ALEXA goes clubbing
Armed with a prototype ALEXA and an ARRI/FUJINON Alura Zoom, cinematographer Volker Langhoff, BVK took to the streets of Berlin. This is his report:
"ALEXA looks a bit different from other ARRI cameras, but offers all the traditional ARRI features, so gear and accessories from any rental facility can be used. The body is surprisingly small, with the cooling system taking up the whole of the rear, so the camera does not get hot at all. There is a large but quiet fan that runs permanently - on location I was never able to hear it. The fan's 20 db noise level is less than that of most film cameras. Our battery consumption seemed to be moderate for a digital system.
The ventilation slot in the back of the camera is not protected against rain and dust; it made me a bit nervous out in the open. Marc Shipman-Mueller, the ARRI product manager who accompanied us on the shoot, assured me there wouldn't be any problem. Since he knows what he's talking about and ARRI put its name on it, I went ahead, still with a strange feeling when the rain hit us. After nothing bad happened, I had no more hesitation and used the camera like any other ARRI. An electronic viewfinder was nothing new to me, since I do a lot of TV work. However, a color viewfinder that is actually usable was new to me.
We shot impressions of downtown Berlin in a more-or-less documentary style and moved around quite a lot. Not only did we shoot with an ALEXA prototype, but we also had the new 18-80mm Alura Zoom, which was very nice. We shot all kinds of different situations, looking for difficult lighting setups and object patterns; I could not find an environment the ALEXA was unable to handle. There was a marathon that day so large parts of the city where closed to traffic, and that night a voluntary power cut to highlight environmental issues made us lose further locations. The ever-changing April weather also took its toll on the crew and equipment.
Just to give it a try we went to a techno night club. At two in the morning it was just filling up; there was plenty of smoke and it was pitch black. I said to myself there is no light, so let's not shoot: I wanted to leave right away. None of our point-and-shoot still cameras could get an image, but looking through the ALEXA viewfinder I was stunned, and decided to give it a go. In the end things turned out very well and we captured some usable footage. I was pleased and so was the crew; we ended that day tired but happy and with a beer in our hands. I haven't seen my images on a large screen yet, but I am absolutely convinced ARRI has set a new standard in digital cinematography."
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