July 10, 2013

ARRI Confirms Future 4K Camera, but Are They Developing It Reluctantly?

arri-alexaARRI is developing a 4K camera with 14 stops of dynamic range and high frame rate capabilities, and while that might not come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention, now we've got confirmation straight from the company itself. Everyone is making a 4K camera, so it was only a matter of time that ARRI jumped on board as well. What's interesting, however, is not that ARRI is developing a 4K camera, but that they aren't happy with how quickly companies seem to want to push HD to the wayside and get on the UHD and 4K trains.

In a recent Hollywood Reporter post, ARRI's Managing Director, Franz Kraus, revealed some of his thoughts about tactics employed by companies to make 4K look better:

“What annoys me, more than being asked about whether we are launching a 4K camera, is that at trade shows, HD quality is often being dumbed down, or not presented to its optimum quality, in order to make Ultra HD 4K look good,” Kraus said. “This is a bad trick because consumers will buy 4K displays based on the false expectation that the image is really that superior to HD.”

He argued, “The perception of picture quality has a lot to do with the physical performance of the display. For example, a 2K image displayed on an HD OLED monitor looks incredible because the active light source shows far higher contrast ratios in the picture.”

He also revealed that ARRI was planning on releasing a 4K-plus version of the ALEXA shortly after the first version:

“The Alexa camera family concept had initially included a 4K-plus sensor version to be launched approximately one year after the introduction of the first Alexa. But the outcome of an intensive feasibility study more than two years ago showed that we would sacrifice dynamic range for resolution, so we decided not to proceed,” he explained.

With Sony now fully invested in cameras that are shooting in 4K and matching the ALEXA in dynamic range, and RED potentially leap-frogging both of them, it sounds less like ARRI is actually disappointed with the 4K transition, and more like they assumed their technology would be cutting edge for longer. If you have skilled DPs already choosing ARRI because of the trusted name and excellent color science/dynamic range over resolution, why are they worried about whether consumers will be "duped" into moving into 4K too soon, especially as theaters are pushing into 4K distribution (arguably where 4K makes a much greater difference)?

The ALEXA is the industry standard camera in TV, and to a lesser extent in movies, where RED has also carved out space for itself among higher-end features. It's a little strange that a company so focused on absolute quality wouldn't be more excited about getting higher-quality images in front of audiences. They obviously have less money to work with than a company like Sony or Canon, but how quickly and swiftly they took over the industry was about more than just the images coming out of their camera. If they are leapfrogged in technology by competing companies, will their name still mean as much as it has in the past? Does this worry them?

Which camera you shoot on is far less important these days as you can get something that looks great out of any of them, and for many of the projects shooting on ARRI, the camera is a small part of the budget. Franz is absolutely correct that a proper HD image will look better than a poor 4K image. You have to wonder, though, if they are playing a dangerous game by potentially being the last one to the 4K party and likely pricing their camera at the highest end (which we can infer by the pricing of the ALEXA HD that was just released). Rental houses have largely been able to deal with these costs in the past, but with camera prices on a serious downward trend, will rental houses still be doing the business they once were in order to be able to buy a dozen or two dozen cameras at $100,000 a pop? When you can buy an ALEXA-quality 4K camera at Best Buy (a slight exaggeration, I know), why will rental houses still be investing so much money in cameras?

It's clear that whatever ARRI releases from now on will put overall image quality as the most important aspect, but what happens when you can get 90-95% of ARRI quality and stability for 1/3 the cost? Will rental houses still see the benefit in spending that much more for basically the same quality?

What do you guys think about the potential of the ARRI 4K camera? Do you think ARRI is worried about other companies moving ahead much faster with their tech? Are they right to criticize the move to 4K without first getting the most out of HD? What role do you see ARRI playing if everyone else catches up at much cheaper prices?

Link: Arri's Managing Director: HD Is 'Dumbed Down' to Make 4K Look Good -- The Hollywood Reporter

Your Comment

84 Comments

Arri probably know better than anyone what is needed to make an excellent filmic image, but camera technology is progressing so fast that companies are struggling to keep up.

Can't wait to see images from the BMD 4K cam!

July 10, 2013 at 3:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Matt

Interesting news. If they build it like the 2k Alexa, then they will have another solid camera on their hands. It will be interesting to see how it does. I think a lot will depend on what happens with the TV market. A 4k workflow that is as easy as the current Alexa workflow will be very appealing to that market when it goes to 4k.

As for rental shops, I know my local place has 8 Alexa's and they are almost never on the shelf for longer then a day or two. When the camera first came out, they only had 2. So if that is an indication of profitability in the rental market, then it is a good sign. On the other hand, the Red's and F65 sit on the shelf and are almost always available ...

July 10, 2013 at 3:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Yeah the F65 has been a miserable investment for most places (at least one place I know has maybe rented it out once or twice in months), and REDs go out far less frequently than ALEXAs do. I'm assuming ARRI is a year away at least from announcing the 4K camera, and it will probably be another 6 months until it's really in use after that. A lot can change in 12-18 months. It's going to be fine at the higher end, but the F55 is going to creep into a lot of what has been ARRI up until now, and who knows what's going to come out in the next year.

