ARRI Wireless Video System (WVS)
Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that cannot be answered by the ALEXA SXT W web pages or by this FAQ, please ask in the ARRI Forum.
Version: May 17, 2017.

1. ALEXA Camera Line-up and Upgrades
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What are the changes to the ALEXA camera line-up?

The ALEXA SXT W replaces the ALEXA SXT Plus and ALEXA SXT Studio cameras. The ALEXA SXT W is based on the ALEXA SXT Plus, with the addition of a wireless video transmitter, a WiFi radio and a new internal board that allows faster frame grabs. 


The new ALEXA line-up includes:

  • ALEXA SXT W (wireless HD video, ARRI ECS camera & lens control, WiFi) 
  • ALEXA Mini (ARRI ECS camera & lens control, WiFi)
  • ALEXA SXT EV (no wireless)


When will the SXT W and the ARRI WVS be available?

The ALEXA SXT W, the SXT W Upgrades and the rest of the ARRI Wireless Video System are planned to be available in the third quarter of 2017. 

Until the SXT W is shipping, the ALEXA SXT Plus will remain available for sale. Any ALEXA SXT Plus purchased between May 1, 2017 and the first customer shipping of the ALEXA SXT W will receive an SXT W upgrade free of charge. 

What are the differences between an ALEXA SXT Plus and an ALEXA SXT W?

The SXT W includes a transmitter for wireless HD video, a WiFi radio and a new internal board that allows faster frame grabs. To accommodate the new radios, the ALEXA SXT W is 400 g (0.9 lbs.) heavier, 3 cm (about 1 inch) longer and uses 8 Watts more power than the ALEXA SXT Plus. 



What kind of upgrades are available for existing cameras?

We offer an affordable upgrade from an ALEXA SXT Plus to an ALEXA SXT W and from an ALEXA SXT EV to an ALEXA SXT W. 

In case of an upgrade from ALEXA SXT Plus to ALEXA SXT W, the upgrade includes:

 

  • ARRI integrated wireless video transmitter
  • WiFi module
  • New fan grill with WiFi antenna connectors
  • ALEXA SXT W name plate
  • CMC-2 board (for faster frame grabs)
  • 5x Antenna Video/WiFi/ECS
  • Upgrade labor

 


Until the SXT W is shipping, the ALEXA SXT Plus will remain available for sale. Any ALEXA SXT Plus purchased between May 1, 2017 and the first customer shipping of the ALEXA SXT W will receive an SXT W upgrade free of charge. 

As before, we also have upgrade options from ALEXA XT to SXT cameras and from ALEXA SXT EV to ALEXA SXT Plus. 

2. ARRI Wireless Video System - Compatibility and Components
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Why is the ARRI WVS not compatible with other wireless transmission systems?

ARRI had the hardware and software of the wireless video transmitter and receiver modified to comply with ARRI’s stringent performance and quality requirements. Therefore the ARRI WVS is not compatible with other systems on the market. In addition, this ensures that all components of the ARRI WVS work seamlessly together and all adhere to the same high quality standards, from the high input voltage range to the easy one-button pairing. 

Can the Transvideo Starlite ARRI-WVS monitor also control the ALEXA Mini?

No. The Transvideo Starlite ARRI-WVS monitor is only compatible with the ARRI Wireless Video System and does not have control functions for ALEXA Mini. There is another Transvideo monitor that does that: the Transvideo StarliteRF-a. However, the StarliteRF-a needs a Transvideo transmitter on the ALEXA Mini for the remote control functions. While it would have been desirable to have both functions in one Starlite monitor, this was technically not possible. 

Does the Transvideo Starlite ARRI-WVS cover the same distance as the WVR-1?

The Transvideo Starlite ARRI-WVS monitor has a much smaller receiver board inside than the ARRI Wireless Video Receiver WVR-1, and so covers less distance. While the WVR-1 should be able to receive a signal from as much as 600 m (2,000 feet), the Starlite ARRI-WVS is rated for about 200 m (660 feet). 

Why do the new antennas have a blue and a white ring?

These are new dual-band high performance antennas that will work with all three radios on the ALEXA SXT W. They can be attached to the wireless video (5 GHz, blue ring), WiFi (2.4 GHz, white ring) and ARRI ECS (2.4 GHz, white ring) antenna connectors. Please note that the old ARRI ECS antennas have no color ring and should only be used for WiFi and ECS. The old antennas should not be attached to the wireless video antenna connectors on the camera or to any connector on the WVT-1 or WVR-1. 





Do you have high gain antenna panels available for the ARRI receiver WVR-1?

While at this time we do not supply high gain antenna panels for the ARRI receiver WVR-1, such panels available from other vendors are compatible with the ARRI receiver WVR-1. 

3. ARRI Wireless Video System - Operation
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Can I use the ARRI WVS to transmit and monitor HDR on-set?

Yes, the ARRI WVS can be used to transmit and monitor HDR images as it transmits a 10 bit signal. 

How can I pair the transmitter to the receiver?

The pairing procedure for the ARRI Wireless Video System devices is a fast and easy one-button process. Essentially, you turn on one transmitter/receiver pair at a time and then pair them. Please note that the pairing process for each of the receivers must be done while the other receivers are turned off.

