We’re not so sure about camera companies creating new formats, but they all seem to do it from time to time. Today was Arri’s turn, with the announcement of a new ProRes 3.2K, recording format for its Alexa. The new format will bcome available via a software update scheduled for release early next year.
The company says that ProRes 3.2K will allow the same up-sampling in post to UHD deliverables as ArriRAW Open Gate does to 4K.
Arri is attempting to future-proof Alexa by creating PR3.2K as an internal UHD/4K recording feature in the cameras. They’re doing similar for the Amira, which we wrote more about in an earlier article, here.
ALEXA Product Manager Marc Shipman-Mueller said, “Designed from the outset to be adaptable and future-proof, Alexa can easily accommodate productions that choose to follow a UHD or 4K workflow. The camera’s stellar overall image quality in combination with ProRes 3.2K or ARRIRAW Open Gate allows for simple up-sampling to UHD or 4K in a quality at least as good as other contenders. And because of their unequalled exposure latitude and highlight handling, Alexa images are already uniquely HDR-compatible. Put simply, ALEXA remains the safest available capture tool for asset longevity, no matter what future standards come to fruition.”
Yea, he’s not a little bit excited about the updates.
The format is really designed for TV productions, and provides a UHD deliverable. The Alexa XT cameras and Alexa Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade will offer the new ProRes 3.2K recording option. The data rates are said to be well below uncompressed ARRIRAW, which will be appreciated by many users and does make life a little easier on-set (faster transfer times, less storage space, etc).
In addition, the company has said that most lenses will fully cover the 3.2K image circle that results from the 16:9 ProRes 3.2K image.
An example of ArriRAW 2.8K up-sampled to a 4K DCP, is the last James Bond film, Skyfall. The company furthered this by introducing (earlier this year) the Open Gate recording format for Alexa XT cameras, which records the full 3.4K ALEXA XT sensor area (for post up-sampling to a 4K DCP).
So far, Open Gate has been on Warcraft, San Andreas, Pixels, Goosebumps and Sicario, the latest movie lensed by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC.
Other feature films shooting ArriRAW 16:9/4:3 and using Open Gate selectively for VFX shots, include Terminator: Genesis, Fantastic 4, Agent 47 and Deus Ex Machina.
Arri has been working with Dolby at major trade shows to help showcase Dolby Vision display technology, which is capable of 100 times more brightness than a conventional TV. This has contributed to a spreading awareness in the industry that dynamic range is an even more important factor than spatial resolution in creating a superior visual experience. Recognizing this, other companies such as Thomson, Philips and the BBC are working on their own HDR solutions.
The Dolby Vision presentations have revealed how much better Alexa images look when displayed with extended dynamic range, proving the as-yet untapped potential of remastering older features, shot on the Alexa, for future HDR display standards.
Price and Availability
There’s no word as yet on if this will be a free update, but as previously mentioned the ProRes 3.2K recording format will be available early next year.
Excerpts from Press Release