July 10, 2013 at 4:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

good observation Ryan,
Also in my part Alexa go out more often than RED.
That was until 1 year ago, now things have changed a bit, nowadays young people have no difficulty in understanding the operation of EPiC, so we'll see in the coming years.
If RED guessed the new sensor then surely we will see an increase.
Well we'll see how it will be 'in the flow of Arri 4k. I'm curious.

July 10, 2013 at 5:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alexis

Alexis, I think you'll find its because the EPIC currently rents for @50% of the Alexa price at most houses. And the Alexas are never in. :-)
Dragon will change that for RED, but lo, Arri will just drop the 4K and that will become the norm. I've seen pics from it. Its crazy good. They are reluctant about it - they've had it ready to announce for a while - but I think that the Dragon sensor actually shipping this year plus the strong Sony F55 sales has forced their hand.
The reluctance is that they are still selling the hell out of the 2K models and if you can delay a product cycle that's when you maximise your profit.
As for the F65, its a strong renter here in LA in commercials and SFX features. Not anywhere near the Alexa, but its working.
Personally my favourite 'big cams' go Alexa, F55, EPIC, C500, F65. Not bad that a 2K cam still leads that list.

July 10, 2013 at 11:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

That's right. It's the product cycle issue on top of the already existing downward price pressure. A 4K cam costs more to manufacture and, once on the market, Arri's version have to compete with a slew of reasonable quality products from other major brands and that will put a much tighter squeeze on their P&L statement. I'd look at Alexa more like the lightning in the bottle anyway. It was a great product at just the right time and place for it to become its market leader. The problem for Arri lies in the industry they're involved in. Advancements in electronics and photo imaging are progressing at an extremely rapid pace and, for anyone to stay on top, they'll have to continue to innovate.

PS. To look at the global photo-video imaging market for a bit - camera/smart phones (750 million units shipped last year) virtually wiped out the point&shoot camera market and will do the same to the sub-$1K HD camcorders. That creates a huge vacant capacity that will quickly adopt to pump out the next tier of products. In terms of 4K, the required processing power is getting cheaper by the minute. The media transfer and storage are doing likewise. IMO, the top brands will have to move toward 4K just to keep their factories humming along. If one expects a 25-30% price drop on a year to year basis per given quality, as happened with the computers and the electronics in general over the last couple of decades, 4K will be in everyone's pockets in no time. Meanwhile, those who rest on their laurels will step aside for someone else to emerge. Blackberry anyone?

July 10, 2013 at 12:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Around here, I know the reason no one rents Reds from rental houses is because there are a ton of owner ops who rent their Reds out for way less than the rental houses.

July 10, 2013 at 3:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gabe

this is true, I do this also.

July 11, 2013 at 6:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

I think what often gets missed when discussing the Alexa, and in particular comparing it to other newer, lower priced alternatives, is the huge benefits it brings aside from image quality - reliability and ease of use.
As a working camera assistant I really cannot emphasise enough just how much easier it is to work with an Alexa in comparison to RED's, Sony Cameras, Canon's etc. I love my technology and like many others on this site I get excited by announcements by RED and Sony, I’m always looking forward to seeing how they’re innovating - however when it comes down to it, on set and from a production point of view their cameras just don’t facilitate production in the same way as the Alexa.

The entire camera is designed for the practicality of shooting, this means that the interface is considered and facilitates logical, fast switching between settings, it also means that the body has been designed and constructed for shooting conditions - simple things like the placement of I/O, or the weight distribution. Additionally, it just works. An Apple phrase I know but one that I think is far more accurate of the Alexa than an Apple product - a camera team working with the Alexa simply has greater trust that it will work with fewer problems.

These may be small things that individually, and definitely on paper, seem less significant than ‘4k’ or ‘300fps’, yet ultimately save the camera team and production more time by reducing potential delays, enables the director to get closer to the initial vision they had and most importantly for producers – helps save money. The potential money lost by having to stop more frequently to fix issues with the camera very, very quickly outweighs any savings a production may on the rental costs and I think this is realised on more professional, experienced shoots.

I’m not oblivious to the counter-arguments to this - an experienced camera crew should be able to negate most problems through proper preparation and understanding of the equipment, regardless of the camera. I understand the benefits of camera for example the Epic’s size for 3D, or it’s extra resolution for VFX heavy productions where keying is going to be important, I also get that lower cost alternatives have a much larger impact in lower-budget shoots and so forth. Nevertheless from my experience a large part of the Alexa’s success is due to how few problems it adds to productions which already have enough unforeseen issues on a daily basis without the camera department contributing, and this is an area RED, Canon and Black Magic won’t be able to surpass quickly.

July 10, 2013 at 4:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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James

+1

Additionally there is HD and there is HD. The HD coming out of the Alexa is mind-blowing; I never knew HD could look that good.

July 10, 2013 at 4:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MWL

well said, the more time used producing things instead of troubleshooting the better.
I hope Arri would make a lower priced S16 / 2K camera for the rest of us.