 

  • Turn on the transmitter and the first Wireless Video Receiver WVR-1. The transmitter can be either the one in the SXT W camera (turn transmitter power on in Menu>Monitoring>MON OUT 3/Wireless Video) or a stand-alone Wireless Video Transmitter WVT-1, which has a physical on/off button on the side. 
  • Make sure no other transmitters and receivers are powered up. 
  • Make sure the transmitter and receiver are at least 1 m/3 feet apart. It is counter-intuitive, but this does not work too well if they are closer. 
  • Press the PAIR button on the WVR-1 until the NETWORK LED blinks. 
  • Press the PAIR button on the transmitter until the NETWORK LED blinks. 
  • Pairing is completed when the NETWORK LEDs stop blinking and the VIDEO LED is illuminated. 
  • Turn off the WVR-1 and repeat the procedure for each additional WVR-1.


How many receivers can be paired to one transmitter?

It is possible to pair up to 4 receivers (either the ARRI receiver WVR-1 or the Transvideo Starlite ARRI-WVS monitor) to one transmitter. See an example setup with three cameras and 12 receivers below. 

How many Wireless Video Systems can I use at the same time in the same area?

The number of WVS systems (one system being one transmitter and up to four receivers) in parallel depends on the number of channels available, which is different for each region, and on the radio noise present. In general, 4 to 6 systems can work in parallel. 

How far can the ARRI Wireless Video System transmit HD video?

The transmitter built into the SXT W and the stand-alone transmitter WVT-1 in combination with the receiver WVR-1 cover as much as 600 m (2,000 feet) within line of sight. The Transvideo Starlite ARRI-WVS monitor has a much smaller receiver board inside than the ARRI Wireless Video Receiver WVR-1, and so covers less distance, it works for about 200 m (660 feet) within line of sight. Note: The minimum distance for all units is at least 1m/3 feet. The system does not work very well if you get transmitter and receiver any closer to each other. 

Do SONY L series batteries supply enough power for additional accessories through the PWR OUT on the Wireless Video Receiver WVR-1?

Depending on your set-up and the power consumption of the additional accessories, one L series battery might not be able to supply enough power through the PWR OUT connector of the WVR-1. In that case, either add a second L series battery or use the Receiver Power Supply RPS-1. 





4. ARRI Wireless Video System - Technical Aspects
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What frequency bands do the ALEXA SXT W radios operate in?

The ARRI Wireless Video System uses the 5GHz unlicensed frequency band (blue antenna color code), while the SXT W WiFi and ECS radios work in the 2.4 GHz range (white antenna color code). The new antennas we supply work for both bands and have a blue and a white ring. The old antennas have no ring and should only be used for WiFi and ECS. 

Can I manually enter a frequency on the WVS?

No, in most countries selecting a frequency band manually is not legal. Instead, the system automatically and continually scans the airwaves and selects frequency channels with low interference levels. This is called DFS - Dynamic Frequency Selection. In DFS, all channels are continuously monitored and ranked for immediate use by the WVS. In case of interference on any channel, the system immediately hops to a better channel without losing even a single pixel of video. 

What kind of metadata is transmitted with the wireless video?

The HD wireless video transmission includes 2 channel embedded audio, timecode and the HD-SDI REC flag. 

What is the best antenna for the ARRI Wireless Video System?

During the development phase of the Wireless Video System we have experimented with a large range of antennas, including very pretty integrated antennas and strange mushroom shaped omnidirectional antennas. In the end we found that a certain type of stick antenna provided the most robust transmission, especially if transmitter and receiver are not perfectly aligned, as is often the case when the camera is hand held. Also, these antennas cover a large range of frequencies in the 2,4 and 5 GHz bands, allowing the transmitter and receiver to negotiate their frequency based on the largest range of options. Many third party antennas cover only a small part of the 5 GHz spectrum, and thus limit the system's ability to re-negotiate frequencies. 

Are there health concerns regarding the use of radio transmitters on cameras?

Based on all available information, it is safe to operate these radios on the camera. 

The FCC in the US, the European Union and other countries require any device that emits radio waves close to the human body to pass the so called SAR test, which the ALEXA SXT W easily passed. SAR stands for "specific absorption rate", and is a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to a radio frequency electromagnetic field. 

Are the transmission and video output of the WVS devices 8 or 10 bit?

The transmission and the video output of the WVS devices are 10 bit. This is important since 8 bit is not enough for monitoring HDR images, but 10 bit is. 

Can the Wireless Video Receiver WVR-1 process 3D LUTs?

No, the WVS takes whatever signal comes from the camera and outputs it without any modifications. In general, we recommend to make color changes (3D LUTs and CDL values) centrally in the camera, as that ensures that everyone on set sees the same image. It also ensures that the color metadata gets recorded with the master images for faster dailies creation, proxies creation and editing with the intended look. 

Does the WiFi radio in the ALEXA SXT W offer access point and client mode?

At this point in time the WiFi of the ALEXA SXT W offers only access point mode, which means that external devices can connect to the ALEXA SXT W WiFi network, but the ALEXA SXT W cannot log into existing WiFi networks.