Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, released Friday, marks the first production to use ARRI Rental’s Alexa 65 large-format digital camera system. Primarily shot with 35 mm film cameras by Academy Award winner Robert Elswit, ASC, the fifth installment of the successful blockbuster spy series features a major underwater sequence, which was captured with prototype Alexa 65 cameras in special HydroFlex housings by Pete Romano, ASC.
Elswit, Romano and their crew spent a month shooting the scenes in the underwater tank at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden in the U.K. earlier this year. “The sequence was done almost entirely with a virtual background, so it was important to get the best resolution for the best look,” explained Romano, who advocated for the Alexa 65 to maximize image quality for the heavy visual effects.
“We felt very privileged and excited to use the Alexa 65 on Rogue Nation,” said Rogue Nation’s visual effects supervisor David Vickery. “ It’s a real testament to ARRI’s confidence in their product that the 65’s first job was a very intensive and complex underwater sequence, which really put the cameras through their paces, yet we never had a single problem with either camera throughout the entire shoot. In postproduction the large format images we captured on the 28 mm and 35 mm Prime 65 wide angle lenses gave [visual effects facility] Double Negative the flexibility to push in up to 280% on the frame and still extract a sharp 2K plate, which we then treated to look like the anamorphic film stock that the rest of Rogue Nation had been shot on.”
The Alexa 65 workflow, developed with technology partner Codex and based on the Vault platform, consisted of ARRI Rental’s purpose-configured Vault S for on-set QC and local backup to 8 TB transfer drives. The transfer drives were then shuttled to Company 3 in Soho, London for processing out to full resolution, uncompressed ARRIRAW 65 mm format images by ARRI Rental’s high performance version of the Vault XL, the Lab 65, which was linked into Company 3’s dailies and archival infrastructure.
“… What I’ve really appreciated from working with the first two cameras is how dedicated ARRI and its technicians have been to making sure that the transition from R&D lab to the craziness of a real movie set was as seamless as possible,” said Romano. “The attention to detail was amazing. We had ARRI Rental representatives with us almost every day.”
ARRI reported that the Alexa 65 is being used on a number of other high-profile productions that are due for release in theaters over the coming months.