Zhang Yimou: Before we started principle photography Stuart did tests and recommended the ALEXA 65 to me. I made the decision right after I learned about the camera. Later I found out that "The Great Wall" was the first film to be mainly shot with ALEXA 65. We planned to release the film in different formats, such as IMAX, 4K and 2K, which would benefit from ALEXA 65's large and high-resolution sensor. I believe high-end feature films should offer superior image quality over conventional content and that's something ALEXA 65 can definitely deliver.
Was it considered a risk, to be the first to use the system in this way?
SD: I spent almost a year observing the development of the ALEXA 65 and had shot tests with it at Shepperton, so it wasn't such a leap of faith. I came to realize, spending time with the development team, that although it's a brand new camera, it's based on ALEXA...It's not really a new camera system at all, it's an enhanced ALEXA, so I felt very comfortable in that way, as did all the post people.
One of the other things that gave me great confidence going to China with the ALEXA 65 was the support I was getting and knew I could rely on from ARRI. Obviously the development team and ARRI Rental were very keen that the camera performed well on its first major outing, so they sent two technicians with us for our preproduction camera setup and the first few weeks of shooting, and that was amazing. In fact we had very few technical issues...but having that level of support from ARRI gave me -- and the producers -- the confidence to take a small risk on a new camera.