwerk confirms: "The far greater contrast scope means the concert images have much more depth and vividness."

And finally, ARRI transported the film via DCP into the movie theaters, where audiences enthusiastically celebrated "3-D The Catalogue." Daniel Vogl is very pleased about ARRI's involvement in this synthesis of the arts: "It's an experimental and exciting collaboration. We set ourselves the goal of achieving the very best that is technically possible in cinema today. Immersive audio in Dolby Atmos and HDR in Dolby Vision 3D, shot with the best camera and with fantastic music and magnificent images." The result is a product that sets new quality standards. Kraftwerk is happy too: "The collaboration with the ARRI team was professional in every way."

More about Kraftwerk at www.kraftwerk.com.

Photos: Kraftwerk (2), ARRI (2)