ALEXA software updates

ALEXA cameras are designed for a long product cycle; this is apparent in the modularity of the side panels and lens mount, and in the way the system architecture allows radical improvements and new features. The cameras are kept current through hardware upgrade options, multiple accessories, paid software licenses and free-of-charge Software Update Packets (SUPs) that have introduced countless new features and improvements. SUP 9.0 will go into the final testing phase during IBC 2013 and ARRI is already working on converting customer feedback into detailed specifications for SUP 10.

More media choices -- CFast 2.0 support

From SUP 9.0 on, all ALEXA XT cameras and all ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade can use the new CFast 2.0 Adapter to record to, and play back from, CFast 2.0 cards. These cards offer high data rates for up to 120 fps of ProRes 4444 16:9 HD in a robust, reliable and cost-effective package.

Improved ProRes recording -- higher speeds

By optimizing the image pipeline, ARRI has increased the maximum frame rate of the highest quality ProRes codec -- ProRes 4444 -- to 120 fps in 16:9 HD mode. The processing horsepower comes from the ALEXA XT/XR cameras and the higher data transfer rates are available on either XR Capture Drives or CFast 2.0 cards. It is now possible to keep shooting ProRes 4444, no matter what the frame rate.

ProRes pre-recording -- capture the unpredictable

Based on requests from nature documentary cinematographers, ARRI is introducing ProRes pre-recording. When prerecord is enabled and the REC button is pushed for the first time, the camera will continuously capture images, audio and metadata into a temporary ring buffer -- a section of memory on the actual recording medium. When the REC button is pushed a second time, the camera will keep everything that is stored in the buffer and continue to record from there. It is thus possible to capture an event that occurred before the REC button is pushed for the second time, like the leap of a tiger or the sudden flight of an owl. The ring buffer can be set to short, medium or long, though the pre-record duration also depends on the chosen ProRes codec, aspect ratio, recording resolution and frame rate. As an example, the buffer times for ProRes 4444 16:9 HD at 24 fps at the short, medium and long settings are 4, 13 and 21 seconds.

Better DNxHD recording -- 444 and ALEXA XT/XR support

DNxHD will be available in 444 for all cameras with a DNxHD license. Developed in close collaboration with Avid, DNxHD 444 delivers stunning master quality images for those who want to stay native in the Avid world.

More and safer metadata --self-healing and LDS includes Cooke /i

ALEXA continuously closes and re-opens the files it records, so if a memory card is accidentally removed during recording, or power is suddenly lost, the files remain intact and uncorrupted. Although the incomplete FCP XML and ALE metadata files would still be readable in such a case, the camera would refuse this media for further recording.

From SUP 9.0 on, ALEXA will feature self-healing metadata -- the ability to detect an incomplete metadata file, compare it with the recorded frames and reconstruct it, allowing the media to be used again.

Support for the Cooke /i protocol as part of the ARRI Lens Data System (LDS), already present in ALEXA XT/XR cameras, will now be extended to ALEXA Classic cameras with a PL-LDS mount. Being able to recognize the ARRI LDS, as well as the Cooke /i system, allows ALEXA to read and record lens metadata from all lenses with built-in encoders for more efficient working on the set and speedier VFX in post.

New operating options -- WCU-4 and improved usability

The Wireless Compact Unit WCU-4 now offers an even tighter integration with ALEXA cameras, including proper display of pre-recording status, the ability to switch from regular speed to high speed, and a software switch for lens motor direction.

A number of user interface improvements previously released in SUP 8.1 for ALEXA XT/XR cameras have now been added for ALEXA Classic cameras: 'Audio disabled' will be indicated in the EVF and MON OUT status display, as will 'ND filter on/off' (with ALEXA Studio cameras). By popular demand, there is also a new frame line option for a smaller center dot.

New LDS functions -- greater flexibility

With the availability of the new 2x and 1.4x Alura Extenders, ALEXAs with a PL-LDS mount will recognize that such an extender has been installed on an LDS lens, or on a non-LDS lens used with the Lens Data Archive. The camera will record the properly re-calculated lens metadata values and show them on all numeric displays.

For greater flexibility, it is now possible to choose the source of the lens data -- either the encoders built into LDS lenses or CLM motor encoders with a Lens Data Archive table that can be customized to the user's specific demands.