July 12, 2011

Arri releases Alexa Software Update 4

Arri has released the latest software update for its Alexa cameras. The Alexa Software Update Packet 4.0 provides new features and improvements for both the Alexa and Alexa Plus models.

The Alexa range is also expanding, with two more models due for release before the end of the year: the Alexa Studio, featuring an optical viewfinder and 4:3 sensor, and Alexa M, with a separate camera head for 3D applications and tight shooting environments.

The new software will allow users to apply a customized look to all Alexa outputs through an Arri Look File, which alters the way the camera image is converted to video colour spaces. For example Arri has designed a Low Contrast Curve Look File for those who do not want to deal with Log C but would like more dynamic range in a gradable video image.

There are also new SxS PRO card options, including the ability to playback audio. When playing back a clip, the audio is output as embedded audio on Rec Out, Mon Out, and as an analogue audio signal through the headphones jack. A new option to disable SxS recording switches off the compression and SxS boards inside Alexa but still outputs the HD-SDI record flag.

There is a new Auto White Balance option that can automatically determine the red/blue white balance and green/magenta CC values.

Anamorphic de-squeeze is the first Alexa feature to be enabled with the purchase of a license key, and allows images shot with 2x or 1.3x anamorphic lenses to be displayed in their proper aspect ratio on set, either in the viewfinder or on a monitor.

The new peaking focus check function makes it easier to determine if an area is in focus or not by highlighting everything that is in focus, either in the viewfinder or on a monitor.

The is also a false colour exposure check available in the viewfinder and the monitor output that will show accurate exposure levels for Log C images as well as Rec 709 and DCI P3.

Arri has also made fan improvements for hot shooting conditions, so that the Alexa will achieve silent running at ambient temperatures of up to +30°C with the fan set to ‘Regular’ mode. When it’s even hotter on set, ‘Rec Low’ mode runs the fan fast during standby to pre-cool the camera, but slowly and silently during recording.

There are also new image comparison options for the camera operator. Return In video has been enabled, allowing users to see a reference image such as a second camera feed or a previz image with VFX elements already added. In addition, a JPEG still image can be loaded from the SD card into the camera and displayed for comparison with the live image.

There are several new features of the update that are applicable only to the Alexa Plus: It will get Master/Slave lens motor control and 3D sync (so that the focus, zoom and iris on the slave camera lens precisely follows the lens on the master camera); Enhanced Lens Data System integration, so that LDS information can be displayed in the viewfinder or on the monitor, detailing the lens being used and its settings (non-LDS lenses can also be displayed if the lens profile has been added to the Lens Data Archive); and an electronic level or virtual horizon can be displayed on the monitor or in the viewfinder.

By David Fox


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