Arri has announced a new control panel at IBC for its Amira and Alexa Mini cameras. They also showcased firmware 3.0 for their cameras which, among other things adds new high & low end recording codec features in the form of MPEG 2 and ProRes 4444 XQ. Arris camera all adhere to a very simply and easy to use menu system (probably the easiest I’ve used). On the Amira and Alexa Mini the menu and screen can be found on the side of the viewfinder. The problem with this? You have to buy the viewfinder in order to operate either camera (physically, Arris new app allows you to control camera wirelessly with a the same interface). As a fairly regular user of the Amira I think this the viewfinder is one of it’s weaker features. Similar to old school broadcast cameras there’s a certain ‘sweet spot’ where if the angle of your eye is not quite right, it’s hard to gauge whether you are in focus. Third party systems like the Zacuto Gratical HD and SmallHD 502 offer a much crisper, feature rich option for monitoring. However adding another viewfinder/monitor to your existing Arri system can be counter productive, particularly if you’re trying to keep things compact (Alexa Mini owners). Enter the Arri Control Panel. This is exactly the same as the panel found on the side of the Arri viewfinder (minus the viewfinder). This saves you cost and real estate with doubling up on viewfinders; buy the one that suits you best and get the Control Panel separately. Of course this will also work in other ways (the way Arri will have no doubt originally intended it), it will remove the Control Panel from the operators side for the AC to on the dumbside (like the full size Alexa). The device is tethered via a cable and will cost in the region of €2,600. Check out Newsshooters video from IBC at the Arri booth: We can see firmware 3.0 in use here, it brings an interesting feature in the form of an intervalometer for timelapsing but most important is the additions of two new recording codecs. MPEG2 in an .mxf wrapper is now supported, working well in an XDCAM environment or original Canon C300 workflow. This means the Arri cameras now support a highly compressed (by Arri standards) option should you require a bit more quantity over quality. If you’re in favour of quality however, firmware 3.0 also brings in ProRes 4444 XQ support. This is a high quality codec supporting up to 16 bits in color information. A target rate of 500 Mbps for 4:4:4 sources at 1920×1080 and shooting at up to 120fps in HD and 60P in UHD. via/ NewsShooterRead more
I want to share with you 8 points to keep in mind when choosing a cinema camera. There is no such thing as the perfect camera, and today more than ever it’s about picking the right tool for the job according to the features you need and the budget you have. Survival of the Fittest The digital cinema revolution spans arguably over a decade of large sensor technological innovation and evolution. I fell in love the day I saw the first 4K DALSA Origin camera at NAB in 2003, so that’s already 12 years ago. There is much to be said about the history of the technology we have all come to know, love and rely on for our livelihoods, livelihoods many of us have thanks to the industrial upset and disruption these technologies have caused. What’s of even more interest to most of us is where the technology is headed. Those who apply a bit of strategic foresight can get ahead of the game, and ahead of the pack. While many of us envision ourselves as cinematic mastermind auteurs, just waiting for that breakthrough that will propel us into the limelight. The truth is most of us are battling each other every day for a edge that will win us run of the mill production work, corporate films and weddings. Disruptive technology has been, and will continue to erode the hourly or daily market value of the average working freelance or self-employed cameraman/editor. You are not your camera Let’s face it; there is a huge difference between the work the vast majority of us do to pay the bills, and the work of the Hollywood cinematographers that inspire us so much. This difference is a complex combination of experience, knowledge (think lighting knowledge especially), creativity, industry contacts, and also technology. Each one of these variables has the potential to give you an edge above your competition. While a camera does not define or guarantee success; it is a platform on which you can build. If you choose technology that is on a strategic and forward thinking trajectory, you’ll stay ahead of the curve when it comes to taking your experience and creativity to the edge and beyond no matter what you shoot. When it comes to deciding where