July 10, 2013 at 5:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tulio

This. Exactly.

Plus skin-tones. Nothing yet matches the Alexa skin-tone rendering. At least for caucasian faces.

July 10, 2013 at 10:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Elias

but are you kidding? show me an example please?
Canon, BM, RED, ARRI .. waiting for your reply and the link of the original files, I'm curious.
Thank you.

July 10, 2013 at 11:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alexis

Even Red admit Arri is ahead when it comes to skintones which they say they'll close the gap with new Dragon sensor. Everyone in the industry having worked with these cameras agree on Alexa rendering the nicest caucasian skin tones, he doesn't have to prove you anything.

July 11, 2013 at 6:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

HAnsd,
in reality 'there is no gap, there is people who speak from hearsay.
Evidenced by the fact that RED is used in most films with big budget, do not have money problems and then choose the best camera. I do not think would choose RED 'cause it sucks with the skin tone.
So of course must show the opposite, otherwise there is no 'sense of what he says.
Dragon will be 'even better in everything, especially the dynamic range and ISO 2000 make huge difference.

July 11, 2013 at 7:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alexis

Arri were pretty much last to the HD party before with the D21 and the Alexa. I'm sure they are not afraid of that fact this time.

July 10, 2013 at 5:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nat

I read a series of very interesting articles, which said, that what finally killed film, was neither RED nor Sony. It was Arri, with the Alexa.
I still believe, that, unless you have a drawing/ living room the size of mini-theatre, it doesn't make sense to have 4k screens. You cannot really make out the difference. And, none really wants to count pixels, while watching a film.
Right now, Alexa is the king of TV production (and a huge part of Film, as well). If they believe that quality, ergonomics, handling, etc etc are more important than 5k, 6k or 8k, then, they obviously know what they are talking. I am sure, they have more than the necessary expertise and hardware resources for 4k. Maybe, they want to create a platform for the 4k experience, whether for TV, or films. RED, till such time, can try and cross the 8k barrier (since Japanese and Korean TV makers are already showing off their 8k prototypes).

July 10, 2013 at 5:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Zack

I was at the introduction of the Alexa in Munich, Germany. As we left the presentation you could hear dozens of DoP who had been in the audience say that we had just witnessed the death of film, because of the overall IQ the Alexa appeared to deliver and the 14 stops of DR.

Nearly every DoP I work with prefers the Alexa and you always hear the same reasons given;. beautiful roll off in the high lights, 14 stops of DR, perfect skin tones, ergonomics. These are commercials, TV shows and large studio features.

The Epic is usually the choice when they need something very compact or are on a tight budget, although having to process 5k redcode is a massive PIA on a show without resources. You hear a lot of complaints about the color science, the nasty muddy green cast, harsh highlights. The ergonomics suck and the cameras are not as easy to use as the Alexa. I've heard people describe Red cameras as being in a perpetual state of 'beta'. Actors bitch because the 5k brings out every flaw in their skin and shows their age, so we end up stomping on the 5k footage to soften it. And one constant complaint you hear is that a lot of people simply don't like the way Red presents itself. Terms you hear are unprofessional, juvenile, cult like fan boys, arrogant, obnoxious. Not surprising when you hear the head of the company say things like 'the only competition we have is ourselves '
Whatever.

July 10, 2013 at 10:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Billy Wilder

My biggest hope from all of this? That in 12 months or so, someone will sell me a used Alexa for cheap :)

July 10, 2013 at 9:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You mean for 60k, right?

July 10, 2013 at 10:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

No, I mean for CHEAP! :)

July 10, 2013 at 11:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

That IS cheap.

July 10, 2013 at 3:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

Red is like the Guy Fieri of camera makers.

July 10, 2013 at 10:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hans

So true.

July 10, 2013 at 7:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

I think 4K looks too good to keep the video industry hanging on to 1080p, regardless of its shortcomings. The good about 4k outweighs the shortcomings. It could be some in the video industry are too focused on how an image looks to a trained eye. I don't think 99.9% of people (I don't mean 99.9% of the people that read this blog) are peeling their eye to find technical fault with the images they are watching on the screen. 4K looks better than the best 1080p. That's all. Should video makers be appealing to the trained eye or to the 99.9%?

This video is a nice example of how good 4K can be. If someone knows of a 1080p video that looks better than this please post it in reply. One may exist, I don't know. I've seen great 1080p but none of them are as easy on the eye as this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pSzhZ76GdM

July 10, 2013 at 10:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

"but what happens when you can get 90-95% of ARRI quality and stability for 1/3 the cost?" - this is the case now, just about (Epic, F55), so what would change? There is a lot in those last 10%...

And on projects where the camera rental (as opposed to the camera department) is a negligible fraction of the budget (which means pretty much any project with an actual budget), you just pick the best camera and are done with it.

I'm involved with a film that's about to go into shooting, and they are debating wether to go with an Epic that they can get practically for free (a co-producer deal) or a full-price rental Alexa - It's an actual debate for them, and this is not big budget stuff...

