ARRI arrived at IBC 2011 with working prototypes of its highly anticipated ALEXA M and ALEXA Studio cameras, and announced that the first ALEXA M units have starting to ship to James Cameron and Vince Pace, co-chairmen of Cameron | Pace Group (CPG). CPG announced a strategic collaboration with ARRI at NAB 2011.
Based on new RAW image transmission technologies, the ALEXA M features the same sensor, image processing, build quality, efficient workflows and image quality as the ALEXA.
The front-end head of the ALEXA M transmits uncompressed RAW sensor data at around 18 Gbps to a back-end image processing and recording body using a hybrid fiber-optic cable that can also be used for powering the head. Weighing under 3 Kg, the ALEXA M head offers multiple mounting points and versatile maneuverability. The camera body provides all the image processing and recording options seen already in the standard ALEXA camera: images, sound and metadata can be recorded onto SxS PRO cards or external recording devices, offering many different workflows including the uncompressed ARRIRAW format.
CPG chairman James Cameron commented on the delivery of the first ALEXA M units, saying, “The ARRI team has been amazingly responsive to the needs of the 3D market by creating the ALEXA M. Cameron | Pace Group worked closely with them on the development of this important new camera, and we are proud to be the exclusive global distributor of the ALEXA M in its phase 1 rollout.”
“The success of 3D will be based on designing technology that supports the creative process of the filmmaker,” said CPG co-chairman Vince Pace. “We are excited about the ALEXA M towards that goal. The team at ARRI has brought to the industry a great step forward toward quality 3D.”
“The fiber optic technology that transports the RAW sensor data and camera control signals from and to the camera head, which can be placed at a distance of up to a kilometer from the image processing and recording body, allows for some unique and extremely innovative 3D camera applications,” said Franz Kraus, managing director of ARRI Munich. “We hope CPG will take full advantage of them in the months ahead.”
“Our focus now lies in collecting, collating, and folding back into the program the huge amount of feedback we hope to see from the CPG team during their use of the ALEXA M in 3D production environments,” Kraus added. “ARRI will also be integrating elements of CPG’s proprietary and patented 3D rig automation technology within the ALEXA M camera system, leading up to commercial launch and mass production of the ALEXA M early in 2012.”
While the ALEXA M is tailored for action and aerial photography, tight corner shots and 3D productions, the ALEXA Studio is the flagship camera of the range. Like the ARRICAM Studio, it is equipped with a quiet, adjustable mirror shutter and an optical viewfinder, giving operators a real-time, high-resolution, high-contrast image with true colors.
Another key feature of the ALEXA Studio is its 4:3 sensor, which gives it true anamorphic capability. Anamorphic lenses create a unique look that has been appreciated by directors and cinematographers for over half a century, and cannot be created in post.