Sorry for additional noise:
I called tech support for more information about the two leads to the coils -- it turns out it's just a +/-/ground setup, but poorly labeled in the diagram. Also, they provide some suggested circuit diagrams for the shutters:
Their basic approach is indeed the capacitor-driven pulse.
I think the circuit for my shutter (labeled "typical VS35 drive") is more complex in this case than it would be with the arduino + power FET because their example has some transistor logic for switching based on an input pulse. Whereas I'd just use the arduino to turn the FET on and off, right?
Also, the circuit suggestion has a timer to deliver a pulse from 70V to open, then 7V to hold for the first few seconds, and then 5V for the remainder of the hold time (the higher hold voltage is used at first to reduce mechanical bounce). However, I'm told that this is optional -- holding at +5 or +7V should be OK for the model I have. (Though would there be an easy way to have the arduino switch the circuit to a lower voltage? Just another digital output pin to a transistor controlling an additional resistor?)
Basically, at this point, my main question is how do-able you think such a set-up would be for a newbie... Is it on the order of "fun learning exercise" or closer to "easy way to hurt yourself and damage an expensive shutter"?
Thanks for all the help!