Arri Alexa--first impressions at DVinfo.net

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Old July 31st, 2010, 04:54 AM   #1
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Arri Alexa--first impressions

I had the opportunity to shoot with the Alexa these last two days on the new ABC series "No Ordinary Family". I'm shooting the double-up unit (for those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to extra days tacked on to the end of the shooting schedule for an episodic series--since the schedule is built around a specific number of days for each episode, an additional unit is created to shoot at the same time as the main unit who move on to start the new episode. It's different from a second unit in that the double-up unit is shooting full-on scenes with the complete cast--effectively it's like having two first units).

We were on stage for these particular two days so the lighting was completely controlled, but I had plenty of strong highlights such as hot windows, sun patterns and practicals, all of which needed to present the appropriate amount of "heat" to look real. The tonal rendition of the camera was excellent, the dynamic range was impressive and the pictures are extremely pleasing. Using the Technicolor DP Lights system, my DIT could dial in LUT's via color correction control surface greatly sped up the "dialing in" process.

I have yet to put my eye in the eyepiece--I hear it's not the best--but the camera is built solidly, has easy compatibility with many existing accessories and is relatively lightweight.

None of this is really news, but suffice to say that the F35 has been dislodged as my top-end HD camera of choice...!
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Old July 31st, 2010, 09:13 AM   #2
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Thanks for the report from the front lines, Chas!
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Old July 31st, 2010, 11:21 AM   #3
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Charles, a couple of questions if I may.

1. Was the eyepiece on the camera you were using the electronic or the optical? I know you said you didn't look through it, but I was just wondering which version was on the show.

2. Are you shooting to ARRIRAW or to ProRes for the show. I am wondering if network broadcast is embracing RAW or if that workflow is still primarily the domain of film.

3. I hear the dynamic range of the camera is spectacular (and have seen the tests), but did the camera look as "clean" as others you've used? I know the RED has more resolving ability but it seems a tradeoff between the two cameras in terms of dynamic range and resolution.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old July 31st, 2010, 08:23 PM   #4
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We have the EVF's, which I believe are the only ones available so far. I have yet to put my eye in them but I was told by the operators that they are not fantastic (although many operators are still comparing EVF's to the gold standard of optical eyepieces, so I'll post my comparison to others such as the RED once I've had my turn).

We are recording ARRIRAW to external recorders at the DIT station.

The camera's image is as good as I've ever seen. I would personally trade dynamic range and overall image quality for 2K+ resolution if I had to make the choice.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 12:24 AM   #5
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Awesome, thank you. What lenses are you guys shooting? I'd imagine Arri would be eager to provide something like ultra-primes, but I don't know how many of them are around.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 12:02 PM   #6
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Each camera has the Optimo 24-290, plus we have the 15-40 and the 30-80 Rouge, also a set of Ultra Primes.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 12:23 PM   #7
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Those Optimo's are EVERYWHERE. Seems like no one uses anything other than those and the Pana's for zooms.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 12:38 PM   #8
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Well, in the PL world, Angeniuex is really the first name in modern zoom lenses, while Arri and Cooke have focused on primes. Actually Arri has announced two new lightweight zooms (the Alura series) which will be interesting but I haven't seen them yet.

I am interested in testing some of the older lenses like the Cooke 10-1 on cameras like the Alexa to see what kind of look they deliver.

Of course, for a Panavision show it's going to be Primo zooms.
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