03 Sep 2014

3.2K ProRes comes to the Arri Alexa XT

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 ARRI makes it clear that the Alexa is a camera for the 4K future

ARRI have made a very interesting announcement. Early next year (2015) they will be releasing a firmware update to allow the Alexa XT to record in 3.2K directly to Apple ProRes format. When it was announced that the Amira would record to ProRes at UHD resolution a few days ago I was left wondering what ARRI had in mind for the Alexa. It seemed strange that they would release such an update for the Amira and not for the Alexa also. This made me wonder if they had something up their sleeve for the Alexa too. Well now we know what they had in mind!

It appears that the Alexa XT update will differ from the Amira update by recording directly to 3.2K ProRes whereas the Amira upsamples the 3.2K to the 3.8K of UHD in camera. I assume this difference in workflow is because the Amira is more geared up for the output to be largely ready to go right out of the camera. On the Alexa XT you lose that advantage but gain the advantage of having smaller ProRes files to work with and archive and also the possibility of using your favourite upsampling algorithm and the choice of whether to upsample to UHD TV or all the way to cinema resolution 4K.

Until now if you wanted to record at resolutions higher than 2K on the Alexa XT you had to commit to recording in ARRIRaw with the workflow that required but now the Alexa XT will be even able to record in 3.2K direct to ProRes.

Another perhaps unplanned advantage of the Alexa XT recording in 3.2K, is that it is quite clear that this is actual native resolution that is available from the camera and that it isn’t just being upsampled from 2K (which a lot of people assumed would be the case with the Amira UHD update). 

ARRI point out that this will future proof any content you shoot for the future so that you can shoot now but re-release your movie or other production in the future on a UHD-TV format of some kind. They are also keen to mention in their press release that the Alexa is also well suited to produce content that will work with future Dolby high dynamic range formats and they are working closely with Dolby to make sure the Alexa will be a good match for this technology as well.

As people often point out, we are still a way away from these future technologies being anything like widespread, so for now it’s about recording content that can continue to be easily re-purposed in the future. This new update for the Alexa should make that easier and more economical.

Check out the full press release after the break:

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Freya Black

Freya Black is a Freelance writer, director, cinematographer and artist based in the UK, (the land of cold winters and rainy days). She believes cinematography is all about creating magic through light. Her all time favorite film is "Freaks" by Todd Browning. Freya is a big fan of chocolate, owls and the night.

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