120 fps Alexa Firmware Announced, LED Lighting Introduced

James Cameron and camera guru Vince Pace, whose company worked with Cameron on the Fusion 3D system used for Avatar, are now in business together. The newly christened CAMERON-PACE Group (CPG), announced yesterday at NAB, is meant to be an engine pushing adoption and implementation of stereo 3D technology across the industry. “Our goal is to banish all the perceived and actual barriers to entry that are currently holding back producers, studios and networks from embracing their 3D future,” said Cameron in a prepared statement.
One of the first projects for CPG is a partnership with ARRI on development of the Alexa M, a new modular version of the popular digital camera. The “M” means modular – the camera uses the same sensor as existing Alexa models and has a PL lens mount, but the head is connected to the camera body by fiber, making it exceptionally small and especially suited for use on stereo 3D rigs, as well as for action photography and shooting from tight spots. Pre-production cameras will be made available to CPG in September, ARRI said, and shipments to all customers are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2012.

“We love 3D,” cracked Marc Shipman-Mueller, ARRI’s product manager for cameras and lenses, at the press conference where a mock-up of the Alexa M debuted. “We sell two of everything.”

Other news from ARRI included word of a forthcoming 4.0 software upgrade for the Alexa that will enabled dual-card recording (for making instant back-ups of footage) and the ability to export single frames in the ARRIRAW format. That upgrade will be free, and is due in June. Also coming in June, via a paid license key, is the Alexa Anamorphic Desqueeze function, allowing the use of 2x or 1.3x anamorphic lenses to capture booth. That function is in alpha at ARRI’s NAB booth. The forthcoming Alexa Studio camera, slated for December release at a price of 92,900 Euros (about $134,000 U.S.), will feature a new optical viewfinder (which can be swapped out for an electronic one) and will use the full 4×3 area of the Alexa sensor, enabling the use of 2x anamorphic optics for the first time. ARRI said Monday that it believes the Alexa Studio is the only digital camera to have an optical viewfinder and a 4×3 image sensor.

Another tidbit for Alexa users is the high-speed mode, which is slated to be enabled in software in Q3, enabling shooting between 60 and 120 frames per second with ProRed 422 HR recording. Like anamorphic desqueeze, 120 fps will be a paid upgrade; prices have not been set.

ARRI also introduced an entirely new line-up of LED-based lighting. The new products are called the LSERIES and are designed to have a traditional light field that recalls conventional Fresnels. ARRI said the lights give off no forward heat and can be either actively cooled with quiet fans (for location work) or passively cooled for studio use. There are three different lights in the LSERIES – the L7-T is a tungsten light, the L7-D is daylight, and the L7-C is color-controllable. More information is available at www.arri.com/l-series.