July 10, 2013 at 10:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Davíð

Alexa has the image that delivers on the big screen with no issues but as far as a company they might find the price of their cameras are hard to be profitable with. Users mainly rent them as opposed to the Red and Sony cameras. They are owned by more DP's. I wonder what the price of a 4K Alexa will be?

July 10, 2013 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Erik, in Europe a lot of owner/ops went straight to Alexa. You almost can't get work on major docs/TV without owning one. The first one I saw in London in 2012 the DP paid it off in 3 months! The ROI on that camera has been spectacular over the last 18 months.
My guess as to the 4K price: $85k naked, 125k fully rigged (highspeed etc). And it will sell like hotcakes at that price - bearing in mind that for most of the Arri 2K customers the current camera is a fully paid off asset.
Then the current Alexa will drop to well under $1K a day to rent, which will finally put a dent in the C300 rental market (usually a rental house's 2nd most requested cam).

July 10, 2013 at 1:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Interesting. If the camera keeps that Alexa look it will hold it's market for cinema.

July 10, 2013 at 10:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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This might be the situation in London but sure enough not the case for Europe in general.

July 11, 2013 at 6:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

HD was always going to be a stop-gap measure because the technology could easily be pushed further. It's the visual equivalent of DAT recorders in the pro audio realm - largely replacing the analog reel-to-reel 2 track master and offering superb quality but destined to be replaced by even higher fidelity and a cheaper (eventually), more ubiquitous and more accessible combo of alternatives (hard drives and CDs). Any manufacturer or end-user that hung their hat on DAT's longevity had a bitter pill to swallow. I still feel a little sorry for the poor saps who bought that $8K Fostex DAT recorder.

HD isn't that new. I've been watching it, exclusively when I could, for the last decade. Image acquisition, transmission and exhibition all going digital has changed the timetables of everything we've become accustomed to and things will progress much quicker going forward. 4K IS better than HD. No, you won't be able to see the benefits in resolution in every viewing situation but you should easily see the improvement in color over HD's REC 709 color space.

Arri doesn't always get it right, either. Nobody cared much about the D-21. The Alexa proved superior image quality (whether the perception is true or not) trumps a lot of things and RED hopefully learned a valuable lesson from that. However, RED proved that you can't hold on to the way things used to be at exorbitant prices indefinitely and Arri needs to learn that lesson as well.

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

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Brian

I get what you're saying, but I really don't think the HD:DAT analogy is very relevant. HD will always be cheaper than 4K+ simple because of its flexibility and lower data rates. HD is not restricted to a specific workflow like DAT was. HD, like 4K, can be recorded in virtually any codec to virtually any storage device - so HD is in fact the "more ubiquitous and more accessible" solution you are suggesting it is not. 4K+ will obviously get to there too, but I really don't think that HD is the DAT of video like you suggest.

July 10, 2013 at 11:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

Yeah, DAT would equates more to something like SD / DV ... a format limited by both codec, media and resolution. HD1080 is a really nice manageable format with a wide range of very high codecs.

4K is a stopgap between HD and 8K lol ... it's never ending ;)

July 10, 2013 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

It does end. There is a point of diminishing returns based on the limits of the human eye and the physical dimensions of a theater.

There's a point where more resolution does not work at all. You have to get so close to the screen to see the additional resolution, that you cannot see the whole screen at once, meaning you'd only see part of the movie, the part you're looking at right now.

We're not going 4k, 8k, 16k, etc. At some point you are simply done. The extra resolution cannot be seen unless you use a microscope and people don't watch movies under a microscope.

July 10, 2013 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Yes, but marketing people and spec sheet nerds can see the difference.

July 10, 2013 at 1:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hans

Personally I don't really have an inkling as to when the resolution wars will stop, but I do think that one of the next MAJOR revolutions in image capture and display will not be related to the number of pixels but some breakthrough in HOW they are captured, displayed and experienced. It may sound stupid, but I think at some point in the next few decades images won't be displayed as simply a collection of dots any more, which is really what the resolution wars are based on - getting more dots.

July 10, 2013 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

The human eye tops out at ~ 300 PPI (a little higher for those with better than 20/20 vision, up to ~ 325). A Sony 56" 4K professional monitor is only 79 PPI. Asus 39" 4K pro monitor is at 140 PPI. The highest PPI (per screen size) currently is Quad HD 9" monitor by Astrodesign, which gets as high as 490 (way beyond the normal human capacity). If you enlarge it to a movie screen size (60 feet wide, as an example), a human should be able to see in excess of a billion MP's (under my calculation, almost 4.5B to get to the retina level) Whether or not you'd want to see someone's closeup at that resolution is a different story. On the other hand, nature/landscape or CGI, especially photo realistic CGI, may look just fine.

July 10, 2013 at 5:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

DAT was capable of recording at 48KHz. That's beyond the limits of human hearing. Most humans can't hear past 44.1KHz. I'd hardly say it was the SD/DV equivalent and most certainly didn't suffer in regard to resolution.

July 10, 2013 at 3:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

And, yes, I know about the Nyquist limit. I should've said most humans can't hear beyond what 44.1KHz covers (22.05 KHz).

