: gary adcock's Blog
Here she is.
I am not different from anyone else here on the Cow, so when there is a new toy in town I am really glad when I get to be one of the first inline. Stay tuned for the next week while I share my thoughts on a camera that is as much of a game changer as RED or the DSLRs have been.
First off, it is not my camera. Tom and the crew at Fletcher Camera are allowing me the first few days of bliss with their new toy this weekend and I am very thankful to be here, so lets take a look at what I have seen so far.
I am not the only tourist shooting the unboxing here is Tom taking the shot I posted yesterday.
Lets get to my first impressions.
Because Alexa is being released in limited numbers, there are only a very few of these cameras even available (maybe a couple of dozen worldwide) and Arri is the careful and cautious company that they have always been. There are a number of functions not yet enabled, but I will get to those that I am able to talk about publicly later in the week.
Alexa has a base ASA of 800, with what appears to be over 13 stops of latitude at that setting, but a range from 160-1600 in the menu.
She so quiet that you have look to be sure that it is on, easily accomplished by the bright and clear LCD on the side of the camera (that changes to green when recording).
The mechanical design is awesome, built in the manner that one would expect from Arnold and Richter, a company that has been building THE professional film camera for 90 years. Like the film cameras before it, Alexa is designed with both the DP and an assistant in mind, with buttons, knobs and mounting points that further define this as a truly professional camera system, designed to accept 99.5% of the existing Arri or other accessories and matte boxes. As an example - there is even an “O”ring around the external access to the SxS cards, these are used as seals underwater or in environments where dust or dirt could be an issue.
The menu structure of Alexa is going to put a lot of guys like me out of business. It is a simple, concise structure that is not a great leap from the early iPod, even having a wheel to make adjustments with. Creating a useable, functioning tree structure that accounts for the current state of the camera as well as placeholders for future additions to the architecture is not something I have ever seen on ANY professional camera but exactly the attention to detail that Arri has put into their digital flagship.
Recording options offer the user access to ProRes capture internally on Sony’s 32GB SxS media cards that offer 19+min of ProRes 422 HQ(@ 10bits) and 15 mins of ProRes 4444 (up to12bits). This camera has been configured so that I am able to test some of the features that have been announced but not yet ready to be publicly released, including the ability to capture of all 5 flavors of ProRes, test the ability to capture externally capture uncompressed or the full 2880 x1620 raster to be available in ArriRaw.
Arri’s Raw format is not anything new, actually over 5 years old, starting on the D20 then later modified on the upgraded D21, a magnificent camera that was not popular until the last year or so, with FOX’s “Lie To Me” being one of the few episodic series that embraced it.
Michael Bravin and Fletcher Director of Engineering Mike Sippel with Alexa.
Later I will cover the menus, recording, monitoring and output modes along with some of the hidden things that make you understand why this just might be the biggest leap in digital filmmaking since RED One was released.
That's all for today - I'm going back to playing with the camera.
Fletcher Camera and Lens is showing the un-boxing of the Arri Alexa on Facebook.
Mike Sippel, Fletcher's director of engineering gets the honor of the paperwork.
My world changed yesterday, One of the first Alexa's was hand delivered to Chicago yesterday. I was limo driver, messenger and suprised when the camera slipped into O'Hare hidden stealthily in a Cinealta backpack.
It was related to me by the courier that precautions were taken when the camera had to be exposed during a security screening at an unnammed airport and said courier was pursued by a DP wanting to know if fit was "a real Alexa?", "working", "where is it going" and the best one " ARE YOU MICHAEL BRAVIN.!!"
So Arri really has started delivery on the next new thing. I am fortunate to be one of the lucky people to be able to work with this, the crown jewel of Arri's camera line, so stay tuned to the Cow over the next week while I blog and write about the hottest shipping camera currently on the market.
Photos and videos start later today.
I have been into 3D for awhile now, so I like many others jumped at the chance to watch ESPN"s 3D coverage of the FIFA world cup games.
What I found out stunned me. It is virtually impossible to watch the world cup broadcast on a 3D TV using Passive (circular polarized) content, WHAT?? It seems that the initial 3D broadcasts are only being geared towards the lower cost active displays made by Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.
It seems that the 3D content sent by DirectTV is 720p60 in a signal called "checkerboard" for those of us that actually work in 3D that translated to "interlace".
