February 19, 2015

ARRI Announces Major Updates: ProRes 3.2K Recording for ALEXA & 4K UHD for AMIRA

ARRI has released some major updates for ALEXA and AMIRA users, including SUP 11, which gives ALEXA users the ability to record ProRes 3.2K, as well as a host of other new upgrades and bug fixes.

First up is the ALEXA update. SUP 11, designed for the ALEXA XT, ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade (ALEXA XT/XR), and ALEXA Classic, includes support for internal ProRes 3.2K, a recording format that ARRI announced back in September. The 16:9 format was specifically designed with TV production in mind to allow users to downscale to 2K or 1080p, or upscale to UHD or 4K in post. It can be recorded in any ProRes flavor at up to 30 fps onto XR Capture Drives, SxS PRO, SxS PRO+ and CFast 2.0 cards (with some exceptions).

The update also includes ARRI's debayering algorithm, which reduces noise and improves image quality. ARRI explains it:

At data rates far below uncompressed ARRIRAW, ALEXA ProRes 3.2K provides the benefits of the well-established and efficient ProRes workflow. A straightforward up-sample from ALEXA ProRes 3.2K using standard post tools results in a 4K UHD deliverable of unsurpassed overall image quality.

The ARRI Debayer Algorithm ADA-5 represents an improvement in image quality for all ALEXA models, delivering clearer and sharper images. This is especially visible in small, high-contrast details (such as thin branches against a blue sky), which will exhibit smoother, cleaner edges.

Here's ARRI's list of what's included in SUP 11 from their release notes:

  • ALEXA ProRes 3.2K (ALEXA XT/XR)
  • ALEXA ProRes 3.2K is a new recording resolution that uses 3.2K photosites from the sensor to record a 16:9 3.2K ProRes file. This format is specifically designed for TV productions that can create their 4K UHD deliverable by up-sampling 3.2K to 3.8K (=4K UHD) in post. Despite the minor up-scale, the image quality is usually equal to or better than that of other cameras.
  • ARRI Debayer Algorithm ADA-5 (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • ADA-5 is the latest revision of the ARRI debayering algorithm, used to create a color image from the sensor's raw Bayer data. It offers better image quality for ProRes and DNxHD recording, for the REC OUT, MON OUT and the EVF-1 electronic viewfinder. ADA-5 has already been made available in the ARRIRAW SDK for offline image processing. The new algorithm improves rendering of small, high contrast details and reduces the noise level in the red and blue channels.
  • Expanded Media Support (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • In addition to previously supported media, cameras running SUP 11 also support SxS PRO+ revision C cards (SBP-64C and SBP-128C) and SanDisk CFast 2.0 128 GB cards (ALEXA XT/XR).
  • Expanded Support for the ARRI Electronic Control System (ECS) (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • SUP 11 supports the new Lens Data Encoder LDE-1 and provides a number of new features when using the WCU-4 with ALEXA cameras.
  • Web Remote 2.0 (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • The camera web remote has a greatly improved user interface and better functionality.
  • Refined User Buttons (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • The 'Check Last Clip' user button command has been split into two new commands: 'Check last clip end' and 'Check last clip start' for greater flexibility.
  • ARRIRAW Checksum (ALEXA XT/XR)
  • The camera now records checksum information for each ARRIRAW frame that can be used to verify the integrity of the image data. This function greatly shortens the verification time during the copy process and offers even more safety when working with ARRIRAW data.
  • Framelines in the Metadata (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • Up to six framelines can now be saved in metadata. They can be used to speed up automated dailies processing or can be displayed in post software.
  • Time Zone in the Metadata (ALEXA Classic, XT/XR)
  • ALEXA cameras now save time zone information in metadata, as we have seen that some post systems require this information for a smooth workflow.

ARRI has also announced the March 2015 release of SUP 2.0 for the AMIRA, with SUP 3.0's release closely behind it. 2.0 will let users record ProRes 4444 in UHD at up to 60 fps with the purchase of a license at the ARRI License ShopSUP 3.0, set to go live in mid-2015, will add MPEG-2 422 50Mbps recording for broadcasting.

Here's a bit from ARRI:

The key new feature of AMIRA SUP 3.0 is the ability to record MPEG-2 422P@HL at 50 Mbit/s in an MXF wrapper. This XDCAM-compatible MPEG-2 recording format allows television productions to take advantage of AMIRA's superior image quality and ergonomics, while utilizing a low-bandwidth codec that can easily be integrated into typical broadcast environments and workflows.

