February 26, 2015

Emmanuel Lubezki Is Using the ALEXA 65 on His Next Project, Iñárritu’s 'The Revenant'

Emmanuel Lubezki always seems to be at the cutting edge of digital cinema technology.

Chivo, who just won his second consecutive Oscar for Best Cinematography for his incredible work on Birdman, is now hard at work on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, a 19th century Western thriller that is currently shooting in Alberta, Canada. The film, which stars Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio, is described thusly on its IMDb page:

The frontiersman, Hugh Glass [played by DiCaprio], who in the 1820s set out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.

The big news about the project, however, is that it's among the very first to use ARRI's new ALEXA 65 camera system, which was announced late last year to much fanfare from the cinematography community. The camera is the first of its kind in the digital cinema world, as it combines the proven image quality, dynamic range, and usability of the ALEXA with a much larger 65mm equivalent sensor.

The Revenant_BTS_Alejandro González Iñárritu Leonardo DiCaprio Emmanuel Lubezki

In case you missed the original announcement of the camera, here are the (incredibly impressive) specs:

Technical Specifications

  • 65mm Digital Cinema Camera
  • ARRI A3X CMOS sensor
  • 5-perf 65mm (full camera aperture)
  • 6560 x 3102 resolution (maximum recordable)
  • 54.12 x 25.58 mm Sensor size (active image area)
  • Weight: 10.5 kg / 23.2 lb
  • ARRI XPL Mount (64mm diameter)
  • 200 - 3200 ISO. Base is 800 ISO
  • Dynamic Range: >14 stops
  • Uncompressed ARRIRAW
  • LDS metadata
  • Electronic Shutter 5° - 358°, adjustable in 1/10° increments
  • 0.75 to 27 fps (upgrade to 60 fps planned for early 2015)

In a recent piece from the ASC, Lubezki gave away a few details about how he's shooting the film and some of the technical challenges of shooting exteriors in Alberta during the dead of winter.

We’re doing a lot of exterior work with natural light and Steadicam. The lenses are very wide and close to the actors. It’s extremely visceral. The temperature has dropped as low as -30°C [-22°F], and we’ve been experiencing some difficulties with the equipment. At one point, it got so cold our monitors froze!

There's currently little other information out there about The Revenant, but if there's one thing that we can definitively count on, it's that the film will look absolutely incredible with Chivo behind the lens and that it will give us a great idea of what ARRI's new ALEXA 65 is capable of.     

Your Comment

11 Comments

Going for a three-fer, Emmanuel?

One thing I noticed in the last film I saw that was shot in 65mm(Interstellar) was the razor-thin focus on close-ups. It created some out-of-focus eyes and seemed a bit distracting on the IMAX screen, but hopefully this isn't an issue for this show. They're definitely gonna make the 1st AC earn his paycheck, though.

February 26, 2015 at 4:14PM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
492

IMAX is quite a bit bigger than even 5-perf 65mm. The depth of field for 65mm is closer to anamorphic.

February 26, 2015 at 4:34PM

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And Chivo doesn't shoot wide open all the time.

February 26, 2015 at 5:37PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
470

Yeah, I noticed the exact same thing and although I do like shallow depth of field, many of the close ups in Interstellar were just too shallow and distracting to the point of making me think: "Hey, almost nothing is in focus here, this must've been an IMAX shot."

Note that those shots with distractingly shallow depth of field were most likely IMAX, not 65mm. Keep in mind that the IMAX frame dimensions are:
Diagonal—87.91 mm Width—70.41mm Height—52.63 mm

While a 65 mm frame is:
Diagonal—57.30 mm Width—52.48 mm Height—23.01

It is for that reason I do not believe IMAX is good for close ups.

February 28, 2015 at 12:26AM

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Darren Weckerle
Editor/Colorist
101

It's nowhere near 65mm. If anything, this camera is basically the only digital camera that comes close to 35mm, since its theoretical resolution is 6K.

February 26, 2015 at 4:44PM

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Henry Barnill
Director of Photography
637

There's some argument about how much rez a full frame of 35mm negative resolves to. From what I've read, under ideal circumstances the original negative of the latest 35mm stock could resolve at something approaching 6K but from the first time it's duped, cropped to wide screen, exposed to real world lighting situations, etc., the rez starts to drop fast. From what I've read, in an ideal projection situation, a 35mm print could maybe--maybe resolve at 3.5K at the most. Compare this to a 6K camera where, handled properly, the first and only image degradation would come at the hands of the projector lens.

February 26, 2015 at 5:49PM, Edited February 26, 5:49PM

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J Robbins
610

In theory, this could be true.

In practice, codecs will degrade the image as well. And I wouldn't be surprised if this was edited/graded/finished at a much lower resolution. Producers don't care all that much about the nuances of image fidelity.

February 27, 2015 at 12:34AM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
470

What about shooting it in anamorphic? No need for cropping and you use the whole frame. Plus, not using a digital intermediate. That just lessens the resolution. Films like Inherent Vice, Interstellar, and yes, even Transcendence, didn't use them and they looked fantastic.

February 27, 2015 at 1:58PM

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Henry Barnill
Director of Photography
637

i hate to point out the obvious, but 65mm refers to sensor size not resolution. Besides if you think you can get 6k off a 35mm scan then you clearly haven't worked in the film world.

February 27, 2015 at 8:53AM

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keith
406

Go Chivo, go!!

February 26, 2015 at 5:06PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1962

I'm shooting my next project, "Dogs in Back Yard," on the Sony Nex-5t and consumer-grade Canon glass. The specs of the camera are "incredibly standard, to the point that it's amazing," as Robert Hardy put it.

I don't want to give away everything as far as technique, but I am open to general questions from the NFS community.

February 27, 2015 at 12:30PM

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