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Arri Alexa Goes Internal RAW with Codex XR Upgrade, and Gets New In-Camera IRNDs

02.20.13 @ 4:10PM Tags : , , , ,

There might be a lawsuit going on right now regarding compressed RAW, but Arri and their Alexa camera have avoided that business by sending out uncompressed, untouched RAW to third party recorders. Codex, maker of one of these third party recorders, has now partnered with Arri to design an internal RAW upgrade solution for all Alexa models called the XR Module that replaces the internal SxS technology, and takes a brand new 512GB card. From now on, the only new models offered from Arri will be the XT line with the XR upgrade, and the original Alexa with a 16:9 Super 35mm sensor. All new XT models will have the 4:3 sensor as standard. Check out the videos of the XR in action below.

Here is Codex on the new XR Module:

With industrial and engineering design by Codex, the XR Module is an integral part of the new ARRI Alexa XT camera, replacing the previous SxS Module. The XR Module provides several recording options in a single package. ARRIRAW at up to 120FPS (16:9) can be recorded onto a high performance Codex Capture Drive. In addition, Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD can also be recorded to a Codex Capture Drive, making longer recording times possible (up to 2.1 hours of ProRes 4444 at 24FPS or up to 15 hours of ProRes Proxy). With an SxS adapter, Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD can be recorded to an SxS Pro card.

Once removed from the camera, the XR Capture Drive offers a number of different paths into post, using the proven Codex workflow. First, a small and affordable USB3 Single Dock allows quick and safe copying of data onto a laptop. Second, the Dual Dock can make clones of XR Capture Drives and connect to a Mac Pro via a high speed SAS interface for speedy copying, archiving or dailies creation. And third, the Codex Vault is a modular and rugged all-in-one solution for fast and easy copying, archiving, reporting or dailies creation on or near set.

Some more videos of the upgrade:

The new Codex XR Capture Drive will be a 512GB card sold by Arri with a speed of 6.7 Gbps:

The XR Module Specs:

- Upgrade for ALEXA, ALEXA Plus, ALEXA Plus 4:3, Alexa M and Alexa Studio

- Replaces SxS Module with new Alexa XR Module
- Provides In-Camera ARRIRAW, ProRes and DNxHD recording

- Records ARRIRAW onto Codex XR Capture Drives
- ARRIRAW 16:9 at up to 120 FPS
- ARRIRAW 4:3 at up to 96 FPS (with the release of Alexa SUP 9.0)Capture Drive holds 50 minutes of ARRIRAW 16:9 at 24FPS or 10 minutes of ARRIRAW 16:9 at 120FPS

- Record onto either Codex XR Capture Drives or SxS Pro Cards (with SxS Adapter)
- Capture Drive holds 2.12 hours of ProRes 4444 HD 16:9 at 24FPS

There are some really interesting things going on with this announcement. For one thing, it’s clear Arri has an idea of what the competition is doing, but they are more or less chugging along doing their own thing. Their designs are a bit like the diesel engine — not the fastest, but still plenty of horsepower, and engineered for serious abuse over long periods. Obviously internal RAW is a much better solution than hanging a recorder off the camera or needing to be tethered, but Arri was content to leave it that way as long as it worked. They also like to over-engineer everything, and while we don’t know when work started on the design, I’m sure Arri and Codex have been planning and testing these modules for a while.

That’s not the only new addition to the camera. While the high-end Alexa studio has a built-in ND filter, they’ve come up with a solution for all of the XT models (from their press release):

The In-camera Filter Module IFM-1 allows ALEXA XT models to be rated at the base sensitivity of EI 800 without the need for external Neutral Density (ND) filters, even in bright sunlight. Filtering behind the lens rather than in front saves time and reduces weight, reflections and operational complexity. The Precision IRND filters used with the IFM-1 are based on innovative technologies that assure highest image quality and perfect color balance at all of the eight available densities, from ND 0.3 to ND 2.4.

Arri Alexa with XR Module Upgrade and Codex Vault

To my knowledge this is the first time that Arri has ever offered major upgrades like this to current camera owners. You probably have RED to thank for that, since it was common practice to just come out with a new $250,000 camera when you needed to do these kinds of additions. While RED’s system is modular, there is no solution for behind-the-lens NDs or an ND filter ring. Certainly there are issues with those systems, but if they are designed well, they save time, and they also can be made specifically for the sensor in the camera to correct for infrared pollution — which affects the MX sensor from RED in a major way if you’re using a lot of Neutral Density.

