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AMIRA Software Update Package (SUP) 4.0 shares many but not all of the new features of ALEXA Mini SUP 4.0, the most important of which for AMIRA shooters is the new Super 16 recording mode. Unique to AMIRA is the Multicam mode, refined with SUP 4.0, which provides an open interface for remote-controlling multiple AMIRA camera images across a network by using standard remote control panels.
ProRes S16 HD recording
Feedback from customers around the world has made it clear that there is widespread interest in using Super 16 format lenses with the AMIRA. In order to meet this demand, ARRI is introducing a ProRes S16 HD recording mode with AMIRA SUP 4.0.
The new mode takes a Super 16-sized crop from the sensor and scales it to a 16:9 HD picture in any ProRes codec. The image circle is 15.1 mm, which is slightly larger than the traditional Super 16 image circle of 14.5 mm. Many lenses designed for Super 16 will cover the new recording mode without any vignetting inside the image area, but testing is always advisable.
Super 16 optics are still widely available at rental houses and are generally underused. The new S16 HD recording mode will make economically priced, high-quality lenses available to AMIRA productions and also extend the return on investment from those lenses for the rental house.
Although the S16 HD mode is limited in image quality, due to the smaller sensor area and also the optical performance of the lenses themselves, it offers distinct advantages to various sectors of the industry. Sports productions are looking for smaller lenses, especially zooms with a better ratio of zoom range to size and weight than 35 mm can offer. Documentarians are keen to make use of lenses they know from having previously worked with the Super 16 format. In fact anyone shooting handheld -- for which the AMIRA is designed -- has a vested interest in working with the lightest and most compact lenses possible. In all such cases Super 16 lenses offer a cine-style alternative to EF mount stills photography lenses.
For TV series the factors of size, weight and cost are also relevant, but cinematographers will additionally find the new S16 HD format appealing for purely creative reasons. Working with vintage Super 16 lenses provides an opportunity to create looks that bring a sense of life and texture to the digital image in a totally organic way. Prime lenses such as the ARRI Ultra 16 series will be of particular interest for these productions, as they offer higher image quality than Super 16 zooms.
Besides allowing the use of Super 16 lenses, the S16 HD mode can also be used to effectively extend the focal length of 35 mm lenses by a factor of 1.8. For productions such as nature documentaries that work at long focal lengths, the advantages of getting a closer view of subjects will outweigh the compromise in image quality. Since the S16 HD mode can be activated quickly, it also provides a method of responding rapidly in situations where a longer focal length is required but there is insufficient time for a lens change. While the same effect would be achievable in post, many productions might not have the time or money in post to do it. The in-camera route also gives greater compositional control to the cinematographer and makes precise framing easier.
Available for all AMIRA models, the Multicam mode is an extremely attractive option for multi-camera shooting environments such as music concerts and live events, as well as TV soaps and other fast-paced scripted productions.
Essentially, Multicam is a simple and flexible interface that can be used with virtually any transmission system required. It allows the image parameters of multiple AMIRA cameras to be remote controlled using a Sony RCP (Remote Control Panel), including iris settings. Multi-camera setups can comprise AMIRAs only, or can combine AMIRA with other third-party cameras.
First introduced with AMIRA SUP 3.0, Multicam mode has been refined in SUP 4.0 and will continue to evolve in response to feedback coming in from the growing number of user applications.