July 10, 2013 at 4:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

Wrong. 48khz is the sampling rate.

July 10, 2013 at 6:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark

@Mark. NOT wrong. A sampling frequency of 48KHz (or any frequency) necessarily implies an actual maximum content frequency of half that number, without having to be explicit - it's understood. In this case, it's 24KHz, which is beyond the limits of human hearing. I knew someone was going to try to call bullshit, which is why I added that I understood Nyquist and should've worded it differently for those people who either didn't know this info or who just couldn't resist the urge to be a jackass. Which one are you?

July 11, 2013 at 7:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You're clueless bro.

July 11, 2013 at 4:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark

Well, I guess I'm just as clueless as these sources. Maybe you'll take the opportunity to set us all straight. Please explain how I'm wrong. Or, are you the insult and move on type?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_rate

http://searchcio-midmarket.techtarget.com/definition/Nyquist-Theorem

http://redwood.berkeley.edu/bruno/npb261/aliasing.pdf

July 11, 2013 at 7:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

Stop your crying. You incorrectly stated that DAT's were capable of recording at a frequency range of 48khz. You're trying to backtrack now with your long winded explanation. Nice try!

July 11, 2013 at 7:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark

Put more clearly:

The sampling rate setting of a given device implies the highest frequency the device can accurately capture at that setting is equal to half the sampling rate, as explained by the Nyquist-Shannon Theorem.

Conversely, the highest frequency contained in the sampled material must be sampled at a rate of (at least) twice that frequency in order to be faithfully reproduced.

The typical range for human hearing is 20Hz - 20KHz. DAT, at 48KHz, more than satisfies this range, recording frequencies up to 24KHz. I don't know how more plainly I can say it.

July 11, 2013 at 7:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You do realize everybody can see what I wrote don't you? "DAT was capable of recording at 48KHz." I didn't use the word "range". I'm not backtracking anything. DATs did record at 48KHz. I owned two different units. I don't even know what you're talking about.

Don't be ashamed that you didn't know about the Nyquist limit or fully understand how sampling rates relate to human hearing. It's okay. I'm happy to help.

July 11, 2013 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You're still a moron.

July 13, 2013 at 3:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark Pommett

Mark, stop trolling. Brian's right.

July 13, 2013 at 4:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gabe

I'm a moron who schooled your ass. I have to admit, your dogged commitment to ignorance is fascinating. I also see you added your last name, which tells me things must not be going too well for you if you're willing to publicly be a douche in order to drum up business. No worries...douchebags gotta eat, too, I suppose.

You're hoping people are so put off by your comments they Google you to see just where you get the nerve, only to naturally be taken by your genius. Except, you're forgetting the part about how you were wrong and uninformed and a douche about it. I bet people are lining up to work with you now.

Tell us again how DATs didn't record at 48KHz. I never get tired of that one.

July 13, 2013 at 7:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You schooled nobody and you proved nothing expect for the fact that your a) more sensitive than a 13 yr old school girl and b) you ramble too much. Guys like you crack me up.

Just to sum things up in case you were a bit flustered...

DATs have an upper frequency range of 24khz and a sampling rate of 48khz. You could've just said that in the beginning and I wouldn't have had to call you out.Two sugars and cream jackass ;)

July 14, 2013 at 3:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark

@Mark

Are you drunk?

July 14, 2013 at 4:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gabe

Mark, you'd better watch out. People will start to think you have a crush on me.

You say I ramble too much (which is entirely true) and yet you say "DATs have an upper frequency range of 24khz and a sampling rate of 48khz." NOBODY in the industry talks like that unless they're explaining it to someone who doesn't know. You want to know the shorthand of that sentence? Sampling rate: 48KHz. People assume you know the other part.

It amazes me that you honestly believe there's a difference between what you just said and what I've been saying. I clarified my statement in the very next post and you still needlessly tried to call me out (because you probably thought Nyquist was an off-brand, nighttime cold medicine). And, all this discussion does is reiterate that Dan was wrong about DAT's resolution, which was my original point. Thanks for helping me prove it. My work here is done.

July 14, 2013 at 8:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You're welcome.

July 14, 2013 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark

If graphene (a sheet of graphite 1 atom thick) really can be used to make pixels (it's being made into sensors in the lab right now) then 16K should be on the way. Can't wait! ;-)

July 11, 2013 at 1:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

@DLD
Don't forget that those PPI figures concerning human perception also need a viewing distance accompanying them. If you look at a 5" 1080p phone screen at one foot from your face, you'll be able to make out a lot more in the way of individual pixel detail than if that screen is at arm's length, or even six feet away. Similarly, one most likely won't be viewing a movie on a 56″ 4K television from the same distance as they would on their phone, nor would they be viewing a 60-foot theater screen from the same viewing distance as their 56" television. Maybe you could fill up that 60-foot screen with hundreds of megapixels of resolution, but no one sitting in any of the standard-distance seats in that theater would ever be able to make out that much detail, 20/5 visual acuity rating or not.

