ALEXA SXT: latest features announcement

ALEXA SXT: latest features announcement

SXT, or Super Xtended Technology, is the new high-performance platform for the ALEXA family of cameras, with the ALEXA SXT EV (Entry Version), ALEXA SXT Plus and ALEXA SXT Studio replacing ALEXA XT models. 

The ALEXA SXT cameras utilize new components that include electronics and image processing from the ALEXA 65, as well as color management and noise reduction from the AMIRA. They share the same qualities as previous ALEXA cameras, but offer more versatile recording and monitoring options, improved look management and enhanced image quality. 

In addition to previously announced features, ALEXA SXT cameras offer HDR monitoring, two anamorphic ProRes recording formats (one 2K and one 4K, both of which simplify anamorphic shooting through in-camera de-squeeze), an ARRIRAW 3.2K recording format that achieves 120 fps, an Open Gate ProRes 3.4K recording format, an improved web remote, a single speed mode and support for LEXAR's 256 GB CFast 2.0 cards.

ALEXA XT, ALEXA XT Plus or ALEXA XT Studio cameras shipped after January 1, 2015 can be upgraded to the full SXT feature-set free of charge. Cameras shipped earlier are eligible for the SXR Module upgrade, which delivers all current SXT features but possibly not all the future upgrade potential.

Future-proof images for 4K, HDR and HFR

More than ever before, ALEXA offers the best overall image quality with the SXT cameras. For content producers that are increasingly concerned about compatibility with next-generation standards for deliverables and displays, there is no better choice than ALEXA SXT. 

By striking a perfect balance between pixel size and resolution, ALEXA SXT is able to produce beautiful images in HD, 2K and 4K, while also delivering the highest dynamic range of any camera on the market. So not only does ALEXA SXT meet the resolution needs of 4K and UHD distribution with easy, efficient workflows, it is also uniquely well equipped to create content that will take fullest advantage of emerging HDR (High Dynamic Range) display technologies. In addition, the ability to record at up to 120 fps in full image quality means that HFR (High Frame Rate) approaches to enhancing viewer experience can also be accommodated. 

New recording formats

ALEXA SXT cameras offer a total of 14 recording formats, six of which are completely new. The reason for having so many is to provide carefully fine-tuned recording options for all types of production. Whatever the budget, intended market, resolution requirements, aspect ratio, lens choices or postproduction intentions, there is an ideal ALEXA SXT recording format to ensure easy operation on set and a seamless image pipeline.

For the first time, all sensor modes (including the new 6:5 mode developed specifically for the most efficient anamorphic shooting) are available in both ProRes and ARRIRAW. ProRes offers high image quality in compressed files that are smaller, cheaper to process, immediately viewable on a Mac and easy to deal with in post. ARRIRAW offers the highest image quality, the greatest flexibility for color grading and visual effects in post, and the safest archiving.

In-camera ProRes 4K recording (UHD/Cine) 
ProRes 4K UHD is designed for TV productions and offers the easiest, fastest path to the best 4K UHD image quality. ProRes 4K Cine is designed for 4K DCI cinema and includes extra headroom for VFX markers or repositioning in post.

6:5 ProRes (2K/4K Cine Anamorphic) 
These 'plug-and-play' options offer the most economical route to the best overall image quality with anamorphic lenses. The camera creates a ready-to-view ProRes image in the 2K or 4K DCI delivery format, with no debayer, cropping, re-scaling or de-squeezing needed in post.

Open Gate ProRes 3.4K
Open Gate with a lower data rate. This format combines the immediacy, speed and economy of ProRes with the resolution advantages of Open Gate, including padding or up-sampling if required.

16:9 ARRIRAW 3.2K
Offers the largest pixel raster that also fits inside the image circle of most ARRI Super 35 PL mount lenses and reaches 120 fps. Less of a data load than 4K, but enough resolution for padding or up-sampling.

New ARRI Look Management

ALEXA SXT incorporates a completely new look management architecture, offering the most powerful and flexible method to create, view, transport and postproduce looks. 

New components of the ARRI Look Management include the ARRI Look File 2 (ALF-2), which contains a 3D LUT, CDL values and a target color space. The new ARRI Color Tool is a free Mac utility that can import and export 3D LUTs in many formats and create ALF-2 files for custom looks. Third parties can read ALF-2 files and use all ARRI Color Tool functions via the software library.

Live grading on set
ALEXA SXT cameras can replace a LUT box on set. Live grading is supported by Pomfort LiveGrade and Codex Live, with others in progress.

Automated deliverables
The ALF-2 look file is always stored in ARRIRAW and ProRes metadata, so dailies and editing proxies with the look applied can be generated automatically and fast.

Editing with looks
Looks can be automatically applied by non-linear editing programs such as Avid, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere.

Flexible and future-proof
The same look files and tools are shared by ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini (SUP 4.0) and AMIRA (SUP 4.0). 

Super-flexible on-set monitoring

ALEXA SXT features four independent monitoring outputs, catering to the needs of different people on set, for example the camera operator, assistant, DIT and director. Each output has completely independent settings such as image processing, surround view, status info, peaking and false color.

The color range captured by ALEXA is larger than that needed for Rec 709 or Rec 2020 output, so ALEXA SXT allows an independent Rec 709 or Rec 2020 setting for each MON OUT. While ALEXA recording has been HDR since 2010, the ALEXA SXT is now prepared for HDR monitoring on set.

New media bay and drives

ALEXA SXT cameras come with a new media bay side panel that can accommodate four different recording media via their respective adapters: SXR Capture Drives and XR Capture Drives, SxS PRO and SxS PRO+ cards, as well as CFast 2.0 cards.

The new SXR Capture Drives represent the next generation of professional solid state media for ALEXA SXT, ALEXA SXR and ALEXA 65 cameras. The lightning-fast maximum write speed of 20 Gb/s allows for higher maximum frame rates for some recording formats, while the 1 TB or 2 TB capacity permits longer recording times. A new SXR Capture Drive Dock with an included Vault Production Suite license complements the SXR Capture Drives.