ARRI Film & TV and THREE: The first German 35mm production completed entirely in 4K - including VFX

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Last Updated: January 10, 2011 7:05 pm GMT
(Munich, Germany--January 10, 2011) For THREE, filmmaker Tom Tykwer relied once more on the technical support of ARRI Rental and ARRI Film & TV in Berlin and Munich. Again he explored the latest technological options filmmaking has to offer, making THREE the first German 35mm production completed entirely in 4K.

The first German 35mm production in 4K
It was Tom Tykwer and DoP Frank Griebe's decision to shoot Three with anamorphic lenses, which prompted ARRI to suggest to finish the film in 4K to ensure the quality of the anamorphic negative, which is particularly high. Only in 4K the transfer into the digital environment can be completed without any loss. And so, to preserve the resolution, definition and brightness of the anamorphic images, it was agreed upon to work in 4K.

ARRI Rental Berlin, which supplied the camera, lighting and grip equipment, also obtained the needed scope lenses, which gave the film its unique look, from a supplier in Paris.

VFX in Full-CG 3D
ARRI's Visual Effects Department in Munich also played a crucial role in this undertaking. "Finishing Three in 4K was quite a challenge," explains ARRI VFX Artist David Laubsch. "But, after working on 40 projects in 2K and 3K, I enjoyed being able to take full advantage of the available resolution. Every image had 4096x3112 pixels and was the size of around 50 mbyte. Plus, it was an additional treat for us, that the film was shot with scope lenses."

Right from the start, the audience gets a sense of what's to come with the help of a 3D animation during the film's opening. Looking out of the compartment window of a moving train, we see two parallel overhead wires above the adjoining railroad tracks. Accompanied by a perfectly synchronized voice-over, the wires seem to be engaged in a sort of 'dance', as do the protagonists, later in the film.

Another challenging sequence shows Simon's deceased mother (Angela Winkler), who appears to her son in the streets of Berlin as an angel before ascending to the sky. "A lot of prep went into this shot," ARRI Head of VFX Dominik Trimborn points out, "including 3D previews to precisely choreograph the movement of this complicated tracking shot in advance." Particularly labor intensive was an animation sequence in full-CG, during which the camera moves in on an elaborate model of a fetus, including veins and skin, swimming in amniotic fluid in a womb. ARRI VFX Head of 3D Michael Koch: "The 'fetus sequence' in full-CG was an exciting challenge, technically as well as creatively, for our VFX 3D Department, especially since we were working in 4K. We are particularly proud of the partially animated 3D sequence of the overhead wires that was featured prominently in the film's trailer." The sequence became an instant hit with the online community, which lauded it as one of the best trailers in recent years.

ARRI Sound Berlin
Three was also one of the first films to be mixed in the newly renovated sound studio at ARRI Film & TV in Berlin. In addition to the two mixing studios in Munich, ARRI now has another THX certified sound stage, capable of meeting the high demands of any international film production.

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