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.

Alexa_17686_white-codex-and-vaultArri 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]