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Arri upgrades the Alexa

Arri upgrades the Alexa
Pippa Considine
21 February 2013

Arri is relaunching its Alexa camera range, with a new generation of Alexa XT cameras (Xtended Technology), which will incorporate a number of key new features.

The Alexa XT, Alexa XT M, Alexa XT Plus and Alexa XT Studio cameras will replace all previous models except for the original Alexa.

Owners of existing Alexa cameras will be able to purchase individual upgrades that deliver most of the features of the XT configuration.

All Alexa XT models come with the new XR Module, a side panel that has been co-developed with Codex to replace the previous SxS Module. The result is a smaller, lighter, more affordable and cable-free camera package that records ArriRaw, Alexa’s highest quality image output, inside the camera.
Alexas can now capture ArriRaw up to 120 fps onto 512 GB XR Capture Drives. In addition to ArriRaw, ProRes or DNxHD can also be captured to the XR Capture Drive for longer recording times as well as ProRes 4444 recording at 120 fps. With an SxS Adapter it is possible to record ProRes or DNxHD to a single SxS PRO card, thus protecting the inventory of existing cards.

The XR Capture Drive offers a number of different paths into post, using proven Codex workflows.

The In-camera Filter Module IFM-1 allows Alexa XT models to be rated at the base sensitivity of EI 800 without the need for external Neutral Density (ND) filters, even in bright sunlight. Filtering behind the lens rather than in front saves time and reduces weight, reflections and operational complexity.

The Precision IRND filters used with the IFM-1 are based on innovative technologies that assure image quality and perfect colour balance at all of the eight available densities, from ND 0.3 to ND 2.4.

For more effective use of anamorphic lenses, each Alexa XT model is equipped with a 4:3 sensor, the same size and shape as a Super 35 mm film frame. This is to deliver the cinematic widescreen look that can trace its origins back to the CinemaScope films of the 1950s.

An anamorphic de-squeeze license is included with all XT cameras, as is a high speed license for filming at up to 120 fps. The 4:3 sensor will also be useful on non-anamorphic productions as it permits significant reframing of the image in post, similar to shooting 4-perforation 35 mm.

Alexa XT models are equipped with an LDS lens mount for a speedy VFX post workflow. The Arri Lens Data System (LDS) reads the position of all lens rings and writes them into metadata in every format Alexa can record.

Over 41 lens models have LDS built-in, including the Arri/Zeiss Master Anamorphic, Master Prime and LDS Ultra Prime series, the Master Macro 100 and the Arri/Fujinon Alura Lightweight Zooms. For all other lenses it is possible to store the lens table inside the Alexa by using the Lens Data Archive feature.

The new Viewfinder Mounting Bracket VMB-3 has a much stronger and more rigid design, partially achieved through the use of two 15 mm lightweight rods. These rods also facilitate rapid changes in camera support, i.e. from a tripod to a crane or Steadicam, since accessories such as lens motors or follow focus units can be hung from the rods rather than cluttering up the base plate.

Also available as a separate accessory is the new Viewfinder Extension Bracket VEB-3, with a fold-out arm that holds the viewfinder securely in place when moving the camera.

Arri has incorporated a new fan into the Alexa XT models, providing an extra safety margin in very quiet or very hot environments.

Arri is now offering upgrades for existing Alexas that provide most of the functionality of the XT cameras. These upgrades include the XR Module, In-camera Filter Module IFM-1, Viewfinder Mounting Bracket VMB-3, Viewfinder Extension Bracket VEB-3, XT Fan and the anamorphic de-squeeze and high speed licenses.

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