to invest when it comes to camera equipment, it’s important to see beyond the shiny packaging and tech specs. It’s not enough to place your faith purely in the court of public opinion either. By all means, spend time on forums, read reviews and study specifications. But that alone is not enough. We all know who the players are. We follow the every move of Red, Arri, Blackmagic Design, Sony, Canon, Panasonic, and relative newcomers such as Kinefinity and AJA. There is more choice when it comes to large sensor cinema grade cameras now than ever before. Not all cameras are created equal, and not all who run the race will win. The fact is, these manufacturers are creating tools for us, and so we, and our work, our needs define the environment that determines their fate. Those best equipped to survive in our environment are more likely to survive and evolve. Beyond surviving, those who show true innovation can thrive, and in fact exert their own force on the environment itself. 1. Workflow A camera cannot be considered alone, it’s part of a bigger picture that exerts influence over, and is at times limited by post production processes, and so post workflow must also be taken into account. Manufacturers who acknowledge, and embrace this fact are already a step ahead of the others. 2. Gimmick vs Innovation Are three legs better than two? Or four? Clearly not if winning the race is the objective, and as an analogy, a camera built and brought to market with three legs is not going to last very long in the face of two, or four-legged competition. Gimmick should not be mistaken for innovation. A sure sign that a manufacturer has lost touch with the market is a camera that intends to change the tried, true and accepted norms for its use without good reason, or without following some other major change that is taking place. Innovation on the other hand is change introduced for good reason, or based on projected insight. Cameras do and should evolve, and while some new ideas may invoke resistance at first, good ideas will find acceptance even if it takes time. 3. Who’s at the head of the pack? One place where you can look to the industry at large is to answer the question who are the front runners? Quite often the answer is obvious, what are the biggest shows and films being shot with? The answer is Arri and Red, and to a certain extent 35mm film is still holding a spot at the top. So then ask yourself, what are they doing right? What are they up to? What are the trends at the top? 4. 4K and beyond. The age of 4K and above has well and truly arrived, that goes without saying. It’s been coming slowly but surely for many years now. Even if you are still delivering HD, I would argue your acquisition should be 4K at least, and there are viable options that fit all but the smallest budgets. 5. RAW To RAW or not to RAW? While RAW is certainly not right for every job, I would argue it is something you want at your disposal. Again, money is not an excuse anymore to be buying a camera that can’t shoot RAW in camera, or accommodate RAW in an external recorder. When considering cameras that don’t come standard with in-camera RAW recording, ask yourself why? Why am I being required to buy an extra piece of kit? Or look higher up the model line-up for features that should now be standard across the board? The answer is you shouldn’t and you don’t have to. 6. Look closely at the model line-up The manufacturers that have a long model line-up to maintain should be asking themselves serious questions. That worked when choices were few and prices were high, but the reality now is quite the opposite. As an example look at the situation Sony is in with the FS7, F5 and F55. As firmware updates bring the capabilities and features of the “lower-end” cameras closer to their more expensive brothers, the case for shelling out a lot more of your hard earned cash on the F55 instead of the F5, or the F5 instead of the FS7 starts to look thinner. 7. Bleeding edge trends Looking beyond the cutting edge to what’s really pushing boundaries right now can tell you where things may well be headed for all of us in the future. Sensors are getting bigger. I believe a trend we will see starting now from the players right at the top is a move well beyond super 35mm, beyond full frame, to 65mm. I know DP’s that are already starting to buy up medium format glass and have it re-housed for cinema use. Arri broke ground with the announcement of the Alexa65, and we’ve recently seen that there is a new range of Hawk 65mm anamorphic lenses announced. This is right at the cutting edge, and will not trickle down from the top overnight, but I believe it will happen in time. 