Underwater Sequence Employed Large-Format Digital Cameras for Flexibility, Quality in VFX-Heavy Shots

Camera buffs will have their first chance to check out footage from the ARRI Alexa 65 in the real world this weekend, when an underwater sequence captured with the new large-format camera system hits movie theater screens as part of Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.

Cinematographer Robert Elswit, ASC, and underwater DP Pete Romano, ASC, shot scenes in an underwater tank at Warner Bros. studios in Leavesden, U.K. The main reason for bringing out the big guns was that the scene's background would be replaced in post. The higher-resolution image meant higher quality plates for the VFX team to work on—including the ability to severely crop the image and still end up with a picture that matched well with the 35mm camera negative for the rest of the film.

"We felt very privileged and excited to use the Alexa 65 on Rogue Nation," said the film's VFX supervisor, David Vickery, in a statement provided by ARRI. "In post-production, the large-format images we captured on the 28mm and 35mm Prime 65 wide-angle lenses gave Double Negative the flexibility to push in up to 280% on the frame and still extract a sharp 2K plate, which we then treated to look like the anamorphic film stock that the rest of Rogue Nation had been shot on."

A specially configured Codex Vault S from ARRI Rental was used for on-set QC and back-up to 8TB transfer drives that were delivered to Company 3's London office for processing to uncompressed ARRIRAW images using the Vault Lab 65, a high-performance version of the Codex Vault XL.

Rogue Nation is the first Alexa 65 project to make it to theaters, but ARRI promised that "a number of high-profile productions" employing the camera in whole or in part will be showing up in theaters "over the coming months."

For more details on the underwater shoot for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, see the ARRI Rental case studyThe Alexa 65 is available exclusively through ARRI Rental.