Interview with Clemens Danzer, ARRI representative: The race with the technological advancement is continuous

Clemens Danzer is a senior-level executive of the global company within the motion picture media industry – ARRI. ARRI is celebrating its 100-year anniversary since its creation. The company was formed in 1917, in Munich, Germany, where the headquarters is still located today. ARRI is a leading designer and manufacturer of camera and lighting systems for the film and broadcast industry, with a worldwide distribution and service network.

Danzer is part of the ARRI management team for 26 years now and is Director of International Sales for the ARRI Rental E.U. Division. The company manufactures and supplies cameras and lighting equipment, postproduction services, cinema andmedical equipment…

What is the feeling to be working in a company with a hundred year’s tradition?

It is a nice feeling, although I still feel quite young (he laughs).

The people around the world, not just film professionals, recognize ARRI as exceptional quality…

We are doing everything within our power to reach the goals of the cinematographers. The fact that we have existed in the market for a hundred years gives us confidence that we are doing things in the right way. Of course, the race with technological advancement is continuous and we must always be prepared. We cannot stop. We have to keep our eyes open and be conscious of what is happening in the industry. We must also be in constant dialogue with the cinematographers and the clients, listening to them in terms of which direction they want to develop their business. For us it is important to create products which people will prefer to work with.

How big of a challenge was the transition from analogue to digital technology?

One of the biggest challenges for us was the speed of that transformation. We were conscious that the digital technologywould overrule in the future, but regardless of that, the analogue cameras will always remain in our hearts and be cinematographically relevant. The challenge was the transition towards digital. It was a completely new world for us and what we wanted is to enable the film creators access to our digital products, yet have a similar, expansive cinematographic experience, as they had shooting with film stock.

How much are the older cinematographers attached to the analogue cameras and the film strip?

It really isn’t an age-related issue, but more of a creative preference. Cinematographers are open in general to new ways to create compelling visual experiences. However, the styles vary dramatically from cinematographer to cinematographer, depending on the subject matter, time period they are trying to capture, and the emotional and visual experience that they are actualizing. For example, we had a wonderful experience with Roger Deakins, who filmed the sequel “Blade Runner 2049” by Denis Villeneuve last year with digital technology, although he used to be a big advocate of analogue camera systems. But there are still some DOP’s who keep 35 mm alive like Mátyás Erdély, the cinematographer of “Son of Saul”, the film which received an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2016. Erdély decided to shoot his next film again with an ARRI 35mm camera, and he even picked our 65mm Flagship Camera ARRI 765 for selected scenes. It’s very exciting for us as a company that those cameras which have been built decades ago are still highly appreciated and used by renown DP’s. Whether to use digital systems or film stock – this decision is not on us – it’s on the creative side and the DOP’s.

The resolution of the image is vitally important but not the only consideration when it comes to the engineering of the cameras. What is important is not how many pixels will the sensor have but what dynamics, colormetry and quality each pixel has. At the end of the day the clients are the ones who decide which system is their selected tool to express their unique and diverse cinematographic experience.

The 20th century passed marked by the “fight” between the manufacturers of the “Mitchell” cameras and ARRI. Which are today’s competitors for ARRI?

Well, “Mitchell” doesn’t exist anymore, the company was overtaken by “Panavision”. But we don’t see it as a fight: Companies like “Panavision”, “Sony”, “RED”, or “Panasonic”… are all welcomed competition in order to drive and develop new products to support the industry. We are all passionate in what we are doing.