Recording MPEG-2 MXF with AMIRA ensures 100% compatibility with the format already used by many low budget or time-pressured television productions, for which a streamlined workflow through ingest, editing and post is vital. This cost-efficient format minimizes the number of memory cards needed on set, but also reduces postproduction and archiving costs through reduced data rates and seamless integration with standard tools.

To learn more about the updates included in ALEXA's SUP 11 and AMIRA's SUP 2 and 3, head on over to ARRI's download page    

Your Comment

15 Comments

I know this is about Arri. But how come Blackmagic doesn't offer 2.5k resolution for their cinema camera? I think this will help differentiate between purchases it and the pocket camera. The production cam has 4k Proress.

February 19, 2015 at 10:34PM

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Vincent Gortho
none
578

I may be misunderstanding your question...but there is already a 2.5k Blackmagic Cinema Camera? (alongside the 4k Production Cinema Camera and the 1080p Pocket Cinema Camera).

I find it funny that they used a Canon EF L lens on the Amira picture.

February 19, 2015 at 11:42PM

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Matthew Devapiriam Emmanuel
Camera Operator
346

Lol. Read outside the box :)

February 20, 2015 at 1:19AM

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It would appear you meant 2.5k prores not resolution and UHD Prores not 4k. (it's only 4k for raw)

February 20, 2015 at 2:27AM

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Matthew Devapiriam Emmanuel
Camera Operator
346

Oops. I'm sorry. yes. I meant 2.5k prores.

February 20, 2015 at 2:57AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
578

Would've been funnier if they put a rokinon on there, though.

February 20, 2015 at 11:07AM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
501

Not really. The 50mm 1.4 in reviews blew away the CP2 and everything else in detail, distortion and bokeh. When it comes to lenses price is meaningless. I wish I learnt that earlier in my career.

I pick my Samyangs (Rokinon) over anything else. I love the creamy look and they are all sharp with the possible exception of the 24mm at 1080p.

February 21, 2015 at 5:35PM, Edited February 21, 5:35PM

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Vincent, the reason Blackmagic Cinema Camera can't do 2.5k is because Apple owns the prores codec. In order for Blackmagic to utilize a non existent 2.5k prores, they would have to purchase an annual rental license, plus additional costs for 2.5k prores support and creation and integration. So were talking about millions of dollars. #CommonSense.

February 20, 2015 at 1:22AM

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Sorry buddy, that's not true. ProRes is resolution agnostic, it can be anything between SD-5K and Blackmagic already has an agreement to record to ProRes, so anything the camera can capture it can output as ProRes.

February 21, 2015 at 4:10AM

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Darren Weckerle
Editor/Colorist
108

I'm not sure your right. The codec may be capable of those resolutions but that doesn't mean all their licensing is. Sony are about to release the Prores upgrade for the Sony F5 and F55 as a paid option but while the cameras both do 4K, the "upgrade" is only for 1080p..... Not 4K.

Personally I think a better upgrade would be getting a Shogun on the F5 and that gives you 4K Prores with monitor.

February 21, 2015 at 5:40PM

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This is excellent; 4K ProRes with Alexa sensor (Amira) - will really help to sell this as the camera to go to. Very, very exciting.

February 20, 2015 at 4:41AM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
260

Damn I wish more manufacturers took the 2.5K-3.2K range as seriously as Arri does. Still shows that they understand the industry better than anyone else.

February 20, 2015 at 8:48AM

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Samu Amunét
Director
241

The Amira is also getting the 3.2k prores format (if that wasn't clear from the article). I'll likely shoot most my stuff in this format over the UHD... but I wonder what the max fps on Amira will be in 3.2k prores. 30fps for the Alexa is pretty disappointing, but it's bound to be higher on the Amira; I'm guessing 100fps. We shall see...

February 20, 2015 at 7:58PM

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Jack Allred
Filmmaker
77

Amira "4K". Yeah, the same people who bashed Red One for not being "true 4K" will defend this. Why? Because it's ARRI.

February 21, 2015 at 4:11PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
1094

Agreed. If we start calling upres'd cameras 4K that aren't then I'm going to start calling the F5 and A7s 6K cameras :) Makes no difference if its done in post.

I'll recognise an Arri as 4K the day they release one with a 4K sensor. Not before.

February 21, 2015 at 5:49PM

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