Interview with Andreas Weeber on the Arriflex D-20 Digital Camera

Recently brought in from Munich by Simon Broad, Andreas Weeber is the Supervisor of the new Digital Imaging Department at Arri CSC in New York. He is also responsible for introducing the Arriflex D-20 Digital Camera to the United States. ArriD20
Alexa O'Brien
The rumor on the street is that both Arriflex and Panavision have made their last 35mm cameras. Arriflex will not make anything after the Arricam and the Arricam Light and Panavision will not make anything after the Platinum, so neither will create new film cameras. They will just maintain what is already out there. Is that true?
Andreas Weeber
No, that's definitely not true. Arri doesn't see the D-20 as a replacement for film cameras. The D-20 is aimed for different applications, let's say commercials or something, you know whatever is not going to end up on a film screen or something. But, you know, movies in the theater still should be done on a 35 mm camera. We never pretend the D-20 is as good as a 35 mm camera, resolution wise and color wise and all this. So that rumor is just not true, and Arri would be really stupid to do something like this.
Alexa O'Brien
In ten years will film still be used as an acquisition format?
Andreas Weeber
Oh, sure.
Alexa O'Brien
And the reason?
Andreas Weeber
Yes, film is still the better capturing medium. Film also develops. So film stock considered good today will be not good in ten years, there will be better film stock around. They said film was dead twenty years ago and film is not dead. No. No. Definitely, in ten years time there will still be film. The question is, "Will there be film in movie theaters? Will film be a release medium?" I am not sure about this. It probably also will be around but digital projection is moving fast.
Alexa O'Brien
I understand what you are saying in terms of information within the image...that you get more information within the film picture than you would in a 2K digital image. Is it a matter of archival issues with digital that you are also considering as a factor in film's longevity?
Andreas Weeber
That is not even a thing I was thinking about, but you are right, exactly. We don't know how the electronic, digital media behaves as far as storage is concerned. So far I think the whole storage issue is not really solved or not so handy in the digital world so far. One thing comes to mind whenever we show the D-20 on a trade show and they ask about a 4K camera and so on. We tell them "Yes, We have a perfect 4k camera. It's nice and small and you can put in on your shoulder and it has a built in on board battery and so on, and it takes about ten minutes recording time." People get all excited and then we point to the 235 which is our handheld 35 mm film camera and then you know, it's just such a smaller package right now. So this will change possibly when the digital storage also gets smaller but I don't see this happening within ten years.
Alexa O'Brien
I imagine sooner or later the digital image is going to be able to contain as much information, and you will probably be able to do a lot more with it in term of post, and it will be probably more cost effective...
Andreas Weeber
Yeah, possibly. Sure the image will get better. The resolution will be higher, but then you also need a tremendous amount of storage so this is something you know...Right now we can deal with our HD image. We record it on a tape or an up-res or something. Let's say the image gets better, the resolution gets better, you also need more storage to capture all this information, all these details and I just see that so far that this might replace a big bulky studio camera, but not a handheld camera. So there will be still film for handheld stuff.
Alexa O'Brien
What are the most important trends that you see in film production right now?
Andreas Weeber
I just relocated to New York. I was in Munich the last five years, so I don't really know the production world here yet.
Alexa O'Brien
OK. What about in Europe?
Andreas Weeber
Yeah. What I can see technically there is a really strong move to digital intermediate. So the traditional film lab is really more or less done. The traditional color, color timing an so on. So if you shoot it on film, scan it on the ArriScan then do all your work in the digital area and then print it out again on the ArriLaser. For me personally this is not the main issue because I am here to introduce the D-20 and I expect the D-20 to change a lot of things. Nevertheless, I still am convinced that film will be around and people will shoot features on 35mm cameras for the next ten or even fifteen years. I think the D-20 by its film like image will have a certain impact on this.
Alexa O'Brien
How do you think the D-20 will change acquisition?
Andreas Weeber
It will change it by the way you shoot. You can shoot a little bit more randomly because you have unlimited amount of tape. More like a hit and run approach. Sometimes like you do in video. Let's collect images and then worry about how they fit together later. I can imagine that this will happen. But it also depends in what hands the D-20 is.....so who works with the D-20. When its a traditional film cameraman, a DP, then he or she can work like with a 35mm camera; and obviously their approach to shooting and shooting ratio will no be so much different. But, now also if a video guy shoots with this camera then we will get different results. We will get the video aesthetic with a 35mm image, with that feel and so on.
Alexa O'Brien
What is influencing the move towards digital acquisition?
Andreas Weeber
It's immediate. So you are set with this camera and you can really see your original camera negative. You see what you get on the monitor and it's not an estimation through your video assist or something, or some visualization software or something. You really see what you get and I think this is very comfortable especially for customers, that they see.
Alexa O'Brien
Thank you for your time today.
Andreas Weeber
You are welcome.
Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien researches and writes about national security and law enforcement. Her work has been published in The New York Times, VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian (UK), The Daily Beast, NY Daily News, and featured on the BBC, PBS, NPR, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the United Kingdom and listed in The Verge 50. In 2016, she worked at The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C. as a staff researcher and writer on an independent commission studying Oklahoma's death penalty. She also provided research support to scholars of the first cost study conducted on that state's capital punishment system.