Arri Alexa

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Arri Alexa camera

The Arri Alexa (stylised as ΛLEXΛ) is a digital motion picture camera system made by Arri first introduced in April 2010. The camera was Arri's first major transition into digital cinematography after smaller previous efforts such as the Arriflex D-20 and D-21.

Alexa cameras are designed for use in high budget feature films, television shows, and commercials. Alexa uses the ALEV series of image sensors manufactured by ON Semiconductor.[1]

Overview[edit]

Arri Alexa camera being used with Master Steadicam

The camera has several methods of recording, including SxS cards, CFast 2.0 cards and SXR Capture Drives at resolutions up to 3424 x 2202 pixels in either Rec. 709 or Log-C to ProRes or ARRIRAW codecs. Alexa camera owners can purchase additional software licenses that will unlock different capabilities of the Alexa Camera including High Speed 120fps recording, DNxHD codec and 4:3 "Open Gate" Mode for anamorphic lenses.

It features modularity, PL mount lenses, a Super 35 sized CMOS sensor shooting up to 3424x2202 resolution and supports uncompressed video or proprietary raw (ARRIRAW) data.[2]

The price of the camera depends on model and accessories; as an example in 2015 an Arri Alexa XT cost approximately $66,000-100,000, depending on accessories included.[3]

Model range[edit]

The range of Alexa models has expanded over time:

Alexa[edit]

The first camera of the Alexa product family. The ARRI ALEXA's CMOS Super-35mm sensor is rated at 2.8K and ISO 800. That sensitivity allows the camera to see a full seven stops of over exposure and another seven stops of underexposure. To take advantage of this, ARRI offers both industry-standard REC709 HD video output as well as the Log-C mode that shows the entire range of the chip's sensitivity, allowing for an extreme range of color correction options in post.

Alexa Plus (4:3)[edit]

The ALEXA Plus added 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 had 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. A special version of the Alexa M, called the Alexa SXT-M, was created for Gemini Man.

Alexa Studio[edit]

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

Alexa XT[edit]

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 SSDs. Further improvements are an internal ND filter unit, a 4:3 sensor, an Open Gate sensor mode, 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 with the XR module for internal raw recording.[5]

Alexa 65[edit]

Arri Alexa 65

On 21 September 2014 at the Cinec convention in Munich, Arri announced the Alexa 65,[6] a 6k 65mm digital cinema camera. As with cameras from competitor Panavision, the Alexa 65 camera was available by rental only, provided through the ARRI Rental Group.[7] The Alexa 65 uses the A3X sensor, which has a maximum recordable resolution of 6560x3100.[8][9]

The first production to use the camera was Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which was used to shoot the underwater sequence, and around forty percent of The Revenant.[10]

In May 2015, Marvel Studios announced that Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame will be shot entirely with the brand new camera, marking the first time a narrative feature film was shot entirely with a customized version of the Alexa 65 camera, Alexa IMAX, as the camera had only been used to film specific scenes in Captain America: Civil War.[11]

Alexa Mini[edit]

Arri Alexa Mini

On 24 February 2015, Arri announced the Alexa Mini. It has the same sensor as the other Alexa cameras. It features in-camera recording to CFast 2.0 cards, 200 FPS and 4K UHD in-camera upscaling.

Alexa SXT[edit]

Arri Alexa SXT Plus

On 18 March 2015, Arri announced the SXT line of Arri Alexa cameras which will support in-camera upscaling of Apple ProRes to 4K resolution and Rec. 2020 color space.[12][13] Arri also announced the SXR module which can upgrade XT, XT Plus, and XT Studio cameras with the SXT features.[12][13]

Alexa LF[edit]

On 2 February 2018, Arri announced the Alexa LF at the BSC Expo. It is a 4K Large Format Camera. The ALEXA LF's A2X sensor is based on two vertical ALEV-III sensors, which are stitched together to create a seamless large format image. This is the same principle as that with which they created the ALEXA 65, which uses three Alexa sensors that are arranged vertically. The ALEXA LF can record in Open Gate in a resolution of 4448 x 3096.

