Surprising update as Arri Amira gets XDCAM Compatibility

Written by Freya Black

arri / redsharkArri Amira

The ARRI Amira has a strange new feature that might seem odd at first but that actually makes very good sense and could prove unexpectedly useful

One advantage of having solid and very capable and established camera firmware like that in the Alexa and Amira is that once you have all the basic functionality covered, you can start to add more esoteric features.

To that end ARRI has announced that they are making available an update to provide MPEG2  MXF capability to the Amira. Now that may seem a bit strange given that this is 2015 but Arri are promising 100% full compatibility with Sony's XDCam format which means it will fit in very nicely with a lot of  existing workflows in the television market. These days even Sony themselves have moved on to XAVC but the older XDCam format has the significant advantage of being a very established and well understood standard. It's also computationally easier to implement in the camera than MPEG4 codecs so there is less worry about in terms of heat and noisy fans.

Even better, the MPEG2 422P @HL codec will support a bitrate of 50Mbps which is considerably more than the 35Mbps maximum of the Sony F3 and is the minimum the BBC and Discovery Channel specify for high end productions in MPEG2. This should give good results when coupled with the Alexa sensor that the Amira uses.

The 50Mbps bitrate means it should be a bit more economical on media and means there is less data to archive as well. That could prove to give advantages in cost-efficiency to episodic tv work for example as well as being useful for owner operators who are starting out with a very basic Amira package.

It's a more lightweight codec for editing by todays standards too.

Once again this fits neatly in with the Arri history of easy workflows. (Shoot > Edit as they used to advertise for the Alexa.) Now Amira users have yet another option to enable low stress wofkflows.

The codec is expected in mid 2015 in Amira SUP 3.0 which will also bring support for Super 16mm lenses, intervalometer functionality for time-lapse and remote camera support in addition to general "usability enhancements".

Tags: Production

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