Something ARRI has never been known for is pushing the upper limits of resolution. They are perfectly content to focus on color rendering and dynamic range instead of cramming the most pixels into their camera systems.
Their Super 35mm cameras didn’t even reach true 4K until earlier this year!
I think we all know that ARRI’s cameras are some of the best despite this decision. But what if you could get high-resolution 8K video using an ALEXA Classic shooting in 2K?
FoxTailWhipz has been going on a journey with the ARRI ALEXA and has added high-resolution output as another mini project. Let’s see how he attempted to turn the camera’s gorgeous 2K recordings into 8K video.
He is specifically using an ARRI ALEXA Classic that can record in 2K, which is 2048 x 1152. Compare that to UHD 8K which clocks in at 7680 x 4320.
This same sensor was being used until just this year, which should tell you that it can produce some phenomenal footage with class-leading dynamic range and ARRI’s famous colors.
Now, that doesn’t mean that having some extra resolution and detail isn’t a good thing.
And, while the sensor may be great, it can’t just make up pixels in camera. However, you can start using the 2K footage with smart software applications to fill in the missing information to get it to 4K or even 8K.
For this, he is using Topaz Video AI. It uses AI models to do an effective upscale of your footage. These days computers and software and getting good enough that you can make use of this at home.
This isn’t a simple upscale either that just grows the resolution and adds some sharpening. But is it actually good enough to use?
You will need to keep in mind that the software can only work with what it is given. Ideally, you should be feeding in high-quality footage that, besides the resolution, is good. That means proper exposure, sharp focus, good colors, etc.
What he does is take the 2K footage he shot with the ALEXA Classic and upscale it into 8K ProRes 4444 video.
Given the right footage I will say that it does not look bad. I’ve seen loads of bad upscaling/sharpening over the years and this one looks very natural.
Admittedly, it doesn’t look as detailed as true 8K footage can be, but it is objectively better than the native 2K.
The type of footage matters as well. Something where details are seen but are lacking that extra punch and micro contrast are looking great. Especially if the background is blown out with shallow depth of field.
It will, obviously, keep all the highlight rolloff and dynamic range of the original footage. Potentially always a win.
A possible downside is that this software can be time consuming. A 30 second clip took on average about 20 minutes to render out.
If you are planning to present your footage on high-resolution displays where extra detail can help out it might be worth checking out. Or using as a final pass after you output your master file.
What do you think about the 8K upscaled footage and Topaz Video AI?
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