ARRI has been on a roll recently, with the latest AMIRA update release just a couple of days ago, earlier today they released the latest firmware update for the ALEXA XT and Classic. Initially announced in September last year, SUP 11.0 gives the Alexa Classic and XT with XR modules, the ability to record in ProRes 3.2K in a 16:9 sensor area for upscaling in post-production for UHD deliverables for productions, whose budgets do not allow for ARRIRAW recording. This new feature is specifically designed or TV productions who require UHD deliverables, and despite the up-resing, the image quality remains and still outdoes many rival cameras from other manufacturers. However, I have a feeling that a lot of independent film productions will also take advantage of this option and save the money in post for raw processing and increased DIT workloads usually associated with shooting ARRIRAW. Also, the update is free of charge, which is also great news.
It’s not a big surprise that ARRI implements 3.2K ProRes recording mode in the ALEXA XT as it is already capable of recording of 3.4K RAW in Open Gate mode. The ALEXA’s unrivalled exposure latitude, highlight handling and color science already has been proofed as a standard and resulted in images beyond the capabilities of current display technologies and the widely accepted delivery in resolutions up to 2K.
The majority of digital film and television productions continue to capture and distribute in HD or 2K, formats for which the ALEXA provides an unmatched solution. Many high-profile movies have been shot in ARRIRAW 2.8K and up-sampled to a 4K for mastering and cinema projection (DCP) with spectacular results.
ARRI ALEXA SUP 11.0 New Features Overview
• ALEXA ProRes 3.2K (ALEXA XT/XR)
ALEXA ProRes 3.2K is a new recording resolution that uses 3.2K photosites from the sensor to record a 16:9 3.2K ProRes file. This format is specifically designed for TV productions that can create their 4K/UHD deliverable by up-sampling 3.2K to 3.8K (=4K UHD) in post. Despite the minor up-scale, the image
quality is usually equal to or better than that of other cameras.
• ARRI Debayer Algorithm ADA-5 (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
ADA-5 is the latest revision of the ARRI debayering algorithm, used to create a color image from the sensor’s raw Bayer data. It offers better image quality for ProRes and DNxHD recording, for the REC OUT, MON OUT and the EVF-1 electronic viewfinder. ADA-5 has already been made available in the ARRIRAW SDK for offline image processing. The new algorithm improves rendering of small, high contrast details and reduces the noise level in the red and blue channels.
• Expanded Media Support (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
In addition to previously supported media, cameras running SUP 11 also support SxS PRO+ revision C cards (SBP-64C and SBP-128C) and SanDisk CFast 2.0 128 GB cards (ALEXA XT/XR).
• Expanded Support for the ARRI Electronic Control System (ECS) (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
SUP 11 supports the new Lens Data Encoder LDE-1 and provides a number of new features when using the WCU-4 with ALEXA cameras.
• Web Remote 2.0 (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
The camera web remote has a greatly improved user interface and better functionality.
• Refined User Buttons (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
The ‘Check Last Clip’ user button command has been split into two new commands: ‘Check last clip end’ and ‘Check last clip start’ for greater flexibility.
• ARRIRAW Checksum (ALEXA XT/XR)
The camera now records checksum information for each ARRIRAW frame that can be used to verify the integrity of the image data. This function greatly shortens the verification time during the copy process and offers even more safety when working with ARRIRAW data.
• Framelines in the Metadata (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
Up to six framelines can now be saved in metadata. They can be used to speed up automated dailies processing or can be displayed in post software.
• Time Zone in the Metadata (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
ALEXA cameras now save time zone information in metadata, as we have seen that some post systems require this information for a smooth workflow.
See the Press Release below for more details.
ALEXA SUP 11.0 with ProRes 3.2K released
Software Update Packet (SUP) 11.0 for ALEXA cameras is now available for download from the company’s website, free of charge. ALEXA’s eleventh major update includes many new features, including an ALEXA ProRes 3.2K recording format for productions requiring 4K UHD deliverables, and ADA-5 — an enhanced debayering algorithm that further improves ALEXA’s image quality.
Available to ALEXA XT cameras and ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade, ALEXA ProRes 3.2K is a new recording resolution that uses 3.2K photo sites from the sensor to record a 16:9 3.2K ProRes file. The 3.2K sensor area was chosen because it is the largest area that can still be covered by almost all Super 35 PL mount lenses.
At data rates far below uncompressed ARRIRAW, ALEXA ProRes 3.2K provides the benefits of the well-established and efficient ProRes workflow. A straightforward up-sample from ALEXA ProRes 3.2K using standard post tools results in a 4K UHD deliverable of unsurpassed overall image quality.
The ARRI Debayer Algorithm ADA-5 represents an improvement in image quality for all ALEXA models, delivering clearer and sharper images. This is especially visible in small, high-contrast details (such as thin branches against a blue sky), which will exhibit smoother, cleaner edges.
ADA-5 also further reduces noise in the red and blue channels, making bluescreen compositing in VFX even easier. ADA-5 has been available through the ARRIRAW Converter since ARC 3.1 and as part of the ARRIRAW Software Developer’s Kit (SDK); it has also been used in the AMIRA camera since AMIRA SUP 1.1.
Expanded media support is another feature of SUP 11.0, with all ALEXA cameras now able to support all generations of SxS PRO+ cards, and ALEXA XT/XR cameras able to support SanDisk CFast 2.0 128 GB cards.
ALEXA compatibility with the ARRI Electronic Control System (ECS) has also been expanded, with SUP 11.0 providing support for the new Lens Data Encoder LDE-1, as well as unlocking a number of new features when using the WCU-4 wireless hand unit.
Other features of SUP 11.0 for all ALEXA models include improved web remote functionality, refined user buttons and the ability to save frame line and time zone information within the camera metadata.
Additionally, ALEXA XT/XR cameras will now record a checksum with each ARRIRAW frame that can be used to verify data integrity throughout the subsequent workflow. This makes working with ARRIRAW even safer and copying even faster, though it means that the latest version of Codex software must be used to read SUP 11.0 ARRIRAW files.
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