ARRI's big year for products and partnerships
COW Library : NAB Show : Debra Kaufman : ARRI's big year for products and partnerships
ARRI's Alexa has made critical inroads, lauded by cinematographers and producers alike. But the Munich-based company isn't resting on its laurels, as seen so clearly at NAB 2011 where the company debuted numerous products and updates and announced a long list of important partnerships.
First, the products. With the brouhaha over Alexa, some people forget that ARRI also manufactures lighting fixtures. They were reminded at NAB 2011, when ARRI unveiled the L-Series: three LED Fresnel fixtures that, for the first time, replace traditional Fresnels with LED-based units. The L7-T, L7-D and L7-C incorporate Fresnel characteristics of continuous focusability from spot to flood and a smooth, homogenous light field. L stands for LED and 7 for the 7" Fresnel-like lens shared by all three models. The L7-T is 3200 K (matching tungsten), the L7-D is 5600 K (matching daylight), and the L7-C is color controllable. L-Series fixtures can be operated in identical manner and in the same situations as conventional Fresnels. And the L-Series is also green: compared to conventional tungsten Fresnels, the new fixtures reduce electricity usage by more than 75 percent. More savings come with the lifespan of the LED light engine: 200 times that of a tungsten lamp. The L7 LED unit will be released in September.
Ryan Fletcher, ARRI's LED Lighting Product Manager guides us through the L-Series: three LED fixtures that are the first to truly incorporate Fresnel characteristics in function and performance
ARRI also revealed the ALEXA M, which consists of a separate camera head and body and is tailored for action photography, tight corner shots and 3D productions. The M head is optimized for small size and low weight, ideal for lightweight 3D setups, and multiple mounting points on top and bottom enable easy setup onto existing 3D rigs. Head and body are connected with a fiber optic cable that can also be used for powering the head, depending on distance. The backend provides various recording options, just like the standard ALEXA does. Working prototypes of ALEXA M will be exhibited at IBC 2011.
Cameron-Pace Modular Camera System, ALEXA M
The company announced a second addition to the ALEXA family of cameras with the ALEXA Studio. As the flagship camera, the ALEXA Studio will feature an optical viewfinder and a 4:3 sensor. The viewfinder, a new development, allows the camera to accept both 435- and ARRICAM-style eyepieces and viewfinder extensions. Using the full 4:3 area of the ALEXA sensor allows plug-and-play use of anamorphic 2x lenses. ALEXA Studio is slated for release in late 2011. ARRI also announced new features to ALEXA based on customer feedback. ALEXA Software Update Package 4.0, which will be available in June free of charge, includes audio playback (in addition to images) from SxS PRO cards through the headphones jack (and embedded in the HD-SDI stream for HD-SDI and ARRIRAW T-link output) and ALEXA anamorphic de-squeeze among many other features.
New ARRI Professional Camera Accessories (PCA) were also on offer, including new dedicated kits for DSLRs, Sony PMW F-3 and Panasonic AG-AF101; the modular Mini Matte Box 2 (MMB-2) starting at $900; and Studio Follow Focus System (FF-5) in two body types: HD and Cine.
On to the partnerships. The biggest one of the show was the announcement that ARRI has formed a "cooperative partnership" with the CAMERON - PACE Group (CPG) in the development of the ALEXA M camera system. Since the companies have worked closely on several high-profile 3D projects (Hugo Cabret, Life of Pi, 47 Ronin), it's a natural partnership. CPG are all about furthering 3D content and the new ARRI modular camera is a likely candidate for productions. The CAMERON - PACE Group will have exclusive commercial access to the first systems to be made available in September 2011. Sales to other customers will begin in Q1 of 2012. The statement from Pace and Cameron: "We have selected the ARRI Group's rental companies as a collaborator in the identification of opportunities for ALEXA M systems, and during the fall of 2011, will work jointly to place CPG and ALEXA M technology on key productions world-wide".
FUSION 3D TECHNOLOGY for "Sanctum" PROVIDED BY CAMERON/PACE DESIGNS
ARRI and Codex Digital reached an agreement, and the latter plans to manufacture a Codex ARRIRAW recorder for use with ARRI's ALEXA and ARRIFLEX D-21 film-style digital cameras. The new recorder will be marketed both directly and through ARRI's worldwide reseller network. ARRI and its resellers will also be selling Codex camera mounts, datapacks and transfer stations. Earlier this year, Codex Digital became the first company to receive ARRI's ARRIRAW format T-Link (Transport Link) certificate, confirming the ability of its recorders to record raw data from the ALEXA camera.
The Foundry, developers of the NUKE VFX compositing tool, joined the ARRI Partner Program and begun efforts to support the ARRI ALEXA camera in its NUKE and STORM products. ARRI and Tweak Software, makers of RV, an image and sequence viewer for VFX and animation artists, announced a collaboration to integrate high dynamic range, uncompromised color support for ALEXA into Tweak's tools for playback, dailies and transcoding.
Image courtesy of rise|visual effects from 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief'. VFX used: Sapphire Zap on Nuke.