Product Information Film
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Volker J. Müller||Date:
Siegfried Steiner. Frame grab from VHS tape.
It is certainly always interesting and in a way also complimentary for a
filmmaker to shoot a commercial or product film about a world innovation.
If, however, this film is produced with the help of another world
innovation, this can be called a very exceptional incidence. In this case,
the film-maker was Steiner-Filmproduction, Munich. The world innovation
which was the topic of the film is the present BMW flagship: the 850i. And
the world innovation which was used by the director/cameraman Siegfried
Steiner for shooting the film was the
ARRIFLEX 765. The following report is
about the experiences with so much new.
The problem was twofold: On the one hand a product information film about
the 850i was to be produced with a running time of about ten to twelve
minutes. The purpose of this film was to give more detailed information to
dealers and customers who had already ordered this vehicle, so to speak a
little compensation for the long waiting-time of almost two years until
The second part of the problem was to produce an exhibition film about the
sportscoupé for the IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) in Frankfurt.
The length of this fascination film should be approximately four minutes.
It's the format that matters
Originally, the 35 mm-format was discussed. However, Siegfried Steiner had
wished for a long time already to shoot a 70 mm-Showscan-film. So this was
his first idea when he was approached by BMW in 1988. However, since the
special venue movie theatre where this Showscan film was to be screened was
not ready by then, he dropped the realization of the "70 mm-idea" for the
time being. Nevertheless, this exhibition film was meant to be something
extraordinary, equal to the extraordinary automobile. And at last it was
there again, the "70 mm-idea". Siegfried Steiner: "The format plays an
important role with a film".
A year before he already shot a production film in CinemaScope about another
model of the same company. This film turned out to be a big success: It was
found out that this widescreen-format was especially suitable for an
automobile production film.
So he proposed to BMW to shoot the exhibition film in the 70 mm-format. The
advantages for such a decision were quite obvious: More light-output, a
sharper image, larger screen, etc. The automobile manufacturer agreed
At that time it was not yet known at Steiner-Film that Arnold & Richter had
already finished the development of the ARRIFLEX 765. By accident they
learned however about the latest status and so they came knocking at ARRI's
door. After agreement had been reached about all arrangements, the ARRIFLEX
765 could start its first assignment.
|More in 70mm reading:|
with the ARRI 765
Interview With Otto Blaschek - The Making
of ARRI 765
In the Movies with
On Location in Paris with
Product Information Film "BMW 850i"
The theme: Italian
850i. Screen grab from VHS tape.
BMW looked at their product in a way of being "Italian"-orientated. Apart,
in 1938 two BMW-models won the famous Mille Miglia in their class; so, the
film should also have an Italian touch. Therefore it was finally decided
that the topic should be the Mille Miglia, however, from a scenery and
culinary point of view. Speed was not in demand; with a car of this class
this is almost superfluous.
BMW gave their blessing to the treatment set up by Siegfried Steiner, on the
17th of July 1989, after only one week of direct preparation, the time had
come that a crowd of ten people with eight cars crossed the Alps southward
bound. A shooting period of three weeks, that means until the 9th of August,
lay ahead of them.
A product film was to be shot. Out of the most interesting pictures the "EMO"-Trailer
(Emotional Trailer) for the exhibition was to be produced, with the
enchanting background music of Frank Duval.
This may sound very simple, however, realistically seen it is quite
Siegfried Steiner: "When do you decide which pictures are especially good?
In general, you only film good and interesting subjects anyway. The ideal
procedure to shoot everything in the 70 mm-format was of course not feasible
because of the budget."
The cameraman had an additional way of looking at the problem: "When you
look through the finder of a 35 mm camera and then through a 65 mm-camera,
you see two different worlds. That is a dream!" The solution of our problem:
We always started shooting the 35 mm and then the 65 mm-version. For this it
was necessary to slightly change the sets.
The format made all the difference: "The big format gives you many more
ideas...The brilliancy of the viewfinder alone is enormous."
Italy - A country for film-making
car with camera arm on the roof. Frame grab from VHS tape.
We always drove in a convoy of about eight vehicles, all in all
approximately 4800 kilometres. Our star, the "850i", was unloaded six to
seven times daily.
The team didn't know exactly in advance when and where a certain scene was
to be shot. Of course, a production manager had been location-scouting ahead
of the team, however, he only selected the scenery in general. The scouting
was supported by a helicopter. "Most of the ideas for the settings came
during the trip when all of a sudden we were inspired by the scenery, a
building or the 1ight conditions."
"The final creation of the film", Steiner added, "is done to a great deal in
the editing room anyway, as is well known". In this case it was the editing
table of Verena Böckler.
During the entire period the film crew was accompanied by an
ARRI-technician-team from Vienna, in order to obtain first practical
experiences under rough shooting conditions. Also the ZDF accompanied them
part of the way, shooting a documentary about the production.
