Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Alexa Studio Camera

Republished with permission from www.definitionmagazine.com

Today Arri complete the programme of three ALEXA cameras that they announced back in 2009. The original ALEXA followed by the ALEXA Plus and now ALEXA Studio. ALEXA Plus was announced at
last year’s IBC in Amsterdam. The Plus is a ‘back to Arri dealership’ mod to the ALEXA and Arri have reported that 70% of Alexa owners have chosen to upgrade.

Now there is a new ALEXA, the Studio. (Differentiated in a similar way that the ArriCAM and ArriCAM Studio are). Arri are quick to underline that ALEXA is their platform, one that will be improved upon as and when the technology allows. The new family member is the one that many have been waiting for, the one with the optical viewfinder. The Studio’s optical viewfinder system, Arri say, will pass the performance of the ArriCAM and in fact any that Arri has made up to now. The complexity of producing a rotating mirror shutter system in a digital environment is why there aren’t many around, the only other is on the Arri’s D21 system.

With ALEXA Arri are trying to mirror their film camera logistics. You have ArriCAM Studio, ArriCAM Light, 435, and 235. All these cameras work on a typical feature film but do different things. They are used differently but produce inter-cuttable images. With the three ALEXAs Arri want a similar situation. Products differentiated on functionality not so much on basic performance. The picture quality remains the same. Of course on the Studio camera you can do anamorphic but with 16:9 you may have a Studio for a well controlled environment, a Plus on the shoulder and grab shots with the ALEXA.

The Studio then will have the new optical viewfinder and a 4:3 sensor with the total pixel count is 3392 x 2200 (27.98 mm x 18.15 mm). The active pixel count is 2880 x 2160 (23.76 mm x 17.82 mm).

The sensor is the same as the previous ALEXA cameras but in that camera the signal processing only deals with the 3-perf part, 16:9 area, the top and bottom of that area are not used and not powered. The Studio’s signal processing goes beyond that to include the rest of the sensor and so the camera will be more power thirsty.

ALEXA Studio will have the same recording capabilities with the SxS the same as with the other two models, also for RAW and uncompressed.

Arri hope that there will be a working prototype of ALEXA Studio in the autumn of this year, perhaps IBC. The price of the Studio will be more than the Plus in the region of EURO90,000 which is less than the proposed price back in 2009 which was around EURO130,000.

The processing of the Studio with the ALEXA’s original dual path approach and full sensor path mixed with the 21st Century answer to optical viewfinders is at the heart of this new camera design.

Arri has been true to their word as far as schedules are concerned and now we just have to wait and see how good Studio is.

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