ALEXA: latest news
With the release of the latest model in the ALEXA range -- the Plus 4:3 -- earlier in 2012, ARRI has consolidated the ALEXA system to such a degree that it now offers an unparalleled variety of options to film and program makers. Work continues to go on, however, to refine existing features, develop new hardware and software tools, and improve the return on investment enjoyed by ALEXA customers worldwide. To this end, the next free-of-charge ALEXA software update will enhance image quality and make in-camera SxS PRO card recording an even more attractive option for feature films, while new extended warranties eliminate uncertainties regarding long-term cost of ownership.
SOFTWARE UPDATE PACKET SUP 7.0
SUP 7.0, which is due for release in November 2012, will bring some significant image quality improvements as well as exciting new recording options for feature film productions using ALEXA's in-camera SxS PRO cards.
Replacing the current Regular Speed Debayer algorithm inside ALEXA will be a new algorithm that provides even cleaner, sharper-looking images than ALEXA does today, especially on high contrast edges and in areas with fine detail. The new Regular Speed Debayer algorithm applies to all HDSDI outputs, as well as ProRes and DNxHD images in Regular Speed mode (0.75 to 60 fps). At the same time the High Speed Debayer algorithm (for 60 to 120 fps) will also be replaced with an improved version.
Of the two new recording options enabled by SUP 7.0, the first is ProRes 2K 4:3, which facilitates the shooting of anamorphic feature films onto in-camera SxS PRO cards. It will work with all ALEXA cameras that are 4:3 capable (ALEXA Studio, ALEXA M and ALEXA Plus 4:3). On spherical lens shoots, ProRes 2K 4:3 gives extra room for vertical repositioning in post, while on ARRIRAW shoots it provides the option for an extra in-camera backup. ProRes 2K 4:3 records 2048 x 1536 pixels into a QuickTime/ProRes file, supports all ProRes codecs, and works from 0.75 to 48 fps.
The second new recording option, ProRes 2K 16:9, is great for shooting feature films onto in-camera SxS PRO cards without rescaling, as would be needed with ProRes HD. ProRes
2K 16:9 works from 0.75 -- 60 fps with all ALEXA models and provides a high quality 2048 x 1152 ProRes file that is ideal for feature film productions.
Due to these new recording options, the choices of what to see in the viewfinder and MON OUT image have been reworked. Users can decide between seeing just the image being recorded, the image with the surround view, or the image with surround view and also camera status. Other benefits of SUP 7.0 include the LCC (Low Contrast Curve) in every ALEXA by default; 3D sync for the ALEXA M; the addition of a sixth user button, achieved by moving the function of the edit button to the jog wheel; and many other user interface improvements.
ALEXA M D-BRACKET
The new D-Bracket allows the head and body of the ALEXA M to be mounted securely together. It has been designed for situations where space is not restricted and users wish to shoot with the M in the same way as with other ALEXA models, perhaps mounting the camera on a tripod or dolly. The D-Bracket kit includes the Universal Adapter Plate UAP-1, which is necessary for the connection of camera body to head.
UNIVERSAL ADAPTER PLATE UAP-1
With the Universal Adapter Plate UAP-1, ALEXA cameras can be quickly moved from a traditional ARRI cine-style bridge plate (including BP-3, 5, 8 or 9) to a Steadicam dovetail plate. Additionally, it is used to attach the ALEXA M body to the ALEXA M D-Bracket. Previously the BPA-2 bridge plate adapter was used to mount ALEXA to an ARRI bridge plate, but switching to Steadicam shooting and back again proved time consuming. Now, with the UAP-1, quick changes between bridge plate and Steadicam plate can be made with all ALEXA models except the Studio.
Many ALEXAs are now going out of warranty, so in order to make the cost of ownership more predictable, ARRI is offering an annual extended warranty. This warranty covers all parts and labor required due to defects in materials or workmanship that prevent the camera, any installed options, and the viewfinder from operating within factory specifications.
Although they are manufactured to exacting standards, ALEXA cameras - like all other professional camera systems - are often subjected to extremely demanding conditions on set and will require maintenance from time to time. Unplanned repair expenses can be avoided by investing in an affordable extended warranty, while discounts for advance and bulk purchase can bring the fixed cost of ownership even lower.
Because there is never any time lost waiting for purchase orders or payments for out-of-warranty repairs, and because cameras covered under the warranty go into a priority repair queue, downtime is reduced to the absolute minimum.
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