If there ever was a perfect camera, the ARRI Amira would be it. At least, for me. The AMIRA features the Alexa sensor in a slightly smaller package with all the features I need – professional audio, solid on-board codec, ergonomics, high-frame rates, and a future proof path to upgrades. Getting into an ARRI camera is probably the biggest investment you’d make in a professional business environment if get paid to shoot video these days. Bundle up the £30,000+ the ARRI Amira (with Premium License) with a couple of cine zooms (like Alura’s or Cabrio) and you could be set for life. It has been a dream camera for many, and while getting into the ARRI ecosystem is akin to maybe only getting into a RED environment, as in once you get in, you tend to stay there for life.
At IBC 2014, ARRI announced the AMIRA would be getting a UHD (3840 x 2160) ProRes up to 60p recording in all flavours up to and including ProRes 4444 before the end of the year. Announced earlier today, the Amira officially will get the UHD recording as a part of SUP 2.0 firmware update due to be released next month.
And that’s not all – ARRI also announce their plans for SUP 3.0 further down towards the middle of the year to give the AMIRA even more functionality and make it even more broadcast friendly with the implementation of the broadcast standard MPEG-2 50Mb/s 422 in an .MXF file format – a codec that all broadcasters are still using on a daily basis for the majority of their work. TV studios and production companies shooting for broadcast are expected to get a lot more footage on their CFast 2.0 cards (which are still expensive as ****) and enjoy the benefits of a more streamlined and familiar workflow.
ProRes is great, but even in LT, its still around 102 Mb/s – double the bit rate of what regular XDCAM based workflow users demand in the broadcast world. Implementing such a codec in the AMIRA will put it one step closer to producers using it for all sorts of broadcast content, not just higher-end narrative and docu work that this camera has mostly been used for.
Broadcast DP’s and producers have been clamouring for an MPEG-2 422 codec at 50Mb/s for ages, and ARRI is once again listening to their customers. Always a good sign from a manufacturer who has £30,000+ of your hard earned cash.
Here’s a summary of what’s coming and when:
SUP 2.0 – March 2015
- UHD (3840 x 2160) ProRes up to 60p – all flavours (LT, 422, HQ, 4444)
- Optional in-camera de-noising, sharpening and detailing tools permit the image to be optimized for specific applications or matched to different cameras and lenses.
- ProRes 3.2K recording (allowing cross-compatibility with ALEXA cameras running ALEXA SUP 11.0);
- WiFi remote support;
- Ability to monitor audio channels individually;
- Additional lock functions to prevent the accidental pressing of buttons or switches;
- Frame rate adjustments while in pre-record mode;
- Frame grabs from the live camera image;
- and many more.
Rumoured price for the 4K UHD upgrade is around €500 and the option will be available to purchase from the ARRI License shop.
SUP 3.0 – scheduled for release Mid-2015 (June – July?)
- MPEG-2 422P@HL at 50 Mbit/s in an MXF wrapper
- Intervalometer for Timelapse applications
- Super 16mm mode (similar to the Sony F5/F55)
- Camera remote control interface for multi-camera live or scripted productions
- New camera body extension for audio – a slot for a portable audio tuner/receiver
In addition to the already announced updated coming up, and the Canon EF interchangeable mount, the AMIRA become even more appealing. Considering the fact that you probably won’t ever buy another camera, seriously, 30 grand is not that much in the long run… See all those Canon C300‘s listed on ebay, whereas a few months ago there were none, now every day there’s another C100 or a C300 listed for sale. Must be pre-NAB times, I guess. I don’t think ARRI owners have that problem of swapping cameras every 2-3 years. Just saying.
Read the full Press Release below:
ARRI announces the upcoming release of Software Update Packet (SUP) 2.0 for AMIRA cameras, and the subsequent release of SUP 3.0. The former unlocks 4K UHD recording for high-resolution pipelines, while the latter enables MPEG-2 MXF recording for streamlined, broadcast-friendly workflows. Together they stretch the already wide spectrum of AMIRA’s deliverable options at both ends of the scale, making the camera an even more versatile production tool.
Underlining the positioning and success of AMIRA as the perfect camera for productions ranging from documentaries, reportage and corporate films to TV and low-budget movies, these two major software updates in the first half of 2015 will enhance the feature-set in ways that respond specifically to customer requests and industry trends. With its flexible, re-programmable system architecture, AMIRA will continue to expand in functionality over the coming years in the same way that ALEXA has done since 2010, allowing it to keep pace with a rapidly evolving market and deliver a strong return on investment.
AMIRA SUP 3.0 — scheduled for release mid-2015
The key new feature of AMIRA SUP 3.0 is the ability to record MPEG-2 422P@HL at 50 Mbit/s in an MXF wrapper. This XDCAM-compatible MPEG-2 recording format allows television productions to take advantage of AMIRA’s superior image quality and ergonomics, while utilizing a low-bandwidth codec that can easily be integrated into typical broadcast environments and workflows.
Recording MPEG-2 MXF with AMIRA ensures 100% compatibility with the format already used by many low budget or time-pressured television productions, for which a streamlined workflow through ingest, editing and post is vital. This cost-efficient format minimizes the number of memory cards needed on set, but also reduces postproduction and archiving costs through reduced data rates and seamless integration with standard tools.
In order to further ease the integration of AMIRA into fast-paced television production environments, a new audio accessory will be released. Taking the form of an extension to the back of the camera body, it will equip AMIRA with a slot for a portable audio tuner/receiver. This will allow signals to be received wirelessly from either the sound recordist’s mixer or straight from radio microphones, accommodating the needs of ENG-style productions that capture audio directly in-camera, but value the most cable-free configuration possible.
Other features of SUP 3.0 will include a versatile camera remote control interface for multi-camera live or scripted productions; Super 16 mm lens support; an intervalometer function for time-lapse applications; and a host of general usability enhancements.
AMIRA SUP 2.0 — scheduled for release in March 2015
4K UHD recording is the major new feature of AMIRA SUP 2.0. Enabled by the software update, it is activated through the purchase of a 4K UHD license at the ARRI License Shop (and a camera sensor calibration at an ARRI service center for cameras purchased in 2014).
The new 4K UHD recording format has been developed for productions that need to generate high-resolution deliverables. It allows ProRes codecs up to ProRes 4444 to be recorded in Ultra High Definition 3840 x 2160 resolution directly onto the in-camera CFast 2.0 cards, at up to 60 fps. Optional in-camera de-noising, sharpening and detailing tools permit the image to be optimized for specific applications or matched to different cameras and lenses.
Further enhancements provided by AMIRA SUP 2.0 include ProRes 3.2K recording (allowing cross-compatibility with ALEXA cameras running ALEXA SUP 11.0); WiFi remote support; the ability to monitor audio channels individually; additional lock functions to prevent the accidental pressing of buttons or switches; frame rate adjustments while in pre-record mode; frame grabs from the live camera image; and many more.