ARRI Rental launched its new Alexa 65 camera system earlier this week in front of a packed audience of ASC members and key Hollywood figures at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Los Angeles. The system, comprising camera, lenses and a complete image workflow, will be available to productions from January 2015.
Harking back to the golden age of 65 mm widescreen filmmaking, the Alexa 65 camera is a scaled-up version of an Alexa XT, equipped with a sensor slightly larger than a 5-perf 65 mm film frame that is able to capture an uncompressed ARRIRAW 65 mm image.
“Following the success of the Alexa we wanted to build a camera for the most demanding applications in filmmaking and envisioned a true 65 mm format camera, sharing as many of the technology and imaging attributes of Alexa as possible,” explained ARRI managing director Franz Kraus. “The dynamic range and colorimetry are retained, but to these is added a far greater capacity for capturing fine detail. Our goal was simple – to meet and surpass the image quality of 65 mm film.”
Collaboration with key technology partners IB/E Optics and Codex has enabled the company to offer a complete large-format workflow for high-end theatrical motion pictures, incorporating custom-designed prime and zoom lenses, and fast, efficient workflow tools.
The 50-110 mm Zoom 65 and the eight Prime 65 lenses, ranging from 24 to 300 mm, utilize high-performance, Fujinon-manufactured optics from Hasselblad HC lenses, re-housed in new lens barrels co-developed with IB/E Optics. Equipped with ARRI’s Lens Data System (LDS), the lenses permit frame-accurate metadata about focus, iris and zoom settings to be recorded with the image stream, aiding both on-set shot-making and visual effects tasks in post. In addition, a Vintage 765 lens range – originally developed to partner the ARRIFLEX 765 65 mm film camera – has been adapted for use with the Alexa 65. These lenses provide a classic filmic look with a gradual, soft roll-off across the frame.
ARRI Rental has worked closely with Codex to create a workflow capable of processing full resolution ARRIRAW 65 mm images while concurrently generating high quality ProRes 4444 HD dailies masters in real time.
At the launch event attendees were able get their hands on the camera, capturing and processing footage for themselves. Close analysis of uncompressed images and the screening of a variety of technical and creative show reels demonstrated the fidelity and flexibility of the Alexa 65’s large capture format.
“It’s a breakthrough in the technology of acquisition,” said visual effects supervisor and cinematographer David Stump, ASC. “I have always held that for digital technology to succeed in cinema, it needed to meet or exceed the capabilities we have with film. I think we have reached that day.”
“Somehow with this camera, it seems to open the door to something different – a new dimension where you replace noise or grain by a clarity which is not harsh or sharp,” said cinematographer Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC. “It is not video, it is not HD. It is beyond that, so you can reach the audience. It gives a kind of surplus of truth.”
The Alexa 65 will be available exclusively through ARRI Rental, a global network of ARRI equipment rental facilities.