Alexa Mini LF[edit]

On 28 March 2019, Arri announced the Alexa Mini LF, which houses the same sensor as the Alexa LF inside a camera body similar to the Alexa Mini. Additional improvements over the Alexa Mini include an improved EVF (MVF-2) with larger flip-out monitor and power outputs for camera accessories. The camera also features a new Codex recording module, which accepts 1TB Codex Compact Drives.[14] It was ARRI's top-selling camera prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sensor information[edit]

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

The Alexa's ALEV III image sensor has 3392×2200 effective pixels used for generating an image, 2880×2160 pixels are generally 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 of the sensor is used for lookaround in the viewfinder. Alternately the full sensor resolution may be employed in 'Open Gate' mode for resolution demanding situations.

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

The Alexa 65 uses the A3X sensor, which has a 54.12 mm × 25.59 mm active imaging area. It provides up to 6560×3102 'Open Gate' maximum recordable resolution.[9]

The Alexa LF and Alexa Mini LF use the A2X sensor, which has a 36.70mm x 25.54mm active imaging area. It provides up to 4448x3096 maximum recordable resolution.

Recording media[edit]

The Arri Alexa can record to 1920×1080 ProRes 422 or ProRes 4444 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.[citation needed]

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.[15] Deakins used the camera to shoot In Time, the James Bond film Skyfall, Prisoners, Unbroken, Sicario, The Goldfinch and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography winners Blade Runner 2049 and 1917.

The Alexa is the dominant camera in the professional film industry, and was used as the primary system on over 70% of the top 100 grossing films since 2016.[16] Since its introduction, seven movies shot on Alexa (Argo, Birdman, Spotlight, Moonlight, The Shape of Water, Green Book and Parasite) won an Academy Award for Best Picture. Also, movies shot on Alexa won Academy Award for Best Cinematography eight times, including five in a row between 2011 and 2015, for Hugo, Life of Pi, Gravity, Birdman, The Revenant, Blade Runner 2049, Roma, and 1917.

Similar cameras[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ON Semi Sensors Power ARRI Cameras". Image Sensors World. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  2. ^ "ARRIRAW | ARRI Digital". Arri. 15 July 2010. Archived from the original on 23 November 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  3. ^ "A Review of the ARRI Alexa XT professional production camera". 4k.com. The basic camera package will cost you about $66,575. And with accessories, this price can easily reach $100,000 with the addition of XR drives, remotes, licenses, cables and add-on hardware.
  4. ^ "ARRI Group: News". Arri.com. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  5. ^ "ARRI Group: Cameras". Arri.com. Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  6. ^ Renée, V. "Rumor No More: ARRI Reveals Their 6K 65mm Cinema Camera, the ALEXA 65". No Film School. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  7. ^ "ARRI Rental - ALEXA 65" (Press release). ARRI Rental. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  8. ^ ARRI Rental | ALEXA 65
  9. ^ a b Sudhakaran, Sareesh (26 September 2014). "Thoughts on the Arri ALEXA 65 65mm 6K Camera". Wolfcrow.com. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  10. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/rogue-one-revenant-help-bolster-851170
  11. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/marvels-avengers-infinity-war-be-794031
  12. ^ a b Deborah D. McAdams (18 March 2015). "Arri Rolls Out Alexa With 4K ProRes Recording". TVTechnology. Archived from the original on 21 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  13. ^ a b "ALEXA SXT". Arri. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  14. ^ https://web.archive.org/save/https://www.newsshooter.com/2019/03/28/arri-alexa-mini-lf-announced/
  15. ^ American Cinematographer: Time Bandit. The ASC. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  16. ^ "The use of digital vs celluloid film on Hollywood movies". Stephen Follows. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.

External links[edit]