The Fascination of Celluloid

»Always developing Something innovative for the Century-plus Old Film Industry is Our Job.«, Frank Ortwein, CEO MWA Nova GmbH

Photo: Volker Döring

For more than a century, films have been stored on celluloid. In order to process them digitally, the film reels will have to be scanned.

The film scanners at MWA Nova do this work. “The film negatives are placed in the scanner and the film can then be cut on the computer. The red, green and blue colors can be modified or the night can be made into day, scratches can be filtered out, images enlarged and much more”, says Frank Ortwein, Managing Director. The devices that are manufactured by hand in the company’s own workshop are available for all popular sizes from eight- to thrityfive-millimeter film.

The fascination with the theater continues uninterrupted. Of course, the time when the huge reels of film ran through projectors has become the past.

Digitalization is making progress in the film production area. Only major Hollywood directors, like Steven Spielberg, and ambitious art film makers still use thirty-five-millimeter celluloid for filming. Digital theater cameras are replacing the reels of film.

Mr. Ortwein has responded to the new orientation of the industry and is now focusing on archives. Many kilometers of film have been stored there, which will have to be digitalized for posterity. Using Mr. Ortwein’s devices does the job faster than real time. The company even has a patent for the process.

Mr. Ortwein’s machines even add sound to the films. “We have the only film sound recorder in the world, which can record Dolby Digital Sound on film”, says Mr. Ortwein. With Dolby Digital Sound, the audience gets the feeling of being surrounded by sound. Around the world, MWA Nova is considered a specialized machine manufacturer for the film and television industry, which focuses on development, manufacturing, marketing and service for film scanners and film recorders.
MWA Nova has a long history.

In 1926, the company had already been established as MWA Albrecht. It produced magnetic players and cameras in large part. In 2002, the company had to declare bankruptcy.

As technician majoring in electronics, Mr. Ortwein has been self-employed in the industry. He knew the managing director of MWA Albrecht through his work. In 2002, Mr. Ortwein purchased the company as part of the involvency process and moved from Wiesbaden to Berlin. “I settled in Charlottenburg because of the proximity to the university. There are many more innovative companies here (often hidden in rear courtyards) than one would think. Plus, it is beautifully green and centrally located.” Mr. Ortwein has new ideas for the future. These ideas tend towards the direction of digital, and perhaps even 3D, cameras, since “always developing something new for the century-plus old film industry is our job”, as Frank Ortwein summarizes it.

Bettina Tacke
Kluge Köpfe 2011