Arri upgraded their system while at the same time making it backward compatible with the current SxS cards, so users can still utilize all of their existing cards. Obviously this should save some money, because while there are no prices listed online, I can’t imagine this upgrade will be cheap.

The company might be marching to their own slightly different beat, but thanks to lower-priced competition from Sony and RED, I have no doubt we’ll see a 4K camera sooner or later that incorporates as many technological advancements as they can fit into one body — while still keeping it simple to operate and easy to handle.

Head on over to the Codex or Arri sites to learn more about the upgrade and the new models.


[via FD Times]


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Description image 35 COMMENTS

  • Internal RAW… expect Red talking on this…. is a way to back up Sony?

  • Cue RED lawsuit in 5, 4, 3….

  • nigel Thompson on 02.20.13 @ 4:38PM

    i really want to see the new pricing structure on the line up

  • When is panavision going to come out with their camera, any thoughts?
    as soon as NAB or much later?

    • They will probably have something at NAB but I doubt it’s ready yet, since all they showed so far is a prototype body.

      • There are working versions out in the wild, but there probably won’t be any footage at NAB. Also, this is only the first shoe to drop for ARRI.

  • I think the power is in their color science combined with a well built camera.

  • Internal raw? Finally.

  • Thyl Engelhardt on 02.21.13 @ 1:39AM

    Quite interesting to see that Arri decided against using SSDs for an internal raw recording module. Reliability? Speed?

  • john jeffreys on 02.21.13 @ 4:38AM

    I love how all the companies that talked shit on RED are now copying everything they do.

    • Having an onboard recording system is hardly an innovative idea, going back to the old VHS camcorders. Hell, film is an onboard recording system. It’s a little disingenuous to say Arri is copying them — more like improving the functionality of their product. “Copying everything they do”? Arri believes in uncompressed raw, RED does not. Arri’s strategy is less resolution, better ergonomics/reliability. RED’s is more resolution. I don’t think Arri is following RED’s path at all. And furthermore, when did Arri “talk shit” about RED?

      • john jeffreys on 02.21.13 @ 9:43PM

        back in 2006 nobody in the industry took red seriously, it was all “1080p is good enough” “4k onboard compressed raw recording is a myth” etc etc and now everybody is hopping on the bandwagon

        • so you mean nobody is supposed to do what they do? I give you a hint – it`s called progress. or should we rather still keep using electric bulbs because led lights are just jumping onto the bandwagon?

          • “so you mean nobody is supposed to do what they do?”

            If “what they do” is patented – then no, they gotta find their own way – or license the patented technology.

            There’s a tool from Loggerhead called The Bionic Wrench is made in the US and its approach to clamping onto a nut or a bolt using an array of blocks that slide in and tighten, is patented. This tool was sold in SEARS for a while, until SEARS commissioned a Chinese knockoff and started selling it under their Craftsman banner. Well, Loggerhead sued for patent infringement. The case is pending.

            Ripping off a good idea isn’t progress, it’s theft.

            It sounds like you have a problem with the USPTO, which is fine, most of us do to some extent. But to argue that RED should not actively and aggressively protect their intellectual property and bottom line is short sighted and outright stupid, and shows a complete disconnect from the reality of running a profitable business. Maybe you expect them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to come up with something and then give it away for free – you know, for progress? This isn’t Star Trek. We still have money.

  • john jeffreys on 02.21.13 @ 4:38AM
    I love how all the companies that talked shit on RED are now copying everything they do.

    I love these bullshit comments, Arri have been making cameras for motion picture since 1937 and they have been a reliable stalwart because they make great products & this is not the first camera from Arri to be upgradable they did that for instance on the 435s. Panavision whilst not selling cameras have upgraded cameras all the way back to the original Panaflex Gold which became the GII.

    Red were not the first RAW camera and digital cinematography started well before Red. Red did break price points and did make the cameras affordable to many more cinematographers. Arri, Panavision, Sony et al. never publically bad mouth Red but Red disciples seem to think its a badge of honor to bad mouth everyone else.

    • “Arri, Panavision, Sony et al. never publically bad mouth Red”

      ahahahahahah, good one!

      oh, wait, you were serious, weren’t you?

      • @Thor: “Ripping off a good idea isn’t progress, it’s theft.” Sure, to a certain extent. But we are creative not out of the blue but often just by adapting an existing idea. Have a look at RED’s patent. They used existing compression algorithms -prior art- in an existing device -digital film camera- and the only difference to existing technology that they built the recording device into the camera body – just like on any still camera at that time. Now thas serious innovation.