July 11, 2013 at 1:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Blah

Yes, right you are. 300 PPI translates to a Pixel per Degree ratio of 53 when viewed from 10-12 inches away, according to Wikipedia. But I am not in the mood to calculate all PPD's for the various screen sizes. So, here's the site that calculates the PPD, depending on other variables. This is what I get from it - an HD signal viewed on a 50" TV from 50 inches away has the PPD of 38.45 (room for improvement). The same set&distance on a Quad TV gives me 76 (I just doubled the PPD). If I move in to 35" away, I get the 53, i.e. the retina quality display. On a 65" set, I can move to 45" away. On a 55" TV, 38". All of the above are in 16/9. On a 60" wide (movie) screen in 2.39/1 ratio, I hit 53 at 48 feet away. (in an average movie theater, distance between rows is about 3 feet, so this would account for 10-12 rows) In 8K, the "retina display" distance is halved to 24 feet.

http://home.roadrunner.com/~res18h39/calculator.htm

July 11, 2013 at 3:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Man, I hate to disagree with a namesake. I was speaking more so about the transitional nature DAT and HD share. They both seemed like the perfect, long-lasting solution...until they weren't. I expounded on DAT in case there were readers who weren't familiar with it and didn't mean to imply an exact 1-to-1 correlation. There wouldn't be one anyway due to the nature of their differences. It was simply a short and sweet history of the device. I could've worded my intent more clearly.

But, as I think about it and If I remember correctly, DAT recorders were around some time before standalone CD recorders hit the streets en masse. When they did, they were in the $600+ territory. Prices eventually (there's that word again) came down, CD burners started showing up in home computers and random access usually wins over linear, so DAT's days were numbered. I'm not saying HD's CURRENT state is like DAT at the end. I'm arguing HD is like DAT in its heyday, before it was overtaken - an industry standard, perfect for what it's good at yet destined to be replaced by, if not something cheaper, something more capable for the same price. And, they will suffer a similar demise. You say HD is cheaper than 4K. For the most part, that's still true. But, the BMPC4K costs the same as an FS100. The Alexa HD is $45K and the F5 and Epic Dragon weigh in for substantially less.

You're suggesting DAT was designed for and relegated to a very narrow application (although, there were consumer players) whereas HD has more options in its use. However, DAT would accept audio recorded in any format and spit audio out to any other audio format (on the receiving end) or medium. So, I don't know that I see a difference there. It was usually saved for the end of the chain before mastering but that doesn't mean it couldn't be or wasn't used in other ways.

The benefits of HD you tout were not always the case. HD had a similar backlash to what 4K is facing, despite the very obvious improvement in picture quality. HD eventually (that word...again) became ubiquitous, more accessible and easy to work with due to bigger, higher, more efficient and/or faster everything, NOT because it was inherently so. Case in point, SD is still cheaper and easier to wrangle than HD but currently a lot less ubiquitous (or desirable) because the world moved on to HD, finally. The same will be true for 4K, which you acknowledge.

HD is currently king but the handwriting is on the wall. It's substantially less flexible than 4K+ in terms of detail, room to work, especially within an HD frame, and color gamut (when talking about broadcast standards and UHD). Most people didn't shoot HD so they could reframe in SD. They wanted to squeeze every drop of resolution out of the new format. 4K+ satisfies the capabilities of human visual acuity and has room left over to spatially manipulate the image in creative ways.

4K, on the pro acquisition level, is steadily becoming the more ubiquitous choice. RED and Sony have fully committed, Canon has two offerings (four, if you count the actual sensor resolution), BMD has one and Arri officially announced. In 5 years, HD acquisition will primarily be for consumers only, with a substantial chunk of that market being eaten up by 4K. Hence, HD will find itself in the same boat as DAT for similar reasons. Technology will have marched on and left them behind, not because they were severely lacking, rather, simply because it could do.

July 10, 2013 at 3:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

Having shot a fashion film on Epic, a feature on Alexa and a tv half hour on F55 the camera that knocked me out the most was easily the Alexa. Crew love it, the images are really something else and it baffles me when people talk about cameras being 'like the Alexa'. Nothing I've worked with is anywhere near it. Gorgeous camera and, dare I say it, a massive comfort blanket! I know it's not politically correct to say x or x is the best camera because 'every situation's different... Different films require different cameras... Blah blah. For me, e Alexa is the best and I will fight tooth and nail to shoot with it whenever I can. 4k version? Yes please.

July 10, 2013 at 2:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I just shot a commercial that combined the f55, the alexa, and the f3 with zeiss ultraprime glass and they will all cut seamlessly. The F55 is better in low light guerrilla environments. With that said, I still like the image out of the sony f35 the best - I own two of them. The motion is so beautiful. And the skin tones are nicer than the Alexa.

July 12, 2013 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I'M NOTHERE TO MAKE ANY GODDAMN rental house money; their workers and / or really anyone else before myself.

The cost prohibition kept me out of directing, producing my own scripts for a long time until tyheis digit6al rev. finally hapened and the big equipment Boys can no longer control the marketplace.