8. Ergonomics and Upgradability More than just counting pixels, the demand today is for modularity and ergonomics. These are important aspects to keep in mind when weighing up performance and price of a cinema camera. Is there an upgrade path for the camera? If so does it require sending the camera back to the manufacturer in the case of Red, or can you upgrade the camera yourself like the URSA? Are you locked into the camera as it is, or are there modules that can be added or removed to build the camera for different situations? A camera should work well for you the way you want to work, and this is where things get subjective. Be realistic about your needs, will a larger, heavier camera body suit you, where the laws of physics and inertia give you some extra stability and smooth out vibrations in your shots. Do you work mostly on a head and legs, or do you work far more handheld? Do you work alone or have a camera assistant and focus puller on most of your shoots? A larger camera that suits a larger crew may not work so well for you alone. Of course this is not always the case. Each camera is different, menus and screens are in different places with different levels of accessibility. There is no one-size fits all solution We all have different needs, and thankfully no two cameras I can think of are the same. Each has unique pros and cons, but the important thing is that it’s not just about what’s hot right now. When choosing a cinema camera it’s about seeing beyond… where is all this headed, not only where the demand is right now in terms of the services you provide, but where will the demand be in two years time. What creative opportunities will this technology open up? How can I get in there first? The answers are right there between the lines for anyone willing to dig just a little deeper behind what’s making the news headlines. Look for patterns and notice trends. The next time you find yourself blindly comparing specs, or being swayed by opinion on camera forums, try to keep in mind a clear picture of where the technology is headed, and which manufacturers are truly, honestly innovating, moving in a forward trajectory to bring you better tools in the long run.Read more
Last week we took a close look at the AMIRA, the newest camera by Arri that is aimed at serious “documentary style” shooters, with a focus on ergonomics and incorporating the famous sensor from the more expensive and more heavy ALEXA camera. This week I’d like to share my experience shooting the live music video for Sophie Abraham we recently created with the Arri AMIRA. This production was executed very spontaneously, without pre-production and a crew consisting of myself and 1-2 assistants, all quite literally in the “documentary style” spirit which the AMIRA is promoted for. A little more time and planning would have helped to make the shots more consistent, but we couldn’t afford that as there was no budget for this test video. A great chance to put the camera into a stressful shooting situation. Note that not only video, but also audio was recorded directly in camera. We used minimal lighting (1x Arri 1200W HMI, 2 Dedolights with 1 gobo projection lens (background stripes)). The video was shot in 2 (half) shooting days. Weight vs. Ergonomics As mentioned in our video review (part 1) weight can be an issue as the AMIRA with its 5kg weighs a lot more than other super35mm sensor cameras like the FS700 or the C300. This also forces you to use heavier accessories. For the music video I used 4 V-mount batteries and a charger which got me through the (half) day, 4 Zeiss CP2 lenses 21mm, 35mm, 50mm macro and 135mm, a dolly (Camdolly) and the Sachtler Cine 7+7 tripod. These were all great accessories, but they are all a class more expensive and more heavy than the basic stuff you can use with the alternative cameras mentioned. For example I could not use a basic slider or a small tripod as they would both collapse underneath the camera. Working with more advanced and more heavy tools however also adds steadiness and smoothness to the shots as you may know. The Camdolly we used is a very modular and comparably lightweight and affordable (about $4000) dollying tool that you can even setup to sit on with your camera as it carries up to 200kg. For our purpose sliding the camera was enough and setup time was very quick. It took about 3 minutes to move from one shot to the next. Still, the Camdolly box and all the other boxes cannot be carried by one person. You should keep in mind you need a crew of at least 2 or 3 people to shoot with the AMIRA plus accessories. On the shoulder Of course, when you only plan on using the camera on your shoulder then all