Arri Alexa on the Town in LA

Posted By Barry Goch on October 08, 2010 08:55 am | Permalink
Arri Alexa at Local Hero Post with Scratch and Moviola Digital Arts Institute with Autodesk Smoke for Mac

Last week I was invited to an open house at Local Hero Post, a boutique post house in Santa Monica, CA. The draw was to see the Arri Alexa camera and to experience their DTE, Direct To Edit, workflow in person.

Stephan Ukas-Bradley, Product Manger, Digital Production at ARRI, led us through the first part of the presentation. He showcased the Alexa camera’s beautiful images and elegant post workflow. The camera records a variety of flavors of Apple’s ProRes (including ProRes 4444) to an onboard SxS card. This media carries all the metadata for a later conform to ArriRaw, their data format for finishing in the highest possible quality. Earlier in the evening he demonstrated for me how the SxS card mounts through the ExpressCard/34 slot on a 17” MacBookPro. He then opened the card on the Mac, found the camera generated XML log of all the captured footage, drag and dropped that file into FCP then relinked the footage to the xml and you’re ready to edit.

The next part of the presentation was guided by Local Hero founder and lead colorist Leandro Marini. He was able to access the Arri Alexa ProRes footage in his Scratch system and begin to grade it directly without any transcoding. Since the Alexa can record the ProRes footage in Log C, and the camera does an intelligent bracketing of the image during capture (similar to a HDR image) there is tremendous range in the files. For example, there was footage shot in bright sunlight where the clouds in the sky appeared to be blown out, but with a few adjustments, Leo was able to reveal detail in the clouds. Arri says the camera has a dynamic range of 14 stops and from what I saw in the demo I believe it.

Last night the Moviola Digital Arts Institute in Hollywood, hosted an event sponsored by ProMax to demonstrate Arri Alexa post workflow for their newest product, Autodesk’s Smoke for Mac.

The Institute’s Director of Education and Production, Johnathon Amayo, was the host of the event and he introduced Stephan from Arri to show the Hollywood peeps the features of the Alexa camera. Johnathon followed Stefan with a demonstration of the DTE FCP workflow as I described above, and also showcased the Avid Media Composer 5 AMA (Avid Media Access) workflow by opening the SxS card inside Avid through AMA and linked to the files on the card to start editing.

The evening’s program was capped off by Autodesk Master Trainer Sibille Cooney showing how Autodesk Smoke for Mac is also able to link to the Alexa ProRes media directly with no importing or transcoding necessary. Autodesk is a partner in the ArriRaw SDK development team and in the latest release at IBC; Smoke 2011 Extension 1 now supports the ArriRaw format natively. Sibille then showed the ease in which Smoke deals with Log material. Long the standard of high-end finishing, Smoke supports 1D and 3D viewing and processing LUTs. In practice this means no conversion or color correction is necessary to properly view log based material. Just toggle a button in the player to turn on a viewing LUT and off you go.

Both events were well attended and it’s always great fun to stay on the cutting edge of the rapidly changing world of post with good friends and free booze. See you at the next one!