It's been bad enough; that even wuith a MASTERS in screenwriting - /film prod. from one of the big 3;
crew time on numerous, low paying indies wwhile always...always trying to get a Union card ( yes, paying your dues on all levels) that this cost factor WAS always a stumbling block.

Now...the digital rev. is doing just the opposite...and the ALEXXA people are pissed of that the same, or close to it...digital tech. may eventually be available in a camera I can buy at BEST BUY...instead of paying 100,000.00 a pop for their precious ALEXXA??????

ALEXXA can go to hell.

Bring on the competition...adapt or die ALEXXA.

July 10, 2013 at 3:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MARK11

Ouch. Seems like you need a better producer dude. Renal houses have always been very accommodating to young filmmakers and the cost of renting equipment is very much not the whole cost. Be under no illusions, investing in kit is still going to rack up costs fast in order to cope with a proper production. Make a good investment in people and contacts and you'll find you can shoot on an Alexa for next to nothing and you can go on a spelling course to learn how to actually spell Alexa. Sorry... ALEXA.

July 10, 2013 at 4:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ALEXXA

July 11, 2013 at 6:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

The gear is a tiny slice of the budget. If you cant afford the gear, you can't afford the film. Unless your mums gonna grip!

December 6, 2013 at 12:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stewe

The brand power of ARRI is strong as ever in the filmmaking world, Arriboy will stick to mommas right till the bitter end, no matter how much Red and Sony improved in terms of latitude and resolution.

July 11, 2013 at 12:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

"Everyone is making a 4K camera" Quite true, just a few more trips to Home Depot and mine should be ready to go!

July 11, 2013 at 7:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Not much discussion here about what they said about 4k hype. They are so right, and no one seems to be interested. It's all 4k 4k 4k, but put a 40" 2k display at optimum viewing distance next to a 40" 4k display at optimum viewing distance, and anyone would be hard pressed to see the difference.

The fact that people are sabotaging their 2k displays to promote the 4k displays next to them is a prime example of the marketing and the reality distortion that takes place in the industry of technology. 2k is a great resolution for all intents and purposes, and the fact that Arri stick to their guns on this is also proof of how their science reigns supreme and that they don't care about supplying a 6k image if the pixels are of weak quality.

The number of cinematographers raising issues about digital images being too sharp is another interesting topic now. Is the feeling of being able to cut cheese on someones forehead really something storytellers can use to elicit emotional responses? I think we're in the realm of the analogy of being able to make cars faster and faster, but where driving at 200kmh isn't really desirable in most situations. We've nailed resolution. Color science is where it's at, now.

July 12, 2013 at 4:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jcarrig

Sorry about the double post. The long URL caused some of the text to get cut off. I shortened it in this one.

“The Alexa camera family concept had initially included a 4K-plus sensor version to be launched approximately one year after the introduction of the first Alexa. But the outcome of an intensive feasibility study more than two years ago showed that we would sacrifice dynamic range for resolution, so we decided not to proceed.”

My interpretation is that Arri felt there was no RUSH to get to 4K. They never stated 4K was not beneficial. The Arriscan film scanner is capable of 6K/4K film scans. They initially had plans for a 4K camera as well. What they said was, at the time, a 4K sensor would’ve compromised dynamic range, so they held off.

From pg. 22 of a SMPTE journal from Arri entitled, “4K+ Systems: Theory Basics for Motion Picture Imaging” (referring to an 830 seat theater):

“It can be concluded that the rumor is simply not true! A large portion of the audience would be able to see the 4K resolution of the projector. At the same time, the higher resolution inevitably raises the modulation of lower spatial frequencies, which in turn benefits everyone in the theater.”

http://bit.ly/16xrtZX

July 12, 2013 at 8:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

Why do I feel that I miss the most important part of the headline - the actual confirmation of a 4K camera from Arri?
Where does the interview say they are doing one? They say they were about to have a 4k+ sensor but dumped the concept. So where is the announcement?

July 12, 2013 at 5:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tigerbalm

July 12, 2013 at 8:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

Thanks, still no word about Arri developing a 4k camera anymore. They are suggesting 8k and 120 frames.

October 17, 2013 at 11:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tigerbalm

Do you have a link to this?

October 18, 2013 at 12:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

At the moment the 2K ARRIRAW images are, concerning latitude and color management, the only ones that can truly compete with the Sony F65 4K pictures. Comparing those two on a big Screen you'll see that what the F65 does is incredible. With this camera they definitely hit a new level. In that aspect, the ARRI raw 2K shows just as much detail in highlights and shadows and the contrast in colors is extremely similar.
All the other cameras sacrificed dynamic range and/or color management over resolution.
So after having seen test results of a varity of cameras on a 4K screen, I would say that resolution is the only aspect that makes a true difference between those two.
With a 4K sensor ARRI will be right back in the game. (Not even mentioning the fact that an Alexa is easier to handle on set...)

September 8, 2013 at 5:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thea Adlung

Provided that Arri can maintain the other characteristics of the sensor "Alev IV"(?) when increasing the resolution. This is non-trivial.

