At this year's NAB Show, ARRI's offerings met the needs of productions seeking some specific things: 4K delivery for TV shows and films, and the ability to put an ALEXA in specialized shot situations. The new ALEXA Mini and ALEXA SXT fit into the ARRI family and meet these needs with new technology that allows the electronics in ARRI's recently announced 65 mm camera to be used for improved picture quality. The Mini eliminates the need for third-party cameras to be incorporated in an otherwise ALEXA shoot, making the post production pipeline move more efficiently and without interruption.
Announced ahead of the NAB Show, the ALEXA Mini had the opportunity to get ahead of other news of small form factor cinema cameras, clearly a customer-driven need for today's productions. This Mini camera packs much of what is in demand with the popular XT (now SXT) camera into a very small body, making for a great additional camera for specialized shots. Vice President of International Marketing for ARRI Franz Wieser told me they wanted to eliminate the need to seek out the addition of third party cameras for things like drone shots, which makes post production people like me very happy.
The Mini is lightweight and rugged, with a solid titanium PL mount that connects directly with the new internal sensor mount. It can be controlled by wireless remote control, used as a normal camera with the ARRI MVF-1 multi viewfinder attached, or with an on-board monitor and controlled via the user button interface on the camera body. It's also set up to shoot in landscape or portrait positions, making it more versatile for any kind of mounting.
Equipped with a 4:3 sensor, automatic de-squeeze mode for anamorphic productions and frame rates of 0.75-200 fps, the ALEXA Mini records ProRes or uncompressed ARRIRAW either in-camera to CFast 2.0 cards or to a specially-designed external Codex recorder that can record image streams from up to four ALEXA Minis simultaneously. The images easily match other ALEXA cameras.
Codex Capture Drive
The body design is optimized for use with new-generation brushless gimbals, multicopters and other specialized rigs. In fact, it's already been used in such a way – its maiden voyage was on a recent short film called The Balloonist, which successfully tested the camera on Freefly Systems' popular gimbal rig and the CineStar aerial multi-rotor. The ARRI ALEXA Mini is scheduled to begin shipping in May 2015.
ARRI also announced new features to its popular ALEXA cameras with the SXT, which brings in-camera recording of ProRes 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) and ProRes 4K Cine (4096 x 2637 pixels) to productions, making it ideal for shows with new 4K/UHD delivery requirements.
Keeping the same 3.4K ALEV III sensor as the XT, the SXT adds new electronics from the recently announced ALEXA 65 that allow an overhauled image processing chain, meaning the image quality has gone up. The ALEXA SXT camera retains the unique and popular Open Gate, 4:3 and 16:9 sensor modes, which can be recorded in ARRIRAW or ProRes.
The color management engine developed with AMIRA is now a part of the SXT, which takes advantage of the extremely wide native color gamut of the ALEXA sensor. A new type of look file, the ALF-2 (ARRI Look File 2), contains an ASC CDL (Color Decision List) as well as a 3D LUT (Look-Up Table). The new color management engine can easily match the look of current ALEXA cameras, but also provides the basis for radically different looks. Previewing of looks on set is improved, including the option to use the wide color gamut of Rec 2020 gamma, while dailies creation is made more efficient and final grading made faster. And the ALF-2 files are compatible between cameras.
For greater flexibility on set, the SXT has three fully independent HD-SDI outputs -- for practical example, it can generate a Log C image to be used to show the director an image with live grading, a clean Rec 709 image to be fed to video village, and a Rec 709 image with status information overlays to be displayed on the camera's on-board monitor.
The first ALEXA SXT cameras are planned for release around mid-2015. ARRI will offer an SXR (Super Xtended Recording) Module upgrade to owners of existing ALEXA XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras. The SXR Module upgrade delivers all the features of the SXT cameras, although it might not offer all the future upgrade potential.
SXR Module Codex Adaptors
AMIRA and ALEXA 65
Launched at last year's NAB Show, the AMIRA has seen a wide adoption rate for documentary, commercial, broadcast and unscripted, with shows like The Comedians and large networks adding the camera to their ranks. And the recently announced rental-only ALEXA 65, a scaled up version of the ALEXA XT, has had significant interest in cinematographers who want to return to the golden age of 65 mm widescreen filmmaking. The camera is equipped with a sensor slightly larger than a 5-perf 65 mm film frame that is able to capture an uncompressed ARRIRAW image. Even more awesome, a Vintage 765 lens range – originally developed to partner the ARRIFLEX 765 65 mm film camera – has been adapted for use with the ALEXA 65. These lenses provide a classic filmic look with a gradual, soft roll-off across the frame.
MA with 50 Lens Flare Set
Wieser told me that at ARRI, they always have an ear to the market for new developments. "It's so crucial to cater to pro audience because they give us the best guidance. We're very close to the customers.
Codex Alexa Vault