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 Shop. SUP 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.