you need is the single box the camera comes in, sufficient V-mount batteries and your lens(es). This can ideally all go into two normal flight cases and can be carried by a single person. Also handheld is where the Arri AMIRA really shines. I complemented the ergonomic design in the video review and I must say again, that having the Arri AMIRA on the shoulder is wonderful. The sliding adjustments, no setup time, the nice OLED EVF and the convenient user buttons and switches on the side make for an experience a cameraman like myself won’t forget. I could have carried it on my shoulder all day and I’m looking forward to working with the camera again on a shoulder-only project. I hear Arri is already working on additional accessories and upgrades to make the camera even more perfect for shoulder work. As a handheld setup I used the Vocas handgrips on a pair of fibre rods and an MFF-1 follow focus. Lenses for Handheld I only used CP2 primes and I especially felt the Zeiss CP2 50mm macro lens added a lot to this shoot as the look, sharpness and macro possibilities are really convincing. I worked on a second project with the Amira and took the chance to try working with bigger lenses (PL zooms) on the shoulder and I must note that for me they made the camera too heavy and out of balance. This is why I’m very much looking forward to the interchangeable EF-mount option Arri is working on (no release date yet). I imagine having the option to use EF zoom lenses will make the camera even more easy to use for my purposes and provide sufficient quality. The assistant’s LCD I was very happy to have a smallHD field monitor at hand, because for me the flip-out LCD was not a good option for controlling my shots. It just felt I “didn’t see everything”. The LCD as mentioned in the video review is prone to ghosting and thus contrast is lost during motion. This is why I call this LCD the “assistant’s LCD” as I think its main purpose is not for shooting, but rather to observe your framing and control the menu. The smallHD DP6 was sitting on a solid camera EVF support that works very well also with bigger field monitors. The only thing missing was a longer SDI cable that I didn’t have at hand. Sound We recorded sound directly from the two high quality Schoeps CMC 5 we had, into the phantom powered XLR’s of the camera. The AMIRA has a normal headphone jack and the controls for sound are on the other side. Each of the 4 channels can be adjusted individually and there are audio level indications on the side and inside the EVF so I could always keep an eye on them. Workflow Basically the workflow was as simple as the rest of the camera, similar to the Alexa workflow as it is described here. When a card is full the camera switches to the second slot. There’s no finalizing footage, ejecting or any of the hassle. You just take out the card and offload the ProRes to your computer and backup. I could easily get through the day with two 120GB cards without ever offloading. I shot everything in Apple ProRes 4444 with the Log C curve. Editing Back on my editing machine (Still using good old Final Cut 7) editing ProRes 4444 natively is a breeze on most current computers and very straight forward to work with. After locking my editing I went into DaVinci Resolve 10 for color correction, which I can only recommend to anyone who hasn’t yet started to use this great app. Exporting from Final Cut via XML gives me my whole timeline and even zoom adjustments right within DaVinci. I love using filmconvert as a starting point for my grades, and DaVinci is the perfect host application for that. The filmconvert OpenFX plugin (10% off with code “cinema5D”) unlike the standalone is very stable and in connection with the crisp and organic AMIRA footage produces stunning results that I only need to tweak lightly. This is how grading is fun. ISO and noise For this project I mostly (about 95%) shot ISO 3200 on the AMIRA as I used a lot of natural light in the location and also wanted to see how far the sensor can be pushed. There were a few shots where the noise, even though it looks very filmic, was too much for my tastes. Luckily I could easily remove that noise within Davinci, but of course it did water down the quality of my shots a little. Concluding I must say the AMIRA seems like it does quite ok under low lighting conditions. There are other cameras though where sensor technology is already more advanced in terms of lowlight though. What I really liked about the AMIRA was that the sensor produces a very very even level of noise. Many other cameras have extremely bad noise in the blacks, so once you underexpose you can forget your shots. The AMIRA really