ALEXA Mini SUP 5.0 features enhanced integration with the ARRI WCU-4, a comfortable and ruggedly built 3-axis wireless control unit
The ALEXA Mini has been wholeheartedly embraced by the worldwide film and television industry, and is used in many different configurations on all types of production. ALEXA Mini Software Update Package (SUP) 5.0, planned for release as a free download from mid-May this year, responds to user feedback and refines the feature-set still further. Meanwhile new hardware accessories improve the camera’s on-set versatility and efficiency.
SUP 5.0: WCU-4 INTEGRATION
In addition to the ARRI Look Library, one of the key advances of ALEXA Mini SUP 5.0 is enhanced integration with the ARRI WCU-4, a comfortable and ruggedly built 3-axis wireless control unit. Already widely used on ALEXA Mini sets, the WCU-4 will become an even more ideal companion with the new camera control features being introduced as part of SUP 5.0.
Wireless transfer of lens files
Previously, lens files of lenses mapped for use with the ARRI Lens Data System had to be manually transferred to the ALEXA Mini via a USB stick. Now, users can select a lens file stored on the SD card in their WCU-4 and – using just the hand unit – wirelessly transmit the file to the ALEXA Mini, saving time and effort.
Wireless lens file transfer is also useful in situations when setup times are short and the camera becomes inaccessible straight after a lens change, for example when rigged on a crane or car mount. The AC can mount the lens and then do the rest of the setup, from lens calibration to lens files transfer, remotely.
Wireless playback control
Full remote playback control is now possible from the WCU-4. This allows users to wirelessly select, play back and shuttle through any clip from the CFast 2.0 card in the ALEXA Mini without needing direct access to the camera, which again is useful when it is rigged in a hard-to-reach location. Both this feature and the wireless transfer of lens files will be made available to other ARRI cameras with future software upgrades.
Wireless user setups
SUP 5.0 extends the user setup feature of the ALEXA Mini, which allows all user- defined settings to be stored in a single file. Partial settings are now possible using five parameter groups, enabling more flexible and more specific control, and the camera can now store multiple different setups. Most importantly, these user setups can be wirelessly accessed and activated from the WCU-4, permitting ACs and drone operators to rapidly switch camera settings remotely, for example shifting from ProRes to ARRIRAW recording or activating various looks from ALEXA Mini’s internal ARRI Look Library.
SUP 5.0: EXT SYNC FOR MULTI-CAMERA SHOOTS
Another of the new features of ALEXA Mini SUP 5.0 is an EXT Sync function that allows the sensors and operational parameters of up to 15 ALEXA Mini cameras to be synchronized to a master ALEXA Mini. Slaves can assume parameters like the frame rate, shutter angle, or ND setup of the master camera, which also provides a status summary of all cameras. Facilitated by new cables and EDB-2 distribution boxes, EXT Sync simplifies the configuration and control of multi-camera 3D, VR and VFX applications in a way that permits the entire multi-camera setup to be operated as if it was one single camera.
SUP 5.0: OTHER FEATURES AND REFINEMENTS
The ALEXA Mini’s latest software update introduces numerous other new features and refinements.
Support for EF lenses has been increased in general with SUP 5.0. A much wider range of lenses is now supported, including control of focus and iris, and the use of image stabilizers. This will be of particular interest to gimbal and drone operators, who often use EF lenses due to their lower weight and who can now make mid-flight adjustments to focus and aperture with the WCU-4.
Support for the ARRI Master Grips has also been extended, with 3-axis control of ENG lenses and the option to configure Master Grip user buttons. The ability to adjust focus and iris of EF mount lenses using Master Grips opens up a very interesting package solution for documentary and handheld operators, who prefer smaller EF lenses due to their weight and cost.
Additional features include support of 1.3x anamorphic lenses, easier and more stable timecode synchronization, a new concept for handling user setups, support for WiFi infrastructure mode, multiple monitoring and display improvements, and better integration with the ARRI Electronic Control System.
ARRI AMIRA MULTICAM ENHANCEMENTS
The new AMIRA Software Update Package (SUP) 5.0 further refines the camera’s Multicam mode – a flexible, open interface for multi-camera broadcast applications.
Available for all AMIRA models, the Multicam mode makes the exceptional image quality of ARRI’s ALEV III sensor – also used by ALEXA – available to productions within the multi-camera broadcast sphere. Through a Multicam setup, the AMIRA’s shallow depth of field, unrivalled dynamic range and natural colorimetry can lend a cinematic look to live broadcasts, music concerts, TV soaps, and other fast-paced, multi-camera productions.