September 9, 2013 at 4:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

Just shot an ad with the F55 & Alexa and the F55 was rock solid while the Alexa was very tempremental. The F55 also out perfformed it in low light and they cut seamlessly. F55 all the way for me.

September 20, 2013 at 3:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MJ

I am an Epic owner, but I am not married to Red. I think my next body will be an Arri, it makes good sense to own more then one tool. I wonder how far away there 4k model is tho...and at what price? its gonna be hard to pay 150 or 200k just to say arri on the side... particularly against cheaper epics, and faster 4k flex

January 30, 2014 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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brian merlen

I think the patience and consideration ARRI took before getting on the digital bandwagon was well thought through. I think ARRI would like to take as much time and consideration before developing 4k as well, but are being pushed into it.
Myself I would prefer ARRI took as long as they like so the end result is as excellent as the first ARRI Alexa. We have recently bought one after hiring one because Park Road Post do not develop film any more so we had to go digital. We have 11 years shooting on 16mm and searched for a camera which would meet our needs. We compared Red one, Epic, Sony PMW F55 and two canon EOS cs. The end results were compared and we all came to a consensus on the ARRI Alexa.
The exposure tolerance, organic look, and ease of use sealed it for us. All the other examples were like a computer with a lens attached, the ARRI is a camera. The focus with the ARRI is shooting not the technology. I still don't agree with comparing Film to digital as film is film and a sensor is another thing. New ground really and I am happy ARRI are taking the 'slow and calculated' approach instead of hitting us with new half tested inventions every year.
Anyway, that's my two cents worth.
Mark

May 26, 2014 at 11:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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great post Mark!

July 11, 2014 at 6:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bestfrontman

70% of us probably can not afford this.

July 10, 2014 at 2:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tim

It's not about you affording this. It's about your client paying for it. If your client can't pay for the daily rental of an Alexa, then it's their problem, not yours. You can still offer them a decent quality with a C500. Besides, I really doubt that a client aming for broadcast wouldn't be able to pay for an Alexa. Now, if you are talking web stuff, of course it's out of reach. This isn't the right tool for that.

July 11, 2014 at 7:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bestfrontman

HD is part of the digital broadcast standard. 4K isn't. Will it be? Who knows, since it took almost forever for the current standard Romberg adopted.

With 8K expected to be a standard in Japan by 2020, maybe 4K be skipped over and 8K becomes part of the standard.

Right now, at this moment, anyone with a 4K TV isn't watching much or any 4K content.

4K acquisition doesn't mean 4K mastering either. There still hasn't been a major production with VFX done all in 4K. We'll see how it progresses in a few years.

July 10, 2014 at 11:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Wallard

As with many here I agree the Alexa is a fantastic camera all around except for weight. Ha!
Using an HD or 2k camera is fine for 90% of the work I do. Although, I would say 4k is great for action shooting like motorsports, car commercials and efx work where you want the pixels or the ability to pan and scan in and reframe in post. I get asked to shoot 4k+ on RED shoots by the client and never by post. The myth is alive! Of course we end of shooting in 4k anyway since most wide cine lenses only work to 4k. My preference is Arri and I consider the Epic to be a great high speed camera up to 200-300fps.

What I alway think of as the holy grail is to talk about compression rates off the chip and the codec used to package the clip. Nobody ever talks about this! Why don't we talk about finding the sweetspot of compression vs. picture quality vs. file size. This is what Arri is alluding to without calling out data.

Thanks

July 10, 2014 at 1:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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My theory is that the real reason we haven't seen a 4K camera from Arri isn't the sensor: it's recording media and processing in camera.
The way I figure it, they've probably had a sensor working for more than a couple of years (though I am sure that the color science is still being refined).
The true reason we haven't seen a true 4K camera from Arri is the processing of those images and the fact that Arri doesn't compress the tonality of the image as much from the sensor to the recording. They need either Codex or whoever can pull it off to create a new recording medium in order to record true RAW the way Arri prefers. The data rates aren't there yet (unless we're talking about mags like the ones that the Phantom Flex uses).

July 10, 2014 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Harry Pray IV

Joe Marine, thank you for this article. First thing I would like to point out is that to me it's pretty clear you are not a professional cameraman. If you were, you would understand why cinematographers choose 9 times out of ten to work with Alexa. Hence, it would be clearer for you the reason why most seriously budgeted TV shows and featute films work with Alexa. Of course, it has nothing to do with the laughable and purely marketing oriented "resolution" argument. It has all to do with quality, operability, integration and reliability.
If you seriously believe you can replace an Alexa for a GH4 or similar toys, it's because you have never worked in the camera department of a big show.
Moreover, camera tental houses make most of their money with the rentals of Alexas and REDs. You don't seriously believe that renting DSLRs for 150 bucks a day rental houses make resl money, right? You are mixing the 2 ends of the scale. Be aware of marketing and try to separate that from filmmaking.

July 11, 2014 at 6:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bestfrontman

I would have to agree. This article is a bunch of bologna. Professional crews will still go to rental houses, and the children will have their canon t2i's to make their YouTube videos.

July 11, 2014 at 8:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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loo