“The Best Just Got Better” – No teasers, no fanfares, no gimmicks – when ARRI releases a camera it’s a straightforward press release in a succinct, disciplined and clean German way. No fluff, just the facts. For ARRI a new camera is business as usual – the images is what matters the most and this is just another (premium) tool for filmmakers to tell their stories. This is what it is and this is what it does. Less than a month ago we saw the ALEXA Mini at BVE 2015, and now it’s Part II of new cameras from ARRI.
Earlier today, the most respectable brand in the film industry, announced the next step in the evolution of their legendary ALEXA cameras – the ALEXA SXT. The last bit stands for Super Xtended Technology. Classy with a bit of modern twist.
The ALEXA SXT will do 4K DCI/True 4K/Cine whatever you call it (4096 x 2637 – more than 2160 because of the square-ish sensor size) to be exact and UHD in ProRes in camera among many other complex things – like Open Gate and 4:3 for anamorphic shooting. 16:9 is still an option of course. ARRIRAW and ProRes available as recording options on all models in the range.
The SXT range will replace the ALEXA XT cameras (except the Alexa XT M, the Alexa Classic remains).
ALEXA SXT range will have 3 versions:
- ALEXA SXT EV
- ALEXA SXT Plus
- ALEXA SXT Studio
New features include:
- Optional in-camera noise reduction & ALEXA 65 electronics.
- New media – SXR Drives by Codex with SxS / CFast 2.0 adapters available – up to 2TB sizes at launch
- 3 x Independent HD-SDI’s can carry Log-C / Rec.709 with overlays / Clean Rec.709 / 3D LUTs
- Advanced Colour Management Engine from AMIRA
- 3D LUT’s can be backed-in / ASC CDL / Rec.2020 Colour Space
The SXT range retain the XT body for the most part. It uses the same 3.4K ALEV III sensor found in previous Alexas that produces digital imagery of the highest fidelity with the closest proximity and organic texture and dynamic range to celluloid of any other. That’s not just my opinion, that’s what most top level DP’s think. The Academy loves ARRI too, just look at the majority of Oscar winning films in the last 4 years.
Here’s what it is and what it does.
Easy ProRes 4K recording
With in-camera recording of ProRes 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) and ProRes 4K Cine (4096 x 2637 pixels), ALEXA SXT cameras are the ideal choice for productions that need 4K UHD TV or 4K DCI cinema deliverables, so filmmakers can continue using the ARRI ALEXA platform they know and love.
Improved image quality
ALEXA SXT cameras keep the acclaimed 3.4K ALEV III sensor of previous ALEXAs and add the state-of-the-art electronics of ARRI’s groundbreaking ALEXA 65 camera. These high-performance electronics combine the latest generation of FPGA processors with a lightning-fast internal backplane and form the basis of a completely overhauled image processing chain, advanced pixel correction and optional noise reduction. This results in a further improvement in overall image quality. Like their XT predecessors, ALEXA SXT cameras retain the unique and popular Open Gate, 4:3 and 16:9 sensor modes, which can be recorded in ARRIRAW or ProRes.
New Looks and smoother workflow
The creation of new, powerful and unique looks has been made possible by utilizing the advanced color management engine originally developed for the ARRI AMIRA. Taking advantage of the extremely wide native color gamut of the ALEXA sensor, this new engine allows unprecedented control, which in the end means greater creative freedom for the filmmaker. In addition, previewing of looks on-set is improved, including the option to use the wide color gamut of Rec 2020 gamma, while dailies creation is made more efficient and final grading made faster.
A new type of look file, the ALF-2 (ARRI Look File 2), contains an ASC CDL (American Society of Cinematographers Color Decision List) as well as a 3D LUT (look-up table). ALF-2 files can be created with a new ARRI Look Tool, which can also import standard 3D LUTs. ALF-2 files and the tools that create them are compatible between ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini and AMIRA. Once loaded into the camera, CDL parameters and/or 3D LUTs can be applied to any of the three HD-SDI outputs or the viewfinder. For those who need faster workflows, CDL parameters and/or 3D LUTs can also be applied directly to the ProRes recording.
The new color management engine can easily match the look of current ALEXA cameras, but also provides the basis for radically different looks.
Super flexible on-set monitoring
To further streamline on-set workflows and deliver what has been asked for by crews all over the globe, ALEXA SXT cameras include three fully independent HD-SDI outputs. This allows, for instance, a Log C image to be used to show the director a pristine image with live grading, a clean Rec 709 image to be fed to video village, and a Rec 709 image with status information overlays to be displayed on the camera’s on-board monitor.
ALEXA SXT cameras are designed to keep up with the growing needs of changing production methods: their powerful electronics offer significant potential for future hardware and software upgrades, illustrating ARRI’s continuing commitment to the future-proof technology concept behind the ALEXA system.
Price doesn’t matter at this level. It will be expensive and you won’t be able to afford it. It’s a hire camera. It requires a crew. My guess SXT camera will start at about 50-75K Euros ballpark if not more. Planned release for mid-2015.
ARRI believes in 4K as the future. A very smart and talented DP I know a few years ago told me – the day that ARRI goes all out with 4K, is the day the format will be validated by the industry. No more whining the Alexa doesn’t do 4K. Upscaled to 4K from a 3.4K sensor with equal if not better results than other cameras with 4K+ sensors…
Now on to NAB 2015 in less than three weeks for Part III of ARRI’s new cameras for 2015 for their new 6K camera… (or ARRI doing a Sony with camera releases this year). In case you missed it read the RED spoiler for ARRI’s new 6K camera here.
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