records your shots reliably and you’re able to push them a little without worrying. Final words Working with the Arri AMIRA was quite a good experience. There have been numerous cameras I was not so fond of, but this one had a lot for me. Maybe it’s my personal shooting style and maybe it’s not the right tool for you, but if the price is not an obstacle then it seems this camera does attract the attention of shooters from quite a diverse range of fields. The camera isn’t flawless, especially the weight is the biggest point to consider on every shoot as it can define your whole production size. For me the (still) lacking EF mount option is something that would hold me off on working with the camera again right away and the flip-out LCD could be improved, which Arri will surely do on the next iteration of the Arri AMIRA camera. In terms of an overall shooting experience the ergonomics of the Arri AMIRA had me totally convinced and it was just a pleasure to work with from start to finish. Now I’ve said enough good things and if you have the chance it’s up to you to go out and try this camera yourself. Note that the video compression of vimeo really doesn’t do justice to this camera. See the above still frame (graded) in full to observe the nice quality of the sensor. The difference between the original file and the compressed video online unfortunately is like night and day… You might want to download the compressed source file for a better experience here: vimeo.com/96921772 Thanks again to the very talented young cello artist Sophie Abraham who participated in this camera test and contributed her musical genius. You can find more of her music on her website: www.sophie-abraham.com Where to buy? In the US area you can get the Arri AMIRA at Abel Cine Tech: Basic version: $35,468 US BUY LINK ProRes 422, rec709, 100fps, HD Advanced Version: $39,499 US BUY LINK ProRes 422 (HQ), Log C, 200fps Premium Version: $45,025 US BUY LINK ProRes 4444 and 2K In Europe you can get the Arri AMIRA at AF Marcotec: Basic version: 25,980€ EU BUY LINK ProRes 422, rec709, 100fps, HD Advanced Version: 28,980€ EU BUY LINK ProRes 422 (HQ), Log C, 200fps Premium Version: 32,980€ EU BUY LINK ProRes 4444 and 2K Availablity? The Arri AMIRA is shipping now. More about the Arri AMIRA on the official website. CREDITS Musical performance – SOPHIE ABRAHAM filmmaking – SEBASTIAN WÖBER special thanks to MAX HOFSTÄTTER CAMILLO CIBULKA GERHARD WEINER ROBI FAUSTMANN CAROLINA STEINBRECHER JOHNNIE BEHIRI NINO LEITNER JULIA WESELY JULIA LÖSCHLRead more
Arri’s announcement of the AMIRA back in September at IBC raised a few eyebrows. With every major camera manufacturer pushing 4K acquisition through their flagship lines, Arri announces a brand new camera capable of recording at a maximum 2k. With a price range up in the air, it wasn’t clear just where this would sit in the market (although with a name tag like Arri, most of us had a pretty good idea). This morning, Europe retailer CVP has just revealed a 3 tier pricing system for the AMIRA. The AMIRA is an ALEXA on a strict diet, it shaves off nearly half its weight and girth, loses it’s raw abilities and is designed for single user operation; this is evident by the rotation of the controls on the operating side (the ALEXA utilizes the better known dumb side for it’s primarily configuration for ease of use with an assistant). I attended a local presentation of the AMIRA hosted by Arri, to see what the camera was like first hand and to understand the reasoning behind Arris investment in another sub 4K camera. Their answer to the latter was simple – 4K output is still in a very premature state, it will be years before it’s properly implemented into the public domain. 4Ks current best use is to improve Full HD acquisition, by form of sampling, downscaling and correction. This is why Arri chose Full HD/2K as the resolution choice for the AMIRA, which in parallel with the pricing and ergonomics gives you a good idea of where they want this to sit in the market. Arri are targeting TV broadcast, specifically drama and documentary where a lighter footprint than the ALEXA is required; I’m sure as a result the AMIRA will out price many people’s realistic wish list. With that said, here are CVP’s pricing tiers. As these are initial prices, I predict them to be lower by the time they come to market, specifically the US market (with them being European prices). Arri AMIRA package 1 – €25,980 Arri AMIRA package 2 – €28,980 Arri AMIRA package 3 – €32,980 Click on below thumbnails to enlarge. In a brief summary, the initial tier offers an AMIRA package capable of shooting ProRes 422 up to 100FPS. The second tier extends the FPS to 200, with the addition of the unlimited looks functions, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and ProRes 422 HQ and Log-C capture. The third tier provides up to 2K resolution capture in ProRes 4444, and import of custom 3D LUTs. For a summary on the specification of the AMIRA, please visit our initial article from IBC. In addition to this, I can confirm Arri are planning an in-field removable lens mount with PL, Canon EF and 2/3″ (via glass adaptor) compatibility.Read more
