In a stunning reveal, ARRI introduces the Alexa 65, a 6.5K 65mm large format video camera, making good on a rumor that surfaced way back before NAB 2014.
Several months ago, in the run-up to NAB 2014, we ran an article on a hot rumor, a 65mm update to ARRI's venerable Alexa workhourse cinema camera. Although the Alexa is well-renowned for the beautiful images it can produce, its sub-4K resolution left many to wonder when ARRI would revamp the Alexa. At NAB, no ARRI 65mm camera was seen.
Recently, ARRI boosted the capabilities of the ARRI Amira, the company's documentary camera, to output 4K by taking the open gate full 3.4K sensor read and upscaling from there. This results in fakey 4K but saves valuable time in post, as the video would be at resolution and ready to slide into a quick turn-around 4K timeline.
Today, however, we are happy to report that the ARRI 65mm camera is real and could be available for rent by the start of your next production.
Meet the ARRI Alexa 65
It turns out those early rumors of an ARRI 65mm camera weren't just a blogger's wild fantasy. The new ARRI Alexa 65 exists and its specs are jaw-dropping. The 6.5K sensor is actually larger than the frame of ARRI's 65mm film camera, or three times the area of a Super35 sensor. At full resolution (open gate, 6560 x 3102, 2.11:1), it will record video at a staggering rate of 2.6 terabytes an hour in ARRIRAW, onto the same Codex XR media used by the Alexa XT. There are two crop modes for 1.78 and 1.5:1, which will bring you down to 1.9 and 1.6 TB/h respectively, but there's no way around the fact that the Alexa 65 is a storage-hungry beast.
The Lens System
Of course, ARRI wouldn't release a new 65mm video camera without coming up with a lens system to match. Above, you can see ARRI's line of Hasselblad lenses designed specifically for the Alexa 65, including a 50-110mm Zoom 65 and eight Prime 65 lenses from 24mm to 300mm, all in XPL mount. The XPL is a new propreitary PL mount variant that, when joined with the ARRI Lens Data System, will allow the transmission of metadata about focus, iris and zoom, which can be used onset for wireless remote lens control or in post for the creation of accurate virtual lenses.
Real medium format video arrives
We've discussed the possible merits and issues of medium format video and whether it makes any sense. Well, it seems that when it's in the hands of ARRI, it makes a lot of sense. There isn't a manufacturer better equipped to pull off a 65mm professional video camera better than ARRI, as its Alexa has been the gold standard in cinematic imaging for years and it has a long history of making 65mm film cameras.
Fans of the Alexa XT can take heart that ARRI will continue to manufacturer and develop the Alexa XT for the foreseeable future. Its newfound big brother, the Alexa 65, will only be available for rent through ARRI Rental; no purchase options are planned, as it would likely cost as much as a Bugatti Veyron to own. Kidding aside, this is truly an exciting development for our industry and expect RedShark to bring you more on the Alexa 65 as the story develops.
Check out the full specs and ARRI Alexa 65 FAQ on Page Two!