ARRI Build Quality

Robust, Reliable, and Easy to Use

Over a century of experience, an obsessive attention to detail, and an intimate familiarity with the conditions on set have led to generations of ARRI film cameras that are robust, reliable, and simple to operate — all features that our digital cameras have inherited.

Robust and Reliable

Production is tough and cameras must function anywhere on, below, or above ground in all climatic conditions, day after day, shot after shot. To an ARRI engineer, reliability is a mission-critical, must-have quality that is a constant consideration during camera development. Some of the most obvious development choices in this regard are the extensive testing regime, the rugged and lightweight unibody design, the camera’s unique and powerful cooling system, and the firm mechanical connection of lens and sensor mount.

To assure that our cameras perform reliably on set, every component is tested exhaustively during development. In addition, each camera undergoes rigorous testing before it is shipped to a customer: on a vibrating plate, we simulate the mechanical stress of a thousand-kilometer truck ride on cobblestone streets — nothing is allowed to come loose or impair functionality. Directly after the vibration test, the cameras get transferred to thermal testing in a climate chamber where cameras are being cycled through different temperatures from -20°C to +45°C (-4° F to +113° F). While being heated up or cooled down, each camera undergoes a series of startup and recording tests to make sure they can perform even in the most extreme climates. You can see some of the tests performed during development here, or a video about the history of digital camera quality control at ARRI here.

Long Product Cycles

Times have changed; not only have we moved from analog to digital, but also the pace at which new products hit the market is increasing in the digital era. With ARRI’s legacy in mind, our digital cameras are built to last. Not only do we protect the investment of our customers by maintaining long product cycles, but we also invest great energy in internal testing to ensure longevity of our products.

Since we can upgrade a camera system with new software or electronics, the testing never really stops. Each software update undergoes a similar testing procedure which is only altered to incorporate and test new features with each release.

This continuous effort enables a camera from 2010 to maintain its quality even years after its market introduction. Our customers profit from this in two ways: as a camera owner, they can be assured a high resale value for their equipment; as a prospective buyer of second-hand equipment from ARRI, they can be sure that their investment is in proven camera gear that won’t let them down.

ALEXA’s Unique Cooling System

One of the most difficult and at the same time most critical faculties of a digital camera is its ability to cool the enormous processing power of a supercomputer unleashed in a small, lightweight, and portable housing. From the original ALEXA Classic EV to the ALEXA 35, ARRI's camera cooling concept has been continuously refined and improved to keep up with the heat generated by the continuously increasing processing power. Some things stayed the same, though: the camera's electronics are always safely sealed inside the housing and cooled through a separate ventilation shaft, so rain, coffee, or debris, which could get into the ventilation shaft, cannot get to the electronics, thereby rendering the camera splash and dust proof. Also, the sensor itself is actively cooled, a novelty in digital cinema cameras, but an important ingredient in consistently low image noise levels.

On ALEXA, for example, the heat generated by the sensor and the electronics is transported via heat pipes to a radiator located in a ventilation shaft at the back of the camera. A single, slow-running, super-silent fan cools the radiator. If need be, the fan can be easily exchanged.

The cooling for AMIRA, ALEXA Mini, and ALEXA Mini LF follows the same principle, with some improvements: Cool air is drawn from the camera’s surroundings, is fed through a ventilation-shaft via two fans, and exits on the side/back.

On ALEXA 35 the challenge was even greater: how to process nearly the same number of pixels as can be found in the ALEXA LF, but with additional features like ARRI Textures, Enhanced Sensitivity and an extra LUT, in a body the size of an ALEXA Mini LF? The solution was a further refinement of the unique ARRI camera cooling technique: the camera's center is a large ventilation shaft, around which the electronics boards cluster to transfer the heat from the processors directly into radiator fins reaching into the ventilation shaft. This eliminates the heat pipes for the electronics from the original cooling concept. A few lightweight heat pipes remain to cool the sensor itself. Unique materials and carefully fine-tuned geometries are coupled with a large fan that runs at low speeds, guaranteeing a large air volume, silent operation, and low weight.

Open Architecture

ARRI cameras are designed to be the best tool for capturing images and for moving those images from set to post. This requires more than just a camera, it requires a complete digital production system where all components mesh perfectly, including lenses, recording media, recording codecs, electronic accessories, mechanical accessories, batteries, and postproduction tools.

We have worked closely with a number of innovative companies such as Apple, cmotion, Codex, FUJINON, ZEISS, Cooke, and others to integrate their technologies. Through these efforts, from day one, ALEXA was compatible with many existing industry standards, lenses, accessories, and postproduction tools that were already well established all over the world.

In order to offer filmmakers more options on set, our camera systems are based on an open architecture and provide compatibility with third-party products. The cameras use UHD-SDI and HD-SDI for video transmission via cables with standard BNC connectors. On the power side we adapted both the Anton Bauer Gold mount and the V-lock standard for 12 V on-board batteries. Further advancements in technology made it necessary to switch to a 24 V system in ALEXA 35. Therefore, we introduced the 24 V B-Mount in 2022. B-Mount is a rugged, open industry standard for 24 V on-board batteries, and it is brand agnostic: the tech specs are published openly so every manufacturer is invited to provide B-Mount batteries and mounts or, otherwise integrate B-Mount into their ecosystem.

From set to post: to smooth the data’s way into postproduction we are open about our file format ARRIRAW and use Apple ProRes as a de-facto standard of the industry. For ALEXA Mini and AMIRA, we adopted MXF as the wrapper for ARRIRAW when writing to CFAST 2.0 cards. MXF-wrapped ProRes followed when Apple accepted MXF in addition to MOV-wrapped ProRes (SMPTE RDD 44: Mapping of ProRes into MXF). ALEXA Mini LF and ALEXA 35 write exclusively MXF-wrapped files.

To guarantee a smooth ARRIRAW workflow, we have been working tirelessly with third parties that have enrolled in the ARRIRAW Partner Program. Companies in the partner program receive advanced notification of changes in codecs, recording formats or image processing, to incorporate them early into their products. So, when your post house receives ARRIRAW clips from set, their tools will be able to understand and process ARRIRAW and ARRI Look Files.