Arri Alexa

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The Arri Alexa is a film-style digital motion picture camera system made by Arri first introduced in April 2010. The camera marks Arri's first major transition into digital cinematography after smaller previous efforts such as the Arriflex D-20 and D-21. It features modularity, PL mount lenses, a Super 35 sized CMOS sensor shooting up to 2880×2160 resolution and supports uncompressed video or proprietary raw (ARRIRAW) data.[1]

Overview[edit]

The camera is equipped with an onboard SxS card encoder that can record in either Rec. 709 or Log-C to ProRes 422 or ProRes 444 codecs.[2] as well as DNxHD in 1080p resolution. For an additional 1,350 Euros, Alexa camera owners can purchase a software "key" that will unlock the camera's ability to record up to 120fps in ProRes 422 HQ.[3]

The camera is designed for use in high budget feature films, television shows, and commercials, and is widely seen as Arri's answer to the growing acceptance of the Red One camera, along with lower resolution cameras like the Sony CineAlta (35 mm, 1080p), Panavision Genesis (35 mm, 1080p), Thomson Viper FilmStream (2/3", 1080p) to shoot feature films.

Model range[edit]

The range of models has been expanded through the camera's lifetime. In 2012, there were five basic models of the Alexa:

Alexa[edit]

The first camera of the Alexa product family. Introduced in April 2010.

Alexa Plus[edit]

The ALEXA Plus adds integrated wireless remote control, the ARRI Lens Data System (LDS), additional outputs, lens synchronization for 3D, and built-in position and motion sensors.

Alexa Plus 4:3[edit]

The ALEXA Plus adds integrated wireless remote control, the ARRI Lens Data System (LDS), additional outputs, lens synchronization for 3D, and built-in position and motion sensors and a 4:3 sensor making it ideal for anamorphic cinematography.

Alexa M[edit]

The Alexa M has its imaging and processing unit broken down in two parts to be small, compact and lightweight for 3D rigs and other uses where size is a concern.

Alexa Studio[edit]

The Alexa Studio features an optical viewfinder, mechanical shutter, and a 4:3 sensor making it ideal for anamorphic cinematography.

In February 2013,[4] the range was renewed as Alexa XT (XT standing for extended technology). This range is upgraded versions of the original Alexa cameras, which are equipped with a so-called XR module, which replaces the SxS module on the cameras, and allows direct RAW recording without the need for an external recorder. This module records on dedicated SSD drives. Further improvements are an internal ND filter unit and a quieter cooling fan. The range accordingly comprises the Alexa, the Alexa XT, the Alexa XT M, the Alexa XT Plus, the Alexa XT Studio, and the Alexa Fiber Remote. Existing cameras can be upgraded.[5]

Sensor Information[edit]

The Alexa's ALEV III sensor has 3392×2200 effective pixels used for generating an image, however, only 2880×2160 pixels are used for recording on the Alexa Studio and M in 4:3 mode, and 2880×1620 pixels are used for recording on the regular Alexa and other models in 16:9 mode, the rest are used for lookaround in the viewfinder.[6]

Recording media[edit]

The Arri Alexa can record to 1920×1080 ProRes 422 or ProRes 444 on SxS Cards or 2880×1620 ARRIRAW to external recording devices. The Arri Alexa Firmware 7 increases the resolution on the SxS cards to 2k ProRes 4444 (previously 1080p)

ArriRaw[edit]

ArriRaw is a Raw codec similar to CinemaDNG that contains unaltered Bayer sensor information, the data stream from the camera can be recorded via T-link with certified recorders like those from Codex Digital or Cineflow.

The ArriRaw format (along with the other recordable formats) contains static and dynamic metadata. These are stored in the header of the file and can be extracted with the free web tool metavisor[7] or with the application Meta Extract provided by Arri. Of particular importance for visual effects are the lens metadata, which are stored only when Arri's lens data system (LDS) is supported by the lens used.

Reception[edit]

According to cinematographer Roger Deakins, the Alexa's tonal range, color space and latitude exceed the capabilities of film. "This camera has brought us to a point where digital is simply better", says Deakins.[8] Deakins used the camera to shoot the James Bond film Skyfall, becoming the first James Bond film to be shot digitally.

Due to the camera's simplicity of use and high image quality, quite a few network television shows have been shot with the Alexa.

Filmography[edit]

Arri Alexa being used on the set of Law & Order: SVU

2010[edit]

2011[edit]

2012[edit]

Director Robert Tur with an Alexa-Plus camera equipped with an 18 mm Master Prime lens on the set of SIS.

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

2015[edit]

Similar cameras[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]