IBC 2013, the second-largest show for filmmaking and broadcasting technology in the world, is drawing to a close. Like at NAB, Teradek streamed a lot of great insightful interviews with industry people about various topics on their website, and they are putting them up online afterwards for anyone to see.Read more
With the announcement of Arri’s new and intriguing handheld camera, the “Amira”, we also saw a new memory technology that has been integrated into it. CFast 2.0. Basically CFast 2.0 is just an extremely fast new CF card standard which has been introduced by the CompactFlash association last year and apparently SanDisk is the first company to come out with this technology. The 120GB1 SanDisk Extreme Pro CFast 2.0 memory card is the world’s fastest memory card, with read speeds of up to 450MB/s2 (3000X) for maximum workflow efficiency and write speeds up to 350MB/s2 (2333X) for faster recording performance. This certainly makes our superfast 1000x Komputerbay cards feel obsolete, but considering that the new Arri Amira will record 200fps of ProRes 4:4:4 in 2K makes it understandable that fast CF memory is needed. The first CFast card will hold 120GB of data and there’s no word on pricing yet. The company is also stretching the limits of storage with their newly announced 256GB UDMA7 CF card that is coming in October. via engadgetRead more
Arri just announced a run-and-gun camera that seems to fulfill every documentary filmmakers dream. A complete “compact” working tool with Arri Alexa quality, slow motion capabilities, zoom control and no setup time working right out of the box. You could think of it like an old fashioned video camera that had all the ergonomics and versatility laid out for fast one-man poduction, be it a documentary film or news gathering or old fashioned home videos. Here’s a complete solution that brings back all these qualities but made for “cinema” grade results made by the most reliable camera manufacturer of our time. This is an exciting product, so exciting we know it’s going to cost a lot more than most of us could afford. This is definitely a rental camera, not like a 650D you’ve got lying around in your equipment drawer. This is a serious cinema camera, not only for its sensor design, but also because it brings what the Arri Alexa provided: the ergonomics, quality and workflow that helps filmmakers make the best images possible. In terms of workflow Arri integrated “CFast 2.0” which is an in-camera CF memory slot with super-quick data rates. CFast 2.0 is an open format said to deliver a fantastic price-performance ratio through incredible transfer speeds, long recording times and compatibility with standard IT tools. Costs per GB are brought down and higher-than-broadcast-quality image pipelines are made available even to low budget productions. Here are the key features of Arri’s new Amira: • Ready to pick up and shoot straight out of the camera bag. (including startup) • creative liberation through functional, user-friendly design. • same amazing sensor as Arri Alexa. • records HD 1080 or 2K (with 4K imager). • 14 stops (clean!) dynamic range. • up to 200fps. • ProRes LT, 422, 422HQ or 444 codecs. • Integrated, motorized ND filters. • peaking, false color, zebra. • OLED viewfinder with extendable LCD on the side. • comes with a number of preloaded 3D LUT-based looks for fast grading. And here’s a sentence from the press-release concerning durability that just has to be quoted: AMIRA is a highly durable product constructed of the strongest possible materials. Sealed electronics provide top-level protection against humidity and dust, while an integrated thermal core results in highly efficient cooling. Productions can take AMIRA anywhere, from jungles and deserts to snow-capped mountain tops, sure in the knowledge that it will not let them down. There are many productions this product is perfectly tailored to. You can be sure this camera will take the video and cinema production world by storm.Read more
We only send updates about our most relevant articles. No spam, guaranteed! And if you don't like our newsletter, you can unsubscribe with a single click. Read our full opt-out policy here.