First introduced with AMIRA SUP 3.0, Multicam was refined in SUP 4.0 and will be further improved with some exciting new features coming in SUP 5.0. Uptake of the Multicam mode has been enthusiastic, reflecting an increasing demand for high quality imagery in the wider broadcast market. AMIRA Multicam shoots to date have included major US comedy shows, Broadway stage productions, fashion shoots for clients such as Balmain and Victoria’s Secret, TV talent shows, corporate events, and concerts with artists such as Beyonce, The Who, Pearl Jam, and many more.
At its core, Multicam is a simple and flexible interface that can be used with virtually any transmission system required. It allows the image parameters of multiple AMIRA cameras to be remote controlled using a Sony RCP (Remote Control Panel), including iris setting.
4K OUTPUT AT 60 FPS
The big new Multicam feature being introduced with SUP 5.0 is dual 6G UHD-SDI support, which improves the cameras’ SDI output data rate sufficiently to allow external 4K UHD recording at frame rates up to 60 fps. Many multi-camera broadcast productions prefer to record at 4K, even if the content will be down- converted for transmission. The increased spatial resolution is best shown off by also increasing the temporal resolution – upping the frame rate in order to reduce motion blur.
ANY TRANSMISSION SYSTEM
In order to accommodate customers who want to source as many elements as possible from one vendor, DTS transmission system components that have been optimized for AMIRA Multicam are available directly from ARRI sales centers. The fiber transmission system from DTS is an attractive solution because it is compact, has all the functionality required and offers good value for money. However, it is not the only transmission system that can be used.
AMIRA Multicam was designed from the outset to be as open and flexible an interface as possible. While the DTS components will suit many users, others may prefer to go with a different fiber solution, or a wireless radio transmission system. Since AMIRA Multicam is agnostic when it comes to a transmission pipeline, it will provide the same production benefits no matter which system is used to connect the cameras to the base station or CCU.
Here’s ARRI’s Markus Duerr introduces us to the improved options for AMIRA, including: multi-camera broadcast function, 4K output at 60 fps, pre-loaded LUT-based looks and more.
NEW ARRI LOOK LIBRARY
All ALEXA Mini and AMIRA Premium cameras shipped from May 1, 2017, will be priced to reflect the built-in Look Library, while cameras shipped before that date can acquire the feature as an upgrade once SUP 5.0 has been installed. ALEXA SXT cameras will also be able to utilize the Look Library with the release of SXT SUP 3.0.
By establishing a standardized repertoire of looks, the library makes it easier for cinematographers to work with looks on any production. Often there is no budget for extensive look development during preproduction, or not enough time in the final grade to create and work with numerous different looks. In situations like these, the ARRI Look Library will allow filmmakers to make creative look choices on set, giving all departments the opportunity to become familiar with the final intended looks and to work within them.
A defined vocabulary of looks, consistent across all ARRI cameras equipped with the Look Library, will reduce complexity for cinematographers while giving them a varied palette with which to experiment. Creative collaborations will be made easier – whether over large distances or between different units on the same production – and time savings facilitated in postproduction, since scene-specific or even shot- specific looks can be implemented long before the final grade.
The 87 looks have been developed by ARRI Media, ARRI’s postproduction and creative services business, based in Germany. Additional looks inspired by customer feedback are likely to be added to the library in the future, and users have the option to tweak looks using iPad-based tools such as Pomfort LiveGrade Air, thanks to the Camera Access Protocol feature of ALEXA SXT and – from SUP 5.0 – AMIRA and ALEXA Mini. Individual looks can be commissioned from ARRI Media for specific color spaces such as P3 or special requirements such as HDR.
ARRI Media has also created an accompanying free iPhone app that provides an overview of the library, giving users an easy way to explore possible looks whether they are on set, scouting locations, meeting with other heads of department or sitting at home.
Arnold & Richter Cine Technik (ARRI) is a global company within the motion picture media industry, employing around 1,300 staff worldwide. In 2017 ARRI is celebrating its centenary, having been founded in 1917 in Munich, Germany, where the headquarters is still located today. Other subsidiaries exist in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia.
The ARRI Group consists of five business units: Camera Systems, Lighting, Media, Rental, and Medical. ARRI is a leading designer and manufacturer of camera and lighting systems for the film and broadcast industry, with a worldwide distribution and service network. It is also an integrated media service provider in the fields of postproduction and equipment rental, supplying camera, lighting, and grip packages to professional productions. ARRI Medical focuses on the use of core imaging technologies for surgical applications.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized ARRI’s engineers and their contributions to the industry with 19 Scientific and Technical Awards.
For locations and more information please visit www.arri.com