Great I get that, however the problem I ran into is 2 fold. I tried connecting with with 2 different displays, both leaders in the field for passive technology. JVC's GD-463d10 display is one of the best out there, in spite of the nearly $10,000 USD price tag and a Hyundai model that cost over $5000. Damned if I could get either of these sets to work, and both for different reasons.
Those that keep up with my diatribes know that I dearly love the JVC display and it was everywhere at this past NAB, the one issue with this set is well one of those things that is more annoying than I ever imagined. It does not accept a 720p signal, that's right JVC's cameras shoot mostly 720p but the stereo display they designed cannot see the signal from there cameras, and because the HDMI broadcast signal uses HDCP I could not use the trick I used at NAB- passing the 720p signal thru a KiPro to cross-convert the signal to 1080. The HDCP protocol limits the devices that process the HDMI ( no aja device allows you to violate the HDMI hardware restraints).
So I moved on the the Hyundai display, I have used these onset, and while the set allows the 720p signal - low and behold- the Hyundai display does not support the "checkerboard" signal being sent by DirectTV.
Let me say that I was not brought in to assist with the issue until someone at the facility had spent more than 15 hrs trying to fix this issue first, I spent another 5 hrs,before I had tried all of the available options ( including one from Hyundai that called for using a $129 Geffen box to modify the HDMI signal.
Oh well back to 2D
I am setting at LAX on my way back to Chicago after spending the weekend at CineGear, the onset production show, held for the last 2years on the Paramount Studios backlot and stages. This is the acquisition show, cameras, capture and the associated tools. Cinegear for me is not a selling show - it iwas for me the ultimate schmooze fest, a place where I can actually get a chance to talk to some of the people that I only get to wave at as I zoom by their booth while I am running from one meeting to another at NAB.
It is also a time when the industry comes together. I attended a BBQ last night at the unbelievably beautiful restoration of the ASC clubhouse in hollywood. Now bovines think about being outside on a wonderfully cool LA evening with friends like Bob Primes jASC, Dave Stump ASC, Michael Bravin, and industry luminaries like former head of ARRI Volker Banderman, and every name ASC member I could think of (except my friend Roberto Schaefer ASC) all rejoycing in the great history of this building.
Then I headed over the CML party being held at Birns &Sawyer to hook up with the ulitmate industry tech group.
I cannot tell you how much fun it is to be standing in the middle of a parking lot / swimming pool / shooting tank on the Paramount lot when a Very very well known DP stops to join in my conversation with a couple of other people then stops the conversation to tell me he loves reading my stuff on the cow. I will not name him publicly because I was asked not to, but nee lees to say it inflated my ego for a couple of hours.
Thats how it goes. Really.
I have some clients that do not want me to post to social media sites and when I am working for them and I must honor their requests. (it is actually written in to the contracts for some of my clients). So I am done from my crusade and back online this week.
Look out for my upcoming articles including my NAB followup and an indepth look into iPad and iPhone apps for the digital cinematography crowd.
OK it’s been 3 weeks since NAB and I had to get some work done but I wanted everyone to know that one of of the coolest updates at this past NAB was hidden well inside the central hall and was one of the most promising products I have seen in years. If you have ever tried to repeat a pan then tilt with a fluid head in the same manner over multiple takes you quickly see how limited most tripod heads are built.
The Gearnex Head with an HVX200
At last year’s show Gearnex showed off the first affordable gear head that most of us had ever seen. Instead of the Arri model that sells in the $30-$40K range, the Gearnex Gear head as an MSRP of only $7500 USD. I got a close look last year at the head but was given a peak at the 2010 update and all I can say is WOW. The Gearnex team has taken all the suggestions users have sent them and redesigned their product into a wonderfully easy, full function production tool.
Just so everyone understands, a gearhead allow an operator the ability to smoothly move or track and object in a repeatable fashion. If you are working on a standard fluid head on a tripod, you traditionally use either your body or your hands to pan and / or tilt. The problem with that methodology is simply inertia, moving any mass means that you need to apply an equal but opposite amount of force to slow or stop it, resulting in hits or bumps as you try to repeat the action over multiple takes.
With a gearhead, since you are controlling the movement by turning wheels orthogonally to the camera motion, it becomes far easier to control the camera movement when starting or ending a pan or tilt, all because you are not moving in the same direction as the camera is, and therefore less inertial mass is propagated to your camera movement giving you a much smoother control. I used my demo on a number of cameras from an HVX200, a fully tricked out RED and on full size HD cameras like my varicam all with great success. I personally felt the heaver the camera the better the original model worked, but I must say the updated model showed non of the issues I ran into with the lighter camera models, and it appeared to handle just as well with Prosumer cameras as it did for me with a full blown ENG package mounted on it.
