ARRI, IBC 2014, Amsterdam: ALEXA’s tenth software update will be released sometime in September this year, concluding an open beta that began in August. The many features in Software Update Packet (SUP) 10.0 have been chosen based on feedback from numerous set visits and a continual dialog with cinematographers, assistants, DITs, rental and post houses, and ARRI partners.
At its launch, ALEXA was promised to be a future-proof system and ARRI has been working hard to ensure that its feature set evolves with modern shooting practices and needs. It is the re-programmable FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) processors inside ALEXA cameras that have enabled them to be updated with functionality far beyond the original specifications.
Apple ProRes 4444 XQ for ALEXA XT and XR
The new Apple ProRes 4444 XQ codec is the ideal choice for productions that are shooting for premium image quality, or are looking to take their color grading to extremes. This new 12 bit RGB codec supports HD and 2K resolutions as well as 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. Its data rate of 500 Mb/s (at 30 fps 1920 x 1080) is higher than ProRes 4444’s 330 Mb/s, allowing a lower compression ratio that better preserves the superior tonal range of ALEXA’s Log C signal.
Open Gate support for ALEXA XT M
The many movies that are already recording in the ARRIRAW Open Gate format with ALEXA XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras will now be able to do the same with the compact ALEXA XT M. Open Gate records the full size of the ALEXA sensor for an easy 4K up-sample or for repositioning, resizing and stabilizing in post.
ARRIRAW 4:3 Cropped for ALEXA XT and XR
In order to reach 96 fps when shooting ARRIRAW 4:3 with anamorphic lenses, the new ‘ARRIRAW 4:3 Cropped’ mode reduces the width of the recorded image to 1.2:1, which is all that is needed to record the image produced by a 2x anamorphic lens.
ADDITIONAL NEW FEATURES FOR ALEXA CLASSIC, XT AND XR CAMERAS
180° image rotation – Allows Steadicam rigs to be flipped upside down for low mode shooting; it also rotates the image for the ARRI Ultra Wide Zoom UWZ 9.5-18/T2.9.
Support for SONY SxS PRO+ memory cards –ALEXAs now support recording ProRes or DNxHD to 64 GB and 128 GB SxS PRO+ memory cards.
REC OUT = clean MON OUT – More recording modes now support two independent HD-SDI outputs, allowing a clean Log C signal on REC OUT, while a Rec 709 signal with overlays and an optional ARRI Look File can be output on MON OUT.
Faster regular/high speed switching – The time it takes ALEXA to switch from regular (0.75-60 fps) to high speed mode (60-120 fps) has been reduced to about 20 seconds.
Dimmable status information –The status information overlay available on EVF and MON OUT can now be dimmed for low light scenes.
Monochrome status icons – The rectangular status icons to the left and right of the image are now monochrome, which is less distracting when color grading on the set.
Colored camera index letter – The camera index letter can be assigned one of six colors, making it easier to identify images from different cameras on monitors.
‘Lens Squeeze Factor’ metadata field – This new metadata field allows the manual entry of a ‘Lens Squeeze Factor’ so post software can automatically de-squeeze anamorphic images.
Independent peaking setting for playback – Peaking on the MON OUT and EVF during playback can be set independently from peaking during recording. The factory default is ‘Peaking during playback = off’.
The feedback keeps coming as digital production methods continue to evolve. Work is already underway on SUP 11.0, which will further improve the usefulness and flexibility of ALEXA cameras with features such as ProRes 3.2K and a checksum for ARRIRAW recording.
With headquarters located in Munich, Germany, Arnold and Richter Cine Technik (A&R) was founded in 1917 and is the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of motion picture camera, digital intermediate (DI) and lighting equipment. The ARRI Group comprises a global network of subsidiaries and partners that covers every facet of the film industry, including worldwide camera, grip and lighting equipment rental through ARRI Rental; turnkey lighting solutions through the ARRI System Group; lab services, postproduction and visual effects through ARRI Film & TV; and film distribution through ARRI Worldsales. Manufactured products include the ALEXA camera system and AMIRA documentary-style camera; Master Anamorphic lenses; L-Series LED and M-Series HMI lights; Pro Camera Accessories; and ARRISCAN archive technologies. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized ARRI’s engineers and their technical contributions with 18 Scientific and Engineering Awards.
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