Bill Bennett, ASC takes ALEXA for a ride

Bill Bennett, ASC takes ALEXA for a ride

Bill Bennett, ASC recently shot a Honda commercial in Los Angeles on film with the ARRIFLEX 435 and took along an ALEXA for a side-by-side comparison. Cinematographer Kees Van Oostrum, ASC shot the scenes with ALEXA alongside Bill's film camera, on what was the first shoot in the United States with the ALEXA prototype. Here's what Bill thought after seeing the results:

Right now I feel like there are no limitations.

"The film was scanned at 2K and brought into Baselight; the ALEXA material was brought into Baselight as well and it was rather astonishing. This is the first time that I've seen film images corrected to precisely where we wanted them and then brought in digital images that looked exactly the same. To my mind it's an epiphany - a turning point in the development of motion picture imaging equipment.

How was ALEXA to work with in terms of speed of camera setup; use of the accessories; use of the lenses, etc? In reality it was just as fast as the film camera. We were trading lenses back and forth between the two cameras and the ALEXA didn't slow us down at all. As far as how the images looked once we applied the LUT to convert them from Log to Linear, the colourist said that - unlike a lot of other electronic cameras where he has to spend time solving image problems such as discolored areas - he could just start colour correcting immediately. He didn't need to solve any image problems because there weren't any; it just colour corrected like the film scans did. 

The other thing we thought was really terrific was that you could easily intercut the film and digital images, although the film had a little patina to the grain, which you could maybe replicate in the digital images with ARRI's Relativity software. 

We rated the camera at 800 ASA, but two different and very skilled colourists - one at FotoKem and one at New Hat - have now both told us: "You're actually underrating the camera; you're overexposing a little and we'd prefer that you stop down a bit next time." That means the camera is natively around 1000 or 1250 ASA with virtually no noise, which is wonderful. 

Right now I feel like there are no limitations. I feel completely comfortable bringing ALEXA into any kind of environment. You ought to understand, we were shooting silver cars in bright sunlight, which for an electronic camera would typically be an extremely difficult challenge, but it handled the highlights running across the top of the car very beautifully. The other area where the camera did extremely well was night exteriors without any additional lighting, just using the available light from street lights and shooting with Master Primes, wide open. It was absolutely gorgeous."