This shows a full Varicam package on my Gearnex Head
Gearnex includes a training chart and laser pointer in every kit to facilitate a faster learning curve with regard to accurate camera movement and control. I watched a number of times at the Red UserGroup meeting during NAB when camera operators that had never worked on a gearhead became absolutely astounded at how quickly they were able to recreate incredibly complex camera moves in a matter of minutes.
There is nothing better than a test chart, especially when it comes in the package.
Find them here http://www.gearnex.com/
I want to take a minute and publicly thank Bram and the team at Flanders Scientific for the assistance at this NAB. I know that nearly everyone here on the Cow has heard about Walter and Shane’s glowing reviews of the FSI monitors and I now gladly add my name to that list.
I have been carrying a 17’ FSI unit around for about 3 months now and it was an absolute savior at NAB. For the record the last 5 years I have had to drag an entire edit bay to Las Vegas. That includes desktop, Kona 3, 8T raid and until this year I used 2 displays, one for the computer and one to monitor. Well, this year my Cinema display arrived in 3 pieces. In desperation I plugged a DVI cable from my computer into my LM-1760W and low and behold I was able to use the FSI monitor for both the computer and to monitor the HDSDI feed just by pressing the input selection buttons on the front.
When someone tried to check the calibration setting controls and all they succeeding in doing was throwing the units calibration totally out of whack. Bram and Johan were kind enough to recalibrate the unit at the show. While it is not possible for everyone here on the Cow to get that kind of customized service at a trade show, I would not hesitate a millisecond to recommend the FSI displays to anyone, because with people like this behind a company, I know anyone I send their way will get the best service and support possible and I wanted to thank them publicly for saving my butt.
I want to tell you that I love being on the COW. The feeling of community is just astounding and at the big shows like NAB and IBC the Cow leaders like me really start to understand the breadth and reach that we have. We live in an age were people can remain anonymous on the web, yet here on the Cow we all understand that we are part of a larger whole. At one point on the first day of the show the Aja booth had Walter, Shane, Jerry, Tim Kolb, Russ Lasson, Bob, Neil Sadwelkar ( all the way from india), Mitch Ives and a couple of dozen other COW members around me at various times.
That does not include the dozens of lurkers or people that I did not recognize, and the scores of people that came up to me and commented that " YOU'RE Gary Adcock!!!???, OMG I Read everything you write" or to the "fan' of mine that I met at the Maxx Digitial get together that was intoxicated enough when vigorously shaking my hand to leave a thumb shaped bruise on the top of my hand from his enthusiasm (it hurt like a bitch when ever someone shook hands for the rest of the week).
The Cow allows us a voice to be heard and those of you that do not realize it virtually everyone reads theses pages and content regularly.
And I do mean everyone. I talked to people from ABC and Disney, CNN/ Turner, HBO, BBC, NBC, CBS, NFL films(sorry I missed you guys on Monday).
I only offer support or answer questions on Creative COW. I sometimes make comments on other forums outside of the COW, but my main voice is here as a Leader on Creative COW. I host only my only Blog on the Cow.
My Best Friends are from the COW, my home is Creative COW.
Ron- I thank you for building this resource and letting me make it my main home on the web.
Its NAB time, and there are a number of announcements over the weekend.
Adobe is announcing the Release date for CS5 today and it is down right amazing. The new Roto Tool in AE is worth the price of the entire suite.
ARRI is in Full Court Press with the release of ProRes Recording internally in the Alexa camera at NAB, RED has announced that they will be showing working Epic Models at the Red UserGroup Event on Wed. Mitch Gross from Abel Cinetech showed 2 new cameras yesterday, Aanton's Hybrid Film and HD model and the amazing Phantom Flex that records @ 2560 x 1600
Records up to
2800 fps @1080
6100 fps @ 720
The camera's HQ MODE .eliminates the Need to Black Balance before and after every shot.
Internal mechanical shutter
444 DL and Smpte TC out from Camera
3D is everywhere just like me.
I am presenting in the Post Pit @ 2pm and will be on the floor at the Aja booth on Tuesday Morning.