October 14, 2013

AbelCine Breaks Down Arri Alexa XT: Codex Virtual Media & Live Grading Metadata

Video thumbnail for youtube video AbelCine Lays Out The ARRI ALEXA XT - No Film SchoolThere has been some significant news on the Arri front over the past few months -- namely, that the growing Alexa family is forking out 'budget' HD-specific and Doc-friendly body implementations. All the while, AbelCine has been a great resource on keeping us all up to date on the family's tech specs & specifics. This trend continues as AbelCine's Andy Shipsides walks us through Arri's Alexa XT system. Briefly, the XT series upgrades Alexa to Codex-powered internal ARRIRAW recording. Andy's videos go through the ins and outs of this system -- detailing everything from virtual media to live-grading metadata. Read on to check out the videos.

Once again, this material comes to us courtesy AbelCine. First, Andy goes over the major details of Alexa XT -- the 'special guest stars' include the following module and accessories:

Next, Andy goes over both the familiar circumstances of shooting/offloading ProRes and DNxHD, as well as the futuristic Codex VFS interface for RAW. The Virtual File System is very customizable, generating dailies or proxy files in codecs of your specification that become truly self-contained when 'offloaded.' In this way, the VFS (see Codex's PDF for more details) is pretty amazing, because you don't need to actually record any physical proxies to have eventual access to them in many desired formats. Check it out:

Finally, Andy goes over the creation of CDLs, or 'color decision lists,' live on set. Key players include:

You may have been keeping up on NFS's recent posts about defining the role of the DIT on-set, wherein top DITs explain the importance of primary color correction performed on the spot. The ability to create, modify, and apply a LUT on the fly, as the camera rolls -- and to do so non-destructively since the CDL LUTs are applied as metadata -- makes progressively more sense as the gap between production and post shrinks.

It's also nifty because everyone monitoring the camera can view the most up-to-date "color decisions" being applied to a scene. In fact, live-LUTing evokes the real-time coloring DITs used to perform via "paint box," except now, such color decisions aren't baked in.

The Alexa XT system is not only powerful, but may also be indicative of where RAW acquisition is going -- as such, I'll be excited to see if and when (and how) flexibility like this reaches lower-end camera systems. For further reading on these topics, check the links below.

Links:

Your Comment

18 Comments

I still believe it is better to future proof with red epic dragon. I get all of my stuff from John and Band pro - cutting edge!

October 15, 2013 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Looks like ARRI and Codex's attempt to play catch up to what RED has been doing all along with REDCINE-X. Say what you will about either camera looking better, RED has been much better about providing the tools to filmmakers. Also, how is this any different than using DaVinci Resolve? I'll give some leeway on the live CDL updating, but everything else is pretty standard on just about every other manufacturer's workflow--and you don't have to pay extra license fees for that functionality.

October 15, 2013 at 12:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob

Much better REDCINE-x.
Red offers tools better than Arri.

October 15, 2013 at 3:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alexiss

As a DoP this is the best camera in the world imo, save for film.

October 15, 2013 at 10:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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RobW

But Alexa is much better than Epic. For me ;)

October 15, 2013 at 10:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Baremis

If you like bulky, but easy one/two-button TV-like camera that does everything, sure. Don't try it on things like Movi. though.

October 15, 2013 at 1:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

I hope so Baremis.
Unfortunately, and I say unfortunately, because I'm a fan Arri, Dragon and definitely a sensor better than the Alexa. clean iso 2000, resolution, colors out of the box fine, a motion mount options with global shutter, shutter soft, ND adjustable step by step 0.10 stops being a fantastic tool.
One other thing in favor for RED now, to be small and modular, consumes little power, is in the palm of a hand, etc. etc.. If we think that they have a Dragon Carbon. very light this from a serious advantage in everything. Octocoper, Movi, staedy freee hand run and gun ... etc etc..
I hope and I hope with all my heart that I can make a new camera Arri 4k best, and especially hard now to do a good workflow 4k or 6k in RAW.

October 15, 2013 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ZDF TV

Alexa is working on a 4K camera.

In my opinion, they should also be in research and development for 8K. But they are just working on a 4K right now. This is a post from here from July 10 about an ARRI 4K in development:

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/07/arri-confirms-4k-camera-development/

October 15, 2013 at 6:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

BTW, Amira will allegedly be priced at ~ €25,000. This usually translates to ~ $25K in the US.

October 15, 2013 at 11:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

RED RED RED... People can holla all they want about how awesome the RED is yet every DP I know would rather shoot on film, then the Alexa and then maybe RED.

October 15, 2013 at 11:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The Rising

Film people are in denial. Retrogrades, luddites, nostalgic hipsters - here's your options. Digital is the future, if they like it or not.

October 15, 2013 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

Good job, ARRI, finally getting rid of the external recorder monstrosity. Well, to be fair, while RED were busy promoting RAW at every corner, ARRI shooters in general shot ProRes happily, like 90% of TV, most of the time it looks quite good. If we're talking features, that's another question.

Oh, by the way.... Where the hell is Alexa 4K?

October 15, 2013 at 12:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

It is on the way. But Red already has 6K, and, I have heard, is working on 8K. Maybe ARRI, and all other camera companies that are competing with Red, should already be working on getting 8K, or 10K. Red has changed the playing field, and I like it. It's in high gear now. Get going or eat dust.

ARRI 4K news from July 10 here at NFS:

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/07/arri-confirms-4k-camera-development/

October 15, 2013 at 6:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

What's interesting here is that while the lower end cameras still try to improve their image quality, the high end tries to perfect (and minimize) the workflow. With XT and Amira, Arri is obviously suggesting that the final image can be obtained from inside the camera. Others will no doubt follow the trend.

October 15, 2013 at 8:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Seems like it's all about making people believe what they want them to believe about their product. Red sells itself. It is the best. Nothing is as good as that 6K Red Dragon. So yeah, work flow, maybe that will convince people to go elsewhere. Sell, sell, sell. Work hard to sell something that doesn't sell itself.

October 15, 2013 at 9:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

LiveGrade can also be used to create CDLs for RED http://pomfort.com/livegrade/

October 15, 2013 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

Considering that 2.5K is pretty much topping the streaming capabilities of the moment, anything that can res higher than that has a diminishing rate of return. You can still see the difference even in the downsampled clips but it's not as pronounced as 2.5K vs. 2K or 720P. And 4K streaming won't be widely available until the HEVC codec is. By then, Arri and a slew of its competitors will have the 4K models out. Meanwhile, the big boys try to quicken the workflow as much as they can, as that is the number one priority for the high end production.

October 15, 2013 at 11:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

As far as the economic infrastructure is concerned, both Cinema and definately TV will not come in 4k for quite a long time. Therefore thinking of 6k and 8k shooting is slightly premature and would be neccessary only in the case of a collosal movie which the producer wants to future proof.
Arri is the worlds first choice in digital cinema and more so TV.

October 18, 2013 at 3:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V. Anand