It was in the height of the summer and the main vacation season in Italy, so
it was not quite easy to shoot always and everywhere.
Siegfried Steiner: "We are used to shoot a lot in France, about 80 percent,
but for me, Italy is the total hypercountry". The police are more than
friendly and the people very obliging. We stopped our convoy on the main
street, even without permission. The police immediately controlled the
traffic. We never experienced any problems from that side."
"Certainly it was an advantage that we had hired an Italian production
manager for this venture. Furthermore the person up there who controls the
weather was on our side: During the entire three weeks shooting period we
had only one day of bad weather."
Test of strength
765 camera on camera arm. Frame grab from VHS tape.
"We used the video assist only for those settings when the cameraman was not
able to look through the viewfinder, like for certain drive- and
helicopter-shots. In the beginning we expected a major problem with the 65
mm-equipment like dolly, jib-arm, crane, Hot-Head etc. because this gear was
designed for 35 mm-cameras."
The question was: "Will the crane break or not?" Much to our surprise it
didn't! After all, the "756" weighed almost double as much as its smaller 35
For using the ARRIFLEX 765 on the motion control small modifications had to
be carried out like drilling other holes for the holding devices. This job
was done by the ARRI-technicians from Vienna who carried out fast precision
work. In addition the U-shaped holder of the Hot-Head had to be widened with
a spacer to accommodate the "big" "765".
After we found out that the jib-arm carried the weight without problem we
didn't install additional supports which would have limited the mobility.
This configuration was even used when we crossed a bridge. In this set-up
the camera was hanging on a three metre long jib-arm outside the bridge-rail
over a 150 m precipice, and we drove at a speed of about 80 km/h.
That was when the ARRI-technicians felt sick; no wonder, but you can't make
something out of nothing!
Handy and not scared of water
car with camera arm on the roof and BMW seen from helicopter. Frame grab
from VHS tape.
Otherwise the camera was very rarely on a tripod. On the most part it was
lying on wooden boxes, standing on the floor or hanging upside-down in a
special suspension. As expected, it stood up to all this without problems.
And for the case that the worst would come to the worst we still had our
ARRI-technicians from Vienna.
The camera even proved to be quite resitant to water. The "765" proved to be
very "eager for action".
It also proved very handy to operate and compact. Siegfried Steiner and
second cameraman, Peter Karl, were also able to shoot inside the running car
without space problems. Handling with respect to measurements could be
compared with the 35 mm-camera.
The outwitted optics...
The handling of the optics was not so familiar. Siegfried Steiner is used to
pull the focus always by himself, even with long focal lengths.
"I can't tell you why, you have to have a feel for that."
According to Steiner he ran a bit into trouble in the beginning. The reason
was that the depth of field is very low. "If you just turned a little bit,
the image was immediately out of focus."
However, this problem existed only for a short time, even though they often
used a range extender which complicated the matter even further.
In general Siegfried Steiner works with two focal lengths only. Since the
macro-lenses are not yet available for the "765" and the normal lenses could
not be used for distances below 170 cm, close-ups proved to be very
complicated. This distance was still too total for cameraman Steiner. Much
to the surprise of the ARRI-service-team he used a little trick with
close-ups: He removed the lens from the mount, attached it on a tripod about
30 cm in front of the camera and covered the space in between with a black
cardboard box. The whole design looked like a bellows. Now he was even able
to cover a film frame with a peg for tuning a violin. So it could happen
that the lens was lying on a table with the camera a few centimetres behind.
Siegfried Steiner: "The shots turned out beautiful".
He always used the smaller magazine (500 ft) which, for reasons of weight
reduction, he usually loaded with 60 m film-stock only. Whenever it was
more, his assistant helped carrying the camera.|
"For shoulder operation it is a bit heavy", says Steiner about this
newcomer, however, he is convinced about its handling.
You can imagine how many times they had to change the magazine when the
"765" was sometimes running at a frame rate of 80 fps or even 120 fps! The
latter speed was only possible after a little technical
All in all they used about 4500 m of 70 mm-film-stock and about 8000 m of 35
mm-film-stock (Kodak 65 mm-negative 5247 and 5245).
Due to their excellent contacts in the USA they had no problem obtaining the
According to Steiner-Film the additional cost for the 65 mm-format as
compared with the 35 mm-format is not so significant. A major problem
however was that, except developing, no post production could be done in
Germany. Neither master nor duplicate prints could be made here. So, post
production was done by Deluxe in Hollywood and Steiner-Film was lucky to get
delivery just in time before the exhibition.
Nevertheless, this venture into new territory was worth it. When asked
whether he would work again with the new ARRIFLEX 765 Siegfried Steiner
replied with a clear "of course!"
"The absolute best of all, however, was the catering", gourmet Steiner who
is known to his friends for his culinary passion said smilingly. Viva
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