        • That’s factually inaccurate. Their patent is compression algorithm agnostic and does not cover the actual compression, only the methods that make it more efficient. To restate: the patent has nothing to do with what compression algorithm is used, it has do to with how they manipulate the data before it’s compressed and after it’s decompressed.

          Yes, it’s built on top of prior art. But that’s kind of the point. 100% ground up innovations are extremely rare these days, but that is exactly why everyone here should be jumping up and down supporting RED in their patent suit. The vast majority of innovations made in this industry (and most others, frankly) are piecemeal, and if those little innovations, which are built on top of existing ones, could be ripped off without a care in the world, there’s little incentive for anyone to spend $ on the R&D required to make those innovations a reality.
          It seems to me that most of the arguments against RED’s patent has to do with two things: 1) a childish hatred of RED and 2) a naive desire for every idea to be free once it’s been publicized.

          Regardless, all of us here who supposedly make a living in this industry, should be supporting RED 100% because they’re fighting to protect their intellectual property, just like we should support ANYONE who has to fight to protect their intellectual property. IP is the life blood of innovation. Unfortunately, most people are anarchists until they themselves create something valuable, which means there’s still a lot of anarchists in here.

          • Daniel Mimura on 03.1.13 @ 3:46AM

            Thor, you’re right…patents are built upon other patents…

            I don’t have it in front of me, but in the Steadicam handbook, they give the patent number and said, look it up if you feel like it, and I did…the patent specifically used the Luxo lamp (the Norwegian lamp now known to most people as the lamp from the Pixar logo) as an example of how the arm would hold the camera. I can’t remember, this lamp itself was patented, so either the patent ran out or it wasn’t patented, or it was different enough a field that it wasn’t covered…(or Norwegians in the 70′s weren’t as sue crazy as contemporary Americans.). Steadicam itself, like Ziplocks and countless other products had their patent and were the only ones doing it until their patents ran out…now, although both products are non longer patented, people still refer to their patented trade names (Steadicam and Ziplocks), not “camera stabilizer systems or interlocking self sealing plastic bags or whatever.

            I didn’t read all through the patent, but it seems fairly clear that they have a good case. Arri not making compressed RAW in their latest updates is further proof. Don’t think that they are doing uncompressed as a quality issue…it’s vastly inefficient for current buss speeds…if there was no data bottleneck, uncompressed might make sense, but that has not been the case—this is why they’re abandoning SxS, the way RED abandoned CF cards.

  • Too much hate. ill work on any camera that is amazing. and there are a lot of them. they arent sports teams guys we dont root for one to win. we want them all to do well because when they drop prices WE win.

  • Hi guys….Please can you tell me the best Camera in the market….I need One…I don’t like to change Camera’s…I just need One….Please I need your advice…

    • Arri Alexa XT. But I may be biased as I`m gonna order it myself…

    • Victor Sevostyanov on 02.22.13 @ 11:20AM

      If little money then select Blackmagic cinema camera. if a lot of money then select Arri Alexa.

    • Don’t let either of those two tell you what to do – or anyone else.
      Just pick the camera that works for your budget and your workflow. They’re all good in their own way.

  • This ARRI vs RED hate has gone to far!

    Seriously why care? As a DP you choose the camera that is right for the job, nothing else. How many of you haters have ACTUALLY used these cameras? I’ve used both RED Epic and ALEXA and if i need the extra resolution for whatever reason i use the Epic. If i want perfect skintones i’ll go for the ALEXA any day of the week.

    • I’m so tired of the “Alexa has perfect skintones” nonsense. If you can’t get perfect skintones out of an Epic, that’s on you, not the camera.

  • ダンヒルアウトレット価格

  • Codex XR module is interesting, but seems like just another proprietary piece of hardware that will cost too much now and be almost worthless in only a few short years.

    “While RED’s system is modular, there is no solution for behind-the-lens NDs or an ND filter ring.”
    Except for the Motion mount, right?
    But it’s too expensive for a BTL ND solution.

    I’m not RED fanboy by any means, but if you’re in the market, it’s a far better deal than the Alexa (a rental item for me).
    That said, I’m really excited about Arri’s upcoming Amira… the EVF/viewfinder is brilliant and ProRes444 2K 200fps would cover almost everything I do. If it’s under $40k (with a decent setup not incl